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The State of Wine Writing and What Wine Writers Think

In my weekly trolling of all things wine, I recently came across this interesting article from Wine Business Weekly. It presents the result of a yearly study of wine writing and writers in America.

The study is a good brush across the surface of wine writing today with several obvious gaps. The first is the simplistic dismissal of the Internet as simply a delivery mechanism for writing originating elsewhere. While it's no surprise that people in the industry aren't yet clued into blogs like this one, its surprising they do not mention several increasingly reliable sources of wine information that are solely web based -- ranging from newsletters like those produced by Natalie Maclean to Mark Squires' e-zine to the interviews by Arthur P. Johnson at Wine People to the message boards at West Coast Wine.

Additionally the survey correctly points out that the majority of the wine writing in the states today is syndicated daily and weekly columns as well as magazines dedicated overwhelmingly to ratings and education in that order. This is, of course, no surprise, but it would have been really nice to know what else is out there -- after we've told people the difference between Pinot Chardonnay and Chardonnay and given them ten wines under $20 to buy, what else are we writing about?

Not-so-amazingly (damn that patriarchy) 76% of wine writers are male, but perhaps more surprisingly 91% are over 40 years of age and a full 60% are over 50! If we ever needed a reason why wine is still considered a stuffy upper-class drink, look no further. I'm happy to represent the (hopefully growing) segment of wine writers under 40.

Lots more interesting tidbits in the full article.

Comments (3)

Tom Wark wrote:
09.30.04 at 8:57 AM


It's hard to argue that the survey we conducted on American Wine Writers didn't go into depth on the state of the Internet and Wine Writing. However, we did make the point that the emergence of the Net and the access it gives to excellent wine prose is the biggest change to hit the wine writing industry in the past decade.

We will do an update to the American Wine Writer Survey in a couple years. Perhaps at that time I can extract more info out of the Wine Writers as to their feelings about the Internet, how they use it, how it helps and how it hinders their work.

In the mean time, GREAT Site.

Tom Wark
Wark Communications

Vino Rich wrote:
09.30.04 at 9:03 AM

Couldn't agree more, Alder. I think its only a matter of time before online wine writing, reviews and ratings become better recognized. Of course, interest in wine among those who commonly read blogs and the like is key. However, over time wine writing can only follow the trends already set by polictical, techy and sports blogs.

I'd also add Route de Vin to your list of worthy newsletters ([email protected]).

Alder wrote:
09.30.04 at 9:43 AM

Thanks for your comment and your praise, and I'm impressed you hunted down my posting within 12 hours :-)


Perhaps I didn't make my point clearly enough, but while you did talk about the _access_ that the Internet gives to fine wine writing, it seemed like it was more in the context of access to existing writing -- i.e. this was just another distribution channel. My point, and area of interest, is in the _other types_ of wine writing that are available ONLY on the Internet, which I didn't think you (or maybe the folks you interviewed) addressed much.

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