There has been a lot of discussion on websites and social media recently about whether or not wine and food writers should accept freebies (wine samples, restaurant meals, trips, etc).
This is my take on a contentious issue.
Wine and food writers get invited to travel to some great places to visit vineyards and taste wine. Some of us are also lucky enough to get sent bottles of wine to taste or receive invitations to go and eat out in restaurants.
In theory, receipt of a trip, meal or bottle of wine might be considered to put the recipient under obligation to write a positive review. However, in my experience, a responsible journalist (or blogger) feels no such obligation. Our primary responsibility is to our readers rather than to wine and food producers, restaurateurs or PRs.
I make a point of making it very clear to anyone inviting me on a trip, sending me wine or offering me a meal in a restaurant that I will not write about their client/product if I do not believe that I can wholeheartedly recommend their wine/restaurant/whatever.
In an ideal world, I would pay for all trips, etc myself – however, my writing does not earn me enough money for this to be a reasonable option. I could also choose to write in the abstract, without visiting producers or restaurants. I believe, however, that in order to write about something in such a way as to make it both authoritative and compellingly readable, the writer needs to experience whatever they’re writing about first hand.
In order to reconcile these factors, I promise to make it very clear in the text of all recommendations and articles published on this site when a trip has been sponsored, a meal in a restaurant has been comped or a bottle of wine has been sent to me, free of charge, to taste. I can also guarantee that, however I came by the experience in question, my choice of whether or not to recommend it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not I have paid for some, all or none of it.
* Just to make things perfectly clear, none of the content on this website is sponsored or otherwise paid for.