The Case for More Wine Columns
If I'm not mistaken, fewer daily and weekly papers and fewer consumer magazines are publishing wine columns; at least fewer than 10 to 15 years ago. The reasons for this are surely myriad, but most important is that circulation for newspapers is falling, along with revenue from display ads and the bottom dropping out of the market for classified ads. This leads to fewer pages to fill with content and stuff must be cut. Often, wine columns of the stuff of cuts.
Yet, I think a compelling case can be made for the return of the wine column, in both newspapers and general consumer magazines.
1. The Demographics Are Right
The wine drinking demographic is a desirable one. Wine drinkers tend to be higher income, have disposable income, and buy a lot of related products such as gourmet goods, vacations and restaurant services. Attracting this kind of demographic to one's pages can't hurt the search for advertisers
2. The Wine Column is Perfectly Suited for (the new) Newspapers
With newspapers no longer a near singular source of hard news, they have moved to providing analysis and information to keep readers. Wine columns are perfectly suited for such content requirements. The weekly wine column gives those looking to newspapers for entertainment and information what they are looking for.
3. A Food Section Isn't Complete Without Wine
No one interested in putting food on the table and reading about the same does so without also putting a beverage on the table. Wine is the beverage of meals. It's the first beverage we think of when we think of a meal's accompanying beverage. The very idea of excluding wine as subject matter from food and dining sections is simply irresponsible.
4. Wine Columns Present the Perfect Venue for Exploring New, Local Emerging Wine Regions
If local media won't explore, cover and explain local wine industries, who will? One of the most important developments in the American wine culture is the expansion of wineries and winemaking in non-traditional areas: Texas, Illinois, New Mexico, Arizona, New England, the Eastern Seaboard. Everywhere new wineries and wine industries are springing up. Locally penned wine columns are probably one of the only media outlets likely to cover their development and promote their successes.
5. There Exists Ample Talent to Choose From for the Job of Wine Writer
Local bloggers, local wine experts, local wine retailers, not to mention nationally known writers and wine bloggers are all available to pen columns in local newspapers, local magazines and national magazines. Writing talent and wine expertise is not an issue. Editors could have their pick.
6. A Wine Column Could Mean Much More to Editorial Content Than Just Wine Reviews
The subject of wine is one that dovetails and integrates elegantly with other subject matter that also needs coverage. Agriculture, small business, retail and tourism are all important areas of interest to readers that also intersects with wine and that could, in the hands of a good writer, all be explored under the rubric of a wine column.
7. The Long Tradition of Wine Criticism Deserves Wide Exposure
The craft of winemaking and its liquid results have been a source of inspiration for thoughtful critics for at least a century or more. Like those who made a career of evaluating the current world of art, dance, architecture, literature and film, wine critics fall into this same, legitimate tradition of seeking meaning in arts and craft. The beauty of wine is that this critical tradition is more comfortably embraced by the average american that the generally esoteric commentary currently published in the areas of art, architecture, literature and otherwise. In other words, newspapers and magazines can meet their quota of exploring culture by hiring someone to tell us what that new merlot at the Piggly Wiggly tastes like.
While I believe that wine columns make most sense from a business and editorial perspective for daily newspapers, I'm sure they also make sense for America's general consumer magazines. It's a travesty that the New Yorker has not used its verified good taste to host a monthly wine column. In addition many of the very popular "women's" magazines are screaming out for regular wine content. Add The Atlantic and Harpar's to the list of national magazines that have a readership deserving of intelligent wine commentary.
Whether the wine column will make a comeback is unknown by this blogger/PR guy. Trends start, wane and return and wane again. However I do know that editors who dismiss the utility of the wine column are making a mistake.