Shedding some light on your favorite wine writers.
Wanda Mann is the founder & editor-in-chief of the wine lifestyle website Wine With Wanda. She joined The SOMM Journal as a Contributing Editor in the summer of 2020. Always on a quest to learn more about wine, in 2015 Wanda earned the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) credential from the Society of Wine Educators. Wanda has traveled to numerous wine regions, including Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, and Argentina. A native New Yorker, Wanda spent her junior year of high school in Barcelona, Spain with the School Year Abroad program. Her junior year of college was spent in Toledo, Spain studying at the Fundación Ortega y Gassett. Wanda is a proud graduate of Phillips Academy (Massachusetts) and Pomona College (California). Her taste in wine has improved dramatically since her college days!
1. What was your first job as a writer?
It feels like I’ve been writing since I could hold a pen! It’s always been one of my passions. From ghost writing speeches for executives to a regular column on cultural events in a community newspaper, writing has been a core part of my professional life for many years. It’s actually hard to pin down my first job as a writer.
2. What led you to becoming a wine writer?
About 11 years ago, I was invited to a small wine tasting. I was enchanted by the winemaker’s stories about the vineyards, terroir, and everything that went into creating wine. I realized there was a whole world behind the bottle that I was unaware of. I majored in Anthropology in college and I’ve always been fascinated with learning about other cultures. Wine, in addition to being a pleasure to drink, provides endless stories about history, art, science, humanity, and more. I was hooked!
3. What kind of reader do you have in mind when you’re writing?
I think true wine lovers are curious by nature. They want to know more than just scores and stats. I imagine that my readers are people who like to learn about the people who make the wine and the regions it comes from. They probably love to travel, and even if they can’t hop a flight to a faraway vineyard, they connect to the feeling of being transported by wine.
4. Where is the most magical place your wine writing has brought you?
Ooh, this is a tough one. I’ve yet to visit a vineyard that wasn’t beautiful. But I think that Pantelleria was one of the most magical places that I’ve visited as a wine writer. Known as the Black Pearl of the Mediterranean, Pantelleria is a volcanic island located between Sicily and Africa. Africa is so close, on a clear day you can see Tunisia. The island is rugged and beautiful with a rich winemaking history and no shortage of 100+ year-old-vines of Zibibbo, an ancient grape variety. A fine example of heroic viticulture, because of the windy climate and rough terrain, vines on Pantelleria are bush trained on small terraces and protected by lava stone walls. It’s a very special place.
5. What was one of your favorite articles to write, and why?
Another tough question! But if I have to choose one, my 2017 article, Seduced by Somontano: My Unforgettable Wine Adventure in Spain, was one of my favorites to write. I studied in Spain for 2 non-consecutive years and had not been back for more than 20 years when I was invited on a wine trip to Somontano. When I lived in Spain, I have fond memories of sipping wine with my host family and friends, but I really didn’t know much about wine. It was so fulfilling to come back to Spain, to a region that was new to me, and view it through the lens of wine. It reaffirmed the love that I’ve always had for Spain.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief of
Wine With Wanda
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6. What is the best advice someone has given you on your writing?
You can include yourself in the story without making yourself the story. When I first started writing about wine, I tended to avoid anything personal; I wanted readers to focus on the wine. But I have found that readers want to know a bit about the person writing. They don’t want a detached and clinical report. They want to feel your passion. Over time, I’ve become more comfortable sharing aspects of my life. Wine is the real star of the story and I never want to distract from that, but I want my readers to feel my passion and to know that there’s a real person behind the articles.
7. What would you be doing if you weren’t writing about wine?
In my dreams, I would be singing in a jazz club with a flower in my hair and a glass of Champagne in my hand. In reality for many years, I wanted to be a TV news anchor and did pursue that very briefly.
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