Wine Needs “People Magazine”
Wine writing needs some new media outlets.
Why? Because there are some media that present a style and content that are so fitted to wine we (wine lovers) should be so lucky to explore it through their eyes and words.
The New Yorker
Surely America’s best mass distributed periodical of criticism. The New Yorker’s always ironic, educated, in-depth critiques of choreography, film, literature, music and more make you think, rather than observe. These long form critiques/articles tend always to solve the problem of too many pieces of pop criticism: lack of relevancy. A New Yorker review of a wine would, if the formula were followed, give a wine or a winemaker’s body of work, context. The writing would be very good. We would learn more than what the wine tastes like. We would learn what it means.
Good Morning America Wine Minute
In contrast to what a New Yorker presentation of wine would look like, a daily review of wine on Good Morning America would give to wine exactly what it needs to convince Americans not to fear it: A big audience. In today’s world it is no longer true that "familiarity breeds contempt". Today, familiarity breeds comfort. I like the idea of millions of Americans listening to a hyper-wakeful, smiling "wine geek" tell them what the difference is between red zin and white zin. It would be ok then to take wine a bit more seriously…because everyone else saw this "review" and it didn’t hurt…it came right after the segment on weather and right before the interview with the accused murderer’s cousin’s boy friend.
The AARP Magazine
One of the largest distribution magazine’s in America. But that’s not what is special about it. What’s special is its audience. A huge collection of seniors who have lived, who have seen a lot, and who have developed a keen eye for that which younger folk seem to revel in: hype. A wine column in AARP would offer its readers a straightforward review of wine along the lines of: "10 Red Wines and Why You’ll Like Them". No unknowable descriptors like "hedonistic", "angular", or "tight." Instead, each review would surely give the readers what they want to know: "This wine is smooth, smells like baked cherry pie, tastes like dried cherry and vanilla and is only a little sharp on the tongue.
People Magazine’s Wines of the Stars
If there is a more celebrity-obsessed culture than America, I’m not aware it. The fact is, J. Lo’s or Paris Hilton’s favorite wine could carry more weight with the average American than any 95 point wine identified by Robert Parker. Yes, these recommendations would mean different things, I suppose. Here I’m definitely thinking as a marketer. But imagine how this would promote the mainstreaming of wine.
The Ultimate Wine Geek Journal
Here’s what I’m thinking. Each issue profiles 10 wines. But each wine is given a thorough going over. Not just taste, but a description of the wine’s provenance is ever sense of the word: history of the wine and of past vintages, profile of the vineyard and growing techniques, winemaker’s bio and approach to wine, how the wine was made and why, a comparison of the wine to its peers, how the wine fits contextually into the current wine market and the stylistic range of similar wines. Everything. Granted, such a journal would have a very small audience. But we who would buy it deserve it.
As a literary genre, wine writing is pretty unique. The number of wine writers who actually get paid for what they do is really astoundingly large compared to the relatively small number of wine drinkers in America. And consider the context: what other consumable has magazines, sections in book stores and weekly columns in newspapers devoted to it? Still, more are necessary. Don’t you think?