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Commentary,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Magazine,Wine Writer

COMMENTARY: Writing about wine is not like playing King of the Mountain, or is it?

Each spring, rams come out and butt heads, yet another year, establishing the year’s pecking order…

Notice how much human beings do the same thing. I should research how many wars were started between the dates of March 21 to April 20th, the astrological time of Aries the Ram. I know there are some, like the US Civil War (hostilities began on April 12, 1861) and the Falklands War (which began on April 2, 1982), for instance.

I wonder what the proportion of those started between these dates really is, versus wars started during other times of the year?

When the ancients came up with these totem animals for the astrological signs, be they real or mythological beings, what they decided upon had to do with what that particular season represented for them, from what was happening at the time. For Aries, when plants had to push up forcefully from the ground, animals were also jockeying for who would lead the pack for the next birth cycle… whose seed would guarantee that the strongest beasts would be born from the strongest “ram tough” players, by engaging in King of the Mountain. This is no child’s game. It’s life and death, and some beast always has to retire or die in the process.

In my cycle of raising children, for instance, each spring during the time of Aries, I guarantee you that the neighborhood children – after being enclosed all winter for the most part in Maine’s brutal winters – would emerge during this time, and the jockeying for King of the Hill would begin. Fights and fighting naturally emerged, and I’d have to go outside to break it up by being the voice of reason.

Now that “reasoned” voice has become a “seasoned” one, I still find myself reminding people to play nice. I guess that’s one of my roles in life… to temper tempers, to bring in a sense of reasoning where I notice it might not exist. And that’s where I found myself this past week in a couple of instances, with one of them directly related to wine.

When someone, like a wine writer or publisher, decides to hang up his or her dancing shoes, it’s not an easy decision. It takes months, if not years to come to that decision. I’ve been wrestling with why I’m so adamant about writing one blog posting a day, Monday through Friday, after six years of doing this. Years ago, that would have not only been called a book, in some circles it would have also been called an anthology. In the process I’ve undertaken, there’s someone inside of me that’s being deeply satisfied, most especially since I haven’t had to please anyone but myself: no editor to ask for rewrites; no title being swapped out for something insipid, versus the one I know would sell tons of copies based on calling it something very provocative…like, “If Walls Could Talk, the Dairies of an Inn.” It’s been just writing and writing because it was there, it wanted to come out, and it’s made sense at the time based of each of my life’s observations.

Richard Elia’s decision to stop printing Quarterly Review of Wines, got a lot of people talking and thinking. When The Wine News went out of business, it was done so quietly that no one knew until is was just “over.” With the announcement of QRW’s closing it’s production – but not its Website, it got us all talking; much like when Gourmet magazine closed shop, but keeping its online presence. Whether we like it or not, this is the way of the future… In 100 years, do we think there still will be books printed? (Ask the makers of Kindle.)

Does anyone really use a typewriter anymore? Are computer hard drives still the size of a large room? Times change and the closing of another magazine is simply evolution.

Some millennials were salivating… “Yes, one more beast bites the dust, just as we thought; but, why is he so negative on the way out of the door?” they queried.

“It’s hard to say goodbye, and there are stages of grief that have to be remembered by the rest of us,” I answered back (paraphrasing).

Other magazines got quotes. Decanter…

Brian St Pierre, wine and food writer and former PR director of the California Wine Institute told Decanter.com he considered QRW ‘a splendid enterprise.’

‘I always thought of it as the “Quality Review of Wine”. It persistently fought the good fight, of preserving the passion and love of wine, with civility. It seems to be going more from battle fatigue than that the crass bad guys are winning, but they leave the field with honour intact (and the fight goes on, I hope).’

QRW had published continuously since 1977, maintained a circulat[i]on of 150,000, and had many admirers, including Haut Brion owner Prince Robert of Luxembourg, who considered it ‘one of America’s greatest wine magazines’, and Michael Broadbent.

This one going away has (again) rocked the wine world, regardless of the generation, because it was so good. It was well written and represented both its writers and its subjects in the best possible light. Just like those before it that have closed its doors, when the door closes to a favorite haunt, it’s disheartening and we all react differently to the “moving on.”

 

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3 Responses to “COMMENTARY: Writing about wine is not like playing King of the Mountain, or is it?”

  1. Andrea says:

    What a beautiful and well-written post, Jo. Truly tugged at my heart strings. Reading online will never be the same as reading with the object (e.g., magazine, book) in your hand.

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    Andrea… Amen. (And thanks.)

  3. Janesta says:

    Thank you for your commentary… I too like the discourse and the object.

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