“Screw’em”: The Revolutionary Success of Wine X Magazine

Time Magazine online published a nice piece about wine educator Karen MacNeil’s new PBS series, “Wine Food & Friends”. Good for Karen. She deserves the attention and accolades.

Yet buried in the article is evidence that one small, once despised, publication has radically changed the way we who write about wine..write about wine. The article’s author, Terry McCarthy, describing Karen’s “unconventional” way of talking about wine:

“When she does talk about wine she uses unconventional, even coquettish, language: ‘like Sean Connery, masculine and meaty’, a Sauvignon Blanc is ‘the bad girl of white wine with mismatched earings and stiletto heels.'”

Now, about ten years ago, a good friend of mine, Darryl Roberts, concluded that the American wine industry was completely ignoring younger drinkers. So, he started a little magazine just for youngsters: Wine X. It was trashed by the establishment for being juvenile, improperly derisive of the current form of wine writing, and for it’s unconventional way of describing wines. Sound familiar??

It was Wine X Magazine that debuted the idea of comparing wines to movie stars, singers, song lyrics and TV shows, of using unconventionally common language, all the while tossing overboard the 100 point ratiing scale. I can’t even describe in this family format the kind of invective that was slung Darryl’s way by many in the wine industry who thought his approach to wine writing actually hurt the profession. His retort? “Screw’em”.

Today the practice of of leaving aside the usual references to a wine’s “startling finish” or its “unctuous notes loganberry and cassis” and instead using the X-Language is pretty commonplace. It’s because Darryl said, “Screw’em”

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