• Enter Now


Ethics in Wine Writing: Valeria Tenison's Perspective on Transparency and Independence


Delving into the ethical considerations of wine reviews, the best publications to follow for news and trends, and strategies for staying objective via education

Photo for: Ethics in Wine Writing: Valeria Tenison's Perspective on Transparency and Independence

Could you please introduce yourself to the audience and explain the marriage between writer and sommelier in your career?

My name is Valeria Tenison, I am a sommelier, a journalist, a consultant and many other things. I don’t like to restrict myself with only one career path. I always loved writing. Since my early years I was writing for the school magazine. So, starting writing about the wine, the subject that I love and know well was something very natural.

You started studying wine in 2008. What difference in knowledge, experience and confidence did you feel after your DipWSET?

WSET Diploma in general gives a good structure. I don’t find this course deep, sometimes it is very simplistic and superficial, but it provides a solid base to go into details. Most of the young wine professionals in the modern world speak the WSET language and it is amazing. But I really like to talk to the elder generation, especially in France, who has a completely different view of the wine.

Could you describe the impact of a strong education in various different studies in your career?

Asking smart questions is important when you visit wineries. People see you are interested and well-prepared, so they treat you differently. It helps to find new suppliers and build strong relations with them. Your level of education is less important than your knowledge. I know many people who are self-taught and they are brilliant. 

I see you've worked in multiple European countries. What drives you to travel and explore the industry in different cities?

I think I stopped moving for a while. Changing countries is exciting but it might hinder your growth as well. I love to explore different cultures and habits. Wine people are curious about geography, history, cuisine etc. This constant thirst for knowledge and new things is essential to be a good wine professional.

What are some ethics you always keep in mind while writing about wine/spirits?

Unfortunately, wine writing is a very grey area. Many journalists are paid to pen complimentary things about producers. Being independent is almost only possible if you gain money somewhere else. I appreciate those writers who keep their tone of voice and express their own opinions despite the possible criticism from the wine business. Journalists should work for customers but customers are not willing to pay because there is so much free wine content. A dilemma!

How do you keep your personal bias and preferences out of reviews?

We are all human and all the reviews are subjective to some extent. WSET and IMW teach to evaluate the quality of the wine based on certain criteria (length, balance etc.), so if I find that a certain wine is not my style, I try to stick to these basics.

What sources/people do you follow to stay up to date with industry news, trends and technologies?

I follow too many publications and sometimes feel inundated by the incoming information. My main references are Vitisphere in France, WineNews.it in Italy and Meininger and The Drink Business for the international overview. Austrian Wine Marketing Board sends very informative newsletters about Austrian Wines. VDP does the same for their members.

Interview by Stuti Khetan, Beverage Trade Network

Give A Boost To Your Brand Globally. View Winning Benefits Here.