Write a wine column and get free wine! Wow, sounds like a great gig!

But it’s not that simple. And at the risk of a “holier-than-thou” remark or two, it’s even more difficult after spending years in the newspaper business where we talked regularly about ethics.

I recently reviewed bottles of Clif Winery Climber red and white that were sent to me for just that purpose – write about them. If that’s not clear enough – I didn’t pay for the two bottles of wine. That was the first samples I was offered or accepted through about 10 months of writing. The bottles have been in the rack a couple months.

This summer I had the chance to ask a couple of veteran wine writers/bloggers how they handled samples and I found their answers consistent with my thoughts. The offers are starting to become more frequent now, I imagine partly because of my participation in Palate Press.

The vets said they indeed accepted samples with the condition they might or might not write about the wine and there is no guaranteeof a positive review or mention.

Now, with four mouths to feed – newspaper column, this blog, Twitter, Palate Press – I can use all the material I can get!

But seriously, I found the answers “palatable” if you’ll pardon the pun. I will live by the above “conditions.” And I’ll note in my writing if a wine was a “sample” or tasted at some event.

There is a great deal of honesty, crediblity, and comfort in a direct policy.

Send comment or questions to: hewitthoward@gmail.com