Fabricating a History of Wine Writing
At the risk of sounding like the guy shouting at the kids to get off his lawn, I have to ask: Is it really necessary for Jordana Rothman to fabricate history in order to profile Punch Editor Talia Baiocchi in Food & Wine Magazine and demonstrate the really great work she is doing at that site?
In a lead-in to a profile on Baiocchi, Jordana writes:
There was a time, not so long ago, when wine and spirits writing was mostly the province of old, white men who conducted their critical business with score cards and spit buckets.”
For anyone who has been reading drinks literature for more than very, very short time, this kind of statement comes off as pretty insulting and not a little ignorant. It also comes off as lazy.
Still, it’s not the first time a writer fabricated history in order to justify a scenario that supports the angle they want to take in a story or feature. It happens all the time. When I see this, I usually just stop reading and move one. That’s really not fair to the subject of a profile, but what’s the point of continuing.
In this case, upon reading that up until just recently wine and spirits writing was nothing more than spitting out ratings and review—and by (God forbid, “Old White Men), I wondered if the writer has any idea that there was prose writing about wine before 2010? I wondered if she’d ever heard of:
Mary Ewing Mulligan
R. W. Apple Jr
To name but a few of the wine writers Ms. Rothman dismissed.
There is a tendency among inexperienced writers who want attention fast to make declarations about some thing or some idea or some process being very new—and very new after a long, weary time of their being very little to recommend. They tend to give the impression they discovered this worthy new thing. It happens in political writing a lot, in food writing and, in wine writing. It’s a tiring fault.
Here is the fact, while there are many new voices and new talents in the world of wine writing, including Talia who has risen based on her superior talent, neither she nor many others are writing about wine and the wine world in any significantly different way than the wine world has been written about for the past 50 years. For as long as there have been writers totally or semi-dedicated to wine, they have told stories of vintners and growers, considered the route to market for wine and critiqued the product.
What’s notable, though, is that the number of writers who, as Ms. Rothman says, “conducted their critical business with score cards and spit buckets.” is few and far between. The vast majority write, not score or rate.
At this point I would normally address further Ms Rothman’s tired “old white man” trope included in the otherwise interesting article on Talia. However, then I’d end up being the old guy on the porch shouting at the kids to get off his lawn AMD spraying them with a hose.