Tag: winner

Meet the #BDWAbyWIM Finalists: Wink Lorch

002015 BDWAbyWIM, interviewTags: , , , , , January, 16

Wink Lorch: Second Place, Best Editorial / Opinion Piece
interview by Richard Siddle

We continue our series of interviews with the authors who came top in the 2016 awards, with a chat with wine writer Wink Lorch, runner up in our  Best Editorial/ Opinion category, who is also a BDWA winner in a past edition, who looks back over her writing career and picks out what she likes to write about and who she likes to read.

Wink Lorch
Why did you enter the BDWAs … and how did you choose which articles to enter?

“I like to support good on-line writing and was encouraged to enter. I won a prize in the first edition of the competition. As I had been employed for nine months during this period by Wine-Searcher, it was obvious to choose what I thought were some of my best pieces. I chose those that I thought were the most original.”

How did you get in to wine writing?

“I’ve always worked in wine. When I had a small business selling wine decades ago, I wrote my own wine lists, newsletters etc. Then as I moved away from wine selling and into education I approached some local papers to write a wine column. I moved on from there.”

What is your approach to wine writing … do you think you have a specific style/approach 

“My approach tends to be more educational than anything even if it’s a humorous piece. I always want to explain the story behind wines, wine regions, wine people and the wine trade.”

What do you think of wine writing in general?

“It is extremely varied in quality, both writing quality and accuracy of content. Too many people choose to write about a subject that I’ve seen written about for decades and offer nothing new on the subject. Online has given a chance for new approaches, yes, but also has encouraged bad writing.”

Who do you look up to/ enjoy reading in wine?

“Jancis Robinson MW, Eric Asimov, Jon Bonné, Andrew Jefford, and sometimes Alfonso Cevola and Simon Woolf.”

What other non-wine writers do you read regularly/ favourite magazines/ publications?

“I regularly read the magazine Intelligent Life published by the Economist group – the writing quality/content is superb.”


Meet the #BDWAbyWIM Winners: Erika Szymanski

002015 BDWAbyWIM, interviewTags: , , , , , December, 15

Erika Szymanski: Winner, Best Investigative / Journalistic Wine Story
interview by Richard Siddle

Richard Siddle talks to Erika Szymanski whose article on “How to replicate a wine from 1,500 year-old-grape seeds” was the winner in our Investigative Investigative/Journalistic story category.

Here she explains what her motivation was for writing the article and how she went about it.



Naturally Erika – photo by Guy Frederick Photography

Why did you enter the Born Digital Wine Awards?

“I think that a lot of what I write is pretty boring and the pieces I find most interesting are, I suspect, a little esoteric. I thought the winning piece was neither boring nor esoteric. Short and flippant, but maybe there’s a place for short and flippant.”

What was the motivation behind writing your winning article?

“I wrote the winning blog post in response to a number of popular news pieces anticipating the recreation of ancient wine after archaeologists discovered ancient wine grape seeds.

“That sort of nonsense is too tempting fodder for mockery to pass by. My goal is partially to help fight against the damaging speculations of bad science journalism but, if I’m honest, it’s also partially the gratification of laying out in detail why reading something makes me squirm.”

How did you get in to wine and wine writing?

“I grew up in an oenophilic household with parents who read about everything they enjoy. I picked up my father’s copy of Emile Peynaud’s Le Gout de Vin over summer vacation when I was about 13 and realised that wine was this utterly remarkable thing: very physically and sensually and intellectually and socially gratifying all at once.

“I started wine writing just for myself as a way to keep up my writing skills and as an excuse to keep reading wine microbiology and chemistry once I’d left that field, and those are still my motivations.

“My other writing life is as a PhD student who studies science communication (among other things). Sometimes the two bleed into each other a bit.”

How would you describe your style of writing?

“I’m one of a relatively few wine writers focusing on science topics, even if much of what I do these days veers into the philosophical or social.

“Among the wine science writers, I suppose you could say that I’m obnoxiously opinionated. I’ll never try to write an “objective” report of a new research study; I’m going to tell you what I think about it.

“I’d rather a writer’s inevitable biases be obvious rather than something she tries to hide. Objectivity just means that you’re not being open (with your readers, and maybe with yourself) about your values and assumptions.”

What else do you read to help with your own writing?

“Now, that is a very, very long list indeed. Start with philosophy, environmental science, theology, and (guilty pleasure) good cookbooks. Classic fiction, anything medieval, and graphic novels when I have time.

“On writing about wine: don’t. Use wine to write about something else. This is for two reasons. First, the market for writing happy stories about the winery you visited/winemaker you interviewed/wine you drank is saturated (and most of those stories are pretty boring anyway).

“Second, wine is interesting because it’s a tool for thinking and living well.

“It’s what Aristotle called a topos, a common subject people can relate to that you can use to build an argument. Wine is a superb topos, and a thing of beauty for thinking and living. It’s rarely about (just) the wine.”

How will you spend your prize money?

“Basic living expenses, and maybe a little extra help for conferences I’m attending on science communication and food policy in the next few months.”

Simon Woolf

Meet the #BDWAbyWIM winners: Simon Woolf

002015 BDWAbyWIM, interviewTags: , , , , November, 15

Simon Woolf: Winner, Best Editorial/Opinion Wine Writing
interview by Richard Siddle

Simon WoolfWho better to pass on advice about how to succeed with writing about wine online than the winners of the 2015 Born Digital Wine Awards.

Here Simon Woolf, who writes regularly across both traditional wine media and his own blog, The Morning Claret, explains to Richard Siddle, chairman of the BDWA judging panel, what the inspiration for his winning article on Italian winemaker, Frank Cornelissen, was as well as sharing his overall approach and views on wine writing and what advice he would have for others.

Why did you enter the Born Digital Wine Awards?

“At first I wasn’t planning to. Industry-specific awards can be very inward looking, but BDWA is trying to change that, so I thought why not give it a go. Being recognised and respected for what you do is a great feeling.”

Why did you choose the pieces you entered?

“I selected three pieces where I felt I’d achieved the desired flow and literary style – pieces with a good story and decent structure. I wasn’t too concerned with the subject matter, although I favoured pieces that got a strong reception when they were written.

“That said, the winning entry was a bit of an outlier – it didn’t get a great deal of traction when it was originally published.”

How did your winning entry come about and what was the purpose and aim for writing the piece?

“I visited Frank Cornelissen while I was on holiday in the Etna region. Admittedly a bit of a busman’s holiday as both my partner and I are committed wine geeks, and we love visiting wine regions together.

“His reputation for being controversial, and the fact that his wines are pretty divisive was a given – so I was pretty sure I’d get a good piece out of it. Tim Atkin MW accepted my pitch, with the proviso that I made it objective. Tim can be pretty anti the natural wines phenomenon, whereas I’m generally sympathetic.

“I’m the only one writing about the ‘crazy stuff’ on Tim’s site, in fact I play up to that a bit, so it contrasts with people like Hosemaster who like to put the boot into the natural wine sector as often as they can.”

What is your wine background and how did you start as a writer?

“I’ve been a keen amateur for a good 15 years, working my way through WSET courses up to Diploma, but I never published a single word.

“In 2011, a combination of boredom at my then job, and a competition run by Fine & Rare Wines incentivised me to write a few paragraphs about claret (my first love in wine).

“I didn’t win the competition, but it did kickstart the blog which became “The Morning Claret”.

“Then I discovered the DWCC conference (then called the European Wine Bloggers Conference), which introduced me to people who were actually doing it professionally. I thought ‘Bloody hell, I need to up my game here’!”

How would you describe your approach to writing about wine? What makes you stand out?

“I’m aiming for beauty and artistry in the writing, as well as the subject matter. The stories we have to tell in wine are often quite gentle, although they may have huge resonance. It’s impossible to keep people’s attention unless you reel them in with every sentence.

“Either it has to be attention grabbing, or it has to flow so easily and smoothly that you just keep reading. I’m better at the latter I think.”

How do you see wine writing in general?

“I read an awful lot which is either just communicating information in a fairly boring way, or functioning as a basic travelogue (we went here, we did this, we tasted that, it was great).

“The challenge with online and the blogosphere (if that’s still a valid term) is that there are a ton of self-proclaimed experts. I like to think I can tell the pretenders from those who really know what they’re talking about, but it can be hard. Opinion versus considered opinion.

“On the plus side, being able to read on demand about almost anything, however niche and obscure, is such a privilege. Twenty years ago when I got excited about something I went to the book shop and bought a stack of books. Now I spend an hour Googling.”

What other wine writers do you admire/respect/read?

“Paola Tich’s writing has the punch and clarity that you’d expect from a seasoned journalist – something missing from 90% of wine writing. Andrew Jefford always has a unique angle and is never less than poetic. I read Robert Joseph and W. Blake Gray to be shaken up and entertained, Richard Hemming MW for his refreshing take and super readable style.

“Erika Szymanski covers mind-blowing subjects that no-one else even considers – and with panache and dry humour. RIP Old Parn.”

What other writing do you enjoy outside of wine and publications /websites that you read outside of wine?

“Modern fiction, especially Haruki Marakami and John Le Carré, cookery books, non-fiction about whatever is currently obsessing me. In the last few years it’s ranged from photography to cryptography to modern art.

“… and books on how to win writing competitions.”

What advice would you give to your fellow wine writers or someone looking to write about wine for the first time?

“Broaden your outlook as much as possible. Taste as much as possible, travel as much as possible. Read as much as possible, not just about wine.

“Re-read yourself at regular intervals and note the weak points. Then improve them.

“Try to find new angles. It’s hard to get excited about another blog post or article about region X or winemaker Y. Follow the story, not your preconception of what you thought the story was going to be.

“Take advice from as many people as possible, then ignore it all and do what your instinct tells you.”

Oh…and what are you going to spend your BDWA prize on?

“It’s a toss up between a bottle of Armand de Brignac, a palate of Echo Falls Fruit Fusion White Peach and Mango or an overpayment on the mortgage. I bet the last one’s going to win.”

Shortlist for the 2010 Born Digital Wine Awards is Announced!

032010 ShortlistTags: , , , May, 11

We are extremely excited to announce the Shortlist for the 2010 Born Digital Wine Awards! Though the competition was very tight, our judges came through with flying colors narrowing down the large number of entries from around the world to a very concise and deserving list of “Top 5” for each category (the one exception being the Editorial category which had such a breadth of high-scoring entries from every corner of the world).

We are very appreciative to everyone who took part and entered such great material. The winners will be announced at the London International Wine Fair, on the Access Zone, on May 18th 2011 at 10:30 (GMT). As the Access Zone will be streamed live, you can join us at: www.vrazon.com/accesszone.

The “Top 5″ in each category, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, are listed below. We encourage you to check them all out and make up your own mind before the announcement of the winners:

Best Editorial Wine Writing

Oliver Styles: Sherry Cartels and Bordeaux Negociants
Erika Szymanski: Top Ten Microbes in Your Wine
Tim Atkin: Towards a New Chile (Part 1)
Blake Gray: The 10 Most Overrated Wines
Jamie Goode: Wine Tasting: Subjective or Objective
Alder Yarrow: The Philosophy of Wabi-Sabi and Wine

Best Investigative Wine Story

Best Winery Self Produced Content

Bernhard Fiedler: Alkohol-Zunahmi – English Translation
Randall Grahm: Love Among the Vines
Kerith Overstreet: Hubris – It’s Not Just for Icarus Anymore
Randall Grahm: On a Mission: The Germ of an Idea
Brian Overstreet: Anatomy of a 91 Point Wine Score

Best Wine Tourism Feature

Marc Hinton: Madrid to Ribera del Duero
Wink Lorch: Wine Days Out in the French Alps
Joe Roberts: Endangered Species: Santorini Wine Fights for Its Survival
Ryan Reichert: A Long Walk Thorugh the Wines of Spain
Tom Fiorina: Corsican Wines and Corsica, a twenty-year journey of discovery

Best Wine Themed Video

Jay Selman: The Scent of Black
The Qwoff Boys: Palm Trees & 100 Year Old Port
Adrian Franklin: Opening a Bottle of Port with a Feather
Zev Robinson: Life on the Douro
The Qwoff Boys: Peter Lehmann Kitchen

Congratulations to all the short listed entrants! We look forward to announcing the winners in 2 weeks!