By Carl Giavanti, Carl Giavanti Consulting
“Turning the Tables – Interviewing the Interviewers” is a Q&A series profiling Wine Writers. We hope you’ll discover more about the wine writers you know, and learn about many others. The objective of this project is to understand and develop working relationships with journalists. They are after all, those that help tell our stories, review our wines and potentially provide media coverage. You can do this by learning their wine and writing backgrounds, story and personal interests, palate preferences, writing challenges and pet peeves. This is part of an ongoing series that will be featured monthly by Wine Industry Network.
MARGOT BIGG is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in travel, culture, and music. Her stories have appeared in publications around the world, from Rolling Stone India to Travel + Leisure. She’s the author of Moon Living Abroad in India and Moon Taj Mahal, Delhi & Jaipur and a co-author of Fodor’s Essential India and Fodor’s Oregon. (margotbigg.com)
How did you come to wine, and to wine writing?
My interest in wine was first piqued when living in Paris in my early 20s, but I got into wine writing by virtue of being a travel writer covering Oregon’s Willamette Valley!
What are your primary story interests?
I’m a travel writer first and foremost, so anything to do with hospitality, culture, or tourism are high on my list of interests. I also love covering wellness and music.
Are you a staff columnist or freelance? What are the advantages of both?
I’m a freelancer. I’ve worked as a magazine editor in the past, and it’s nice to have a stable paycheck, but I prefer the freedom and flexibility of freelance life.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I’d say people tend to be surprised that I speak a few languages (French, Hindi, and some Spanish), which I suppose isn’t that common for a native English speaker. Or that I never studied writing or journalism—I do have an MA in European politics, though!
What haven’t you done, that you’d like to do?
I’d love to someday buy a fixer-upper house and then travel the world to source materials, art, and furnishings to revamp it with.
Can you describe your approach to wine writing and/or doing wine reviews?
I tend to do a lot of research ahead of time, then head off to do tastings where I take lots of notes. I tend to do write-ups shortly after when the experience is fresh in my head.
Do you work on an editorial schedule and/or develop story ideas as they come up?
Both! Depends entirely on the project.
Do you consider yourself an Influencer? What’s the difference today between a writer and an influencer in your opinion?
No, I’m definitely not an influencer. I think writers, at least in this space, tend to share experiences and impart knowledge. Influencers sell and promote products and destinations, generally more so through photos and video than with their words. I see them more as marketers.
What are your recommendations to wineries when interacting with journalists?
Always make sure your website is robust and up to date. It makes it a lot easier for us when we don’t have to search through social media posts to find out what’s new.
What advantages are there in working directly with winery publicists?
Winery publicists make things much, much easier. They understand both the wine industry and journalism and tend to be good at helping writers find exactly what we need, without a lot of extraneous information.
What frustrates you most about working on winery stories and/or wine reviews?
I do a lot of guidebook work, which involves a fair bit of fact checking. It’s so much easier to do that quickly and efficiently when websites are up to date, especially when it comes to things like opening hours and seasonal closures.
If you take days off, how do you spend them?
I enjoy exercising, hanging out with loved ones, going on long drives, and planning adventures.
What is your most memorable wine or wine tasting experience?
Probably when I was a young woman in France and traveled to the Champagne region with a group of friends for a weekend of tastings. We hit up hotspots such as the Moët & Chandon cellars, but the best part was discovering tiny producers along the way and scoring bottles we wouldn’t necessarily find easily back in Paris.
Do you have a favorite wine and food pairing? Favorite recipe/pairing?
I don’t have a favorite, but I’ve recently discovered the simple joy of wine with soup, thanks to a virtual wine-pairing and cooking class series I participated in with St. Supéry Estate. In one of the sessions, we learned how to make an absolutely delightful Cauliflower Onion Bisque (which I veganized using plant-based sour cream instead of creme fraiche). We paired it with their 2019 Dollarhide Estate Vineyard Semillon.
Margot Bigg is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in travel, culture, and music. Her stories have appeared in publications around the world, from Rolling Stone India to Travel + Leisure. She’s the author of Moon Living Abroad in India and Moon Taj Mahal, Delhi & Jaipur and a co-author of Fodor’s Essential India and Fodor’s Oregon. (margotbigg.com)
Read more stories in the series “Turning the Tables – Interviewing the Interviewers.”