Wine EX: A Ground Breaker Goes
It would be easy to easily suggest that "magazines come and go in the wine industry" in a cavalier fashion. But the fact is, magazines rarely come to the wine industry. When they do, it’s a big deal. It was a big deal when Wine X came to the industry.
Wine X promised to deliver Generation X to wine marketers. With it’s somewhat irreverent attitude yet deathly serious proposition that wine needs to be fun, it delivered that audience.
In my nearly 17 years in this business I’ve never come across a media project as controversial as Wine X Magazine. Much of that controversy resulted from the attitude, broadcast always across the cover as "Wine, Food and a Slice Vice."
When Wine X Magazine first started publishing, its creator Darryl Roberts was inundated with folks who seemed to want to see him die. No one had treated wine the way he and his magazine did. The attacks
were motivated by the idea that wine is serious business, that it should be treated as such and anyone who dared strip away the veil of conceit was probably a miscreant who needed some manhandling. In fact the attacks on the magazine were very similar to this position, taken from a Letter to the Editor writer at Decanter Magazine positioned below their story on the demise of Wine X:
"Wine is, and should remain, something to which young adults can be
encouraged to aspire – as a right of passage into the next phase of
their adult development. Even if successful, attempting to make wine
‘cool’ to the so-called X-ers will result in wine becoming distinctly
‘un-cool’ to them as they mature and the risk is that they will be lost
This is exactly the kind of elitism that Darryl saw throughout the industry and attempted to combat and prove wrong with Wine X.
Roberts took it all in stride and found various opportunities to shoot back at his critics.
When some thing goes away that has been around for a while we are prone to attempt to assess its final value. What did it contribute. There is no question that Wine X forced the industry to at least consider there was a different way to market to young adults. That question is no longer even asked. It’s assumed to be an important question and the focus is on how to do it well.
I also believe that Darryl Roberts unique method of reviewing wine had a profound influence on wine reviewers. Darryl. regularly compared wine to Rock Stars gone bad, scantily clad women with berries in their bosom and other cheeky but always entertaining ideas. Today, the review of wines with pop culture allusions is commonplace.
Wine X Magazine always used the XXX Scale to rate wines. He didn’t think the 100 point scale made any sense at all. If you want to understand Daryl Robert’s ironic side, all you need to do is take a look at the page on his website where reviews once sat and see where he is pointing folks for reviews now.
Along the way, Wine X produced some magnificent reading that often led to scandalous and fascinating ideas. You can find many of the articles here.
If you know Wine X magazine you may or may not have enjoyed it. But don’t ever think it didn’t make a difference.