Corkscrew – the highly improbable, but occasionally true, tale of a professional wine buyer.
Corkscrew introduces Felix Hart, a true hero for our times and the greatest tongue east of Napa. Join Felix in his relentless, alcohol-soaked climb to the summit of the international wine trade.
This is going to be a fun read. Anyone who’s read my Road Warrior Survivor Guide, which debuted in the print copy of Wine Business Monthly (August of 2001), knows there’s a sassy world out there.
With Peter Stafford-Bow being a professional wine buyer, I’m betting that the story’s characters are going to be classic!
According to Peter, however: “I have attached a close up detail from the cover, however, of the protagonist’s face (not that I’m claiming this to be an autobiography, I’d soon be in jail if I did…!)”
My copy of his book will be arriving soon. Before I get into it, though, I asked Peter to answer my usual wine writer questionnaire. It always gives me more insight into the daily workings of a writer’s mind. Peter did not disappoint.
Before we begin, though, one quick quote from Peter:
It is a bawdy satire set in the world of wine and big business – I’ve worked as a supermarket buyer for 20 years so I know the subject well! It’s something like a cross between ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ and ‘Sideways’, if that’s not off-putting, and it’s selling well in the the UK.
[Q] Many wine writers also have a day job. If wine isn’t your job, what is and for whom?
[Peter Stafford-Bow’s Answer] I’ve worked for many years in the wine industry – as a wine seller in merchants, as a buyer for large chain stores and as a consultant for retailers and wineries. I currently consult across the food and drink business.
[Q] When did you start writing about wine?
[A] Corkscrew is my debut novel and I began serious work in early 2015.
[Q] What prompted you to start writing about wine?
[A] I’ve always wanted to write fiction about the people and places across the world of wine – I think they are fascinating, glamorous and a lot more exciting than most wine drinkers realise!
[Q] What aspect(s) of wine do you most enjoy covering?
[A] The drinking! I love the story that a wine’s flavor tells you about history, provenance, climate and the local people.
[Q] How has your job changed since you’ve started?
[A] I now want to write more novels! The sequel to Corkscrew is due out next year.
[Q] What’s the most memorable wine you’ve ever tasted?
[A] A Riesling from the Mösel Valley – it was an Erdener Treppchen, not an expensive one, but it was early in my career, I’d never tasted an estate Riesling and I thought it was ethereal.
[Q] What’s your favorite variety?
[A] Pinot Noir – when you get that perfect combination of perfume and soil it’s life affirming.
[Q] Do you believe that there are better quality, lower priced wines today, than in past vintages?
[A] Yes – cheaper wines are probably getting ‘better’, as winemaking technical standards improve across the world. But it’s at the expense of diversity of flavor, as the giant multi-national winemakers and mega-co-operatives gobble up the competition and produce similar, market-chasing styles.
[Q] What’s your favorite innovation in the wine industry over the past few years?
[A] the move towards minimal intervention or ‘natural’ wines is very welcome. And the Coravin is a pretty cool gadget too!
[Q] What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?
[A] Beef stew and Cahors – it’s all about being in the right place – i.e. Cahors in this case…!
[Q] What are your interests outside of the wine business?
[A] Gardening, reading, carousing.
[Q] Who inspires you (wine business or outside of it, doesn’t matter)?
[A] Jancis Robinson is a good egg. Self-taught, incredibly learned yet modest, erudite without being obscure, extremely nice and approachable in person.
[Q] What single project or task would you consider your most significant accomplishment in your career to date?
[A] Writing Corkscrew – I still can’t quite believe I managed to produce a full-length, well-selling novel.
[Q] For what would you like to be remembered?
[A] So long as people say: “I suppose he was ok, all things considered,” that will be fine by me.