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Renowned critic, James Suckling, an accidental wine writer

on 23/12/14 at 7:24 pm

james1James Suckling joined a wine magazine after chancing on a newspaper advertisement.

Thirty-three years on and renowned American wine critic and writer James Suckling, who studied journalism in Wisconsin, Madison, is still writing about the drink he loves.

In a recent interview with SundayLife!, the 56-year-old, who used to write for respected wine publication Wine Spectator for 29 years until 2010, says he had always thought he would be the kind of journalist who would “bring down governments”.

“It was post-Watergate,” he says, referring to the political scandal that rocked the Nixon administration in the United States in the 1970s. “And I thought I was going to write the really great stories. My dream was to write for The New York Times.”

The former senior editor and European bureau chief of Wine Spectator – he joined the magazine fresh out of journalism school in 1981 – is best known for rating Bordeaux and Italian wines. He currently runs a consultancy and website dedicated to wines and all-things wine-related.

The Los Angeles native, who was a part-time crime reporter while in graduate school, ended up taking a job with the wine magazine after chancing on an advertisement in The Los Angeles Times. At the time, the magazine had just 800 subscribers and an office that was run out of a garage in San Diego, he says.

He recalls: “I needed a job, so I said to myself – I’ll do this until I get a real one. And now, here I am, still writing about wines.

“I started looking at the job as a journalist, trying to analyse why a particular wine was a certain way, looking for the angle, looking for the story. That still drives my interest in wine today.”

He moved to Hong Kong four years ago from Tuscany, Italy, when he left Wine Spectator.