wine writer (n.)
This is part of a series called Wine Words, a glossary in the works that breaks down the barrier between those in the wine know and those who have no idea what the hell everyone's talking about. A new word posts once a week, covering everything from a grape name or region, to a winemaking or tasting term.
Wine Writer (n.)
As you may have heard, Pig&Vine was selected as a finalist for Best Writing on a Wine Blog by this year's eminent panel of judges for the nonprofit Wine Blog Awards, a nearly decade-old affair created to recognize the tops of the most democratic arm of publishing known as the blogosphere. (go ahead and vote for P&V right quick, then bounce back here) It seemed fitting then to tackle this confusing term in this week's Wine Words episode. In short, a wine writer is one who wine writes.
"Wine Writing," Jancis Robinson, MW, writes in her seminal work, The Oxford Companion to Wine, "a parasitical activity undertaken by wine writers enabled by vine-growing and winemaking but more usually associated with wine tasting, and even wine drinking, than with either of the former." Robinson is among the most famous, most renowned of wine writers on the planet and her dry British wit certainly shows in this entry. I wonder if she thinks of herself first as a writer, or always as a wine writer.
Robert Parker, Jr. might even be more well known in the United States than the author of the aforementioned encyclopedic tome, if only for his controversial influence over wine style in the latter part of the 20th century, and for his trademark practice of reducing a producers blood, sweat and tears to a numerical score. I loathe scores. They're lazy on the part of the writer and lazy on the part of the reader. But what do I know? I'm a blogger. Novelist Jay McInerney (Bright Lights, Big City) has written wine columns for the now defunct Home & Garden and The Wall Street Journal and combines an ease for language with an unpretentious and partisan attitude toward wine with, as you'd expect from a fiction writer, a literary tone. I just read this morning an excerpt about Tavel where he mentions A.J. Liebling's love for the small Southern Rhône appellation that makes exclusively rosé wines. Funny, a co-worker still in the very early stages of her wine education asked me Monday evening if Tavel was worth all the attention some patrons throw its way. Liebling's 1959 memoir Between Meals about his youth spent in Paris, pre-staff position at The New Yorker, is a beautiful and compelling work for all who love food and wine and France.
Alice Feiring, staunch advocate for the natural wine movement, has recently published her third book, a look into the ancient winemaking history of Georgia (the country). Her second book, Naked Wine: Letting Grapes Do What Comes Naturally, is an adventure to discover the original seed of this new sometimes militant group of winemakers. Jon Bonné's The New California Wine is deeply informative and story-driven, though I recommend reading Paul Lukac's American Vintage: The Rise of American Wine first for a solid background on the old California, for stronger context. Bonné also writes regularly for the online publication Punch Drink, which I love dearly. I could not have passed the WSET Diploma exam without Anthony Hanson's Burgundy, even if it is 30 years old. (It was only 17ish when I was studying). Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy by Joe Bastianich and David Lynch arrived from Amazon a few weeks ago and I have yet to crack the spine. I used to sell Mauro Veglio Barolo to David Lynch when he ran the wine program at Mario Batali's Babbo. He was always one of my favorites.
Morrison Wood, who probably would not have considered himself a wine writer per se, mentioned the stuff often enough in his cooking column "For Men Only!" which he wrote for the Chicago Daily Tribune in the 1940s and 50s. There's a brief wine chart at the front of With a Jug of Wine, a collection of his columns turned recipe book, I find charming for the dated language - he often refers to his wife as "The Little Woman", in earnest - but also for the mention of dry Sauternes, which some people think is a recent trend. My real love for this book is that my father used to make Wood's recipe for anchovy toast with scrambled eggs in sherry and parmesan for breakfast on special occasions. I preferred his Eggs Benedict, but anytime Harry Collins cooked, it was a treat.
I hope I've cleared up some confusion here. One can be both wine blogger and writer. Or is this a Chablis is always chardonnay but chardonnay is not always Chablis situation? Whatever. GO VOTE FOR PIG&VINE PLEASE. Love you forever.