The World of The World of Fine Wine Magazine

Vinted on October 18, 2010 binned in wine publications

I receive quite a bit of wine for which I pay nothing.  I have never bothered to measure the volume of influx of wine samples to my door, but it is high enough that whenever the doorbell rings in the afternoon, my toddler daughter now exclaims “more boxes of wine, daddy!”

Generally this volume of samples means two things for me:

  1. I cannot dream of complaining about the situation, even though it largely results in my basement storage space being taken up with shipping materials full bottles of wine that aren’t necessarily very good; and
  2. Whenever I receive a sample of something that isn’t actually a bottle of wine, I take notice immediately.

So naturally, the sample copy of Issue 29 of the UK-based publication The World of Fine Wine I received recently really stood out, as did the letter of introduction from its editor, Neil Beckett (and not just because it was printed on A4 paper).  Here’s what Neil wrote to me (I’m hoping he doesn’t mind me reproducing it here):

“Some of my team here are followers of your site and we hoped you might like to see what we do in a rather more old-fashioned medium…”

That medium of course being a printed magazine, though calling The World of Fine Wine a magazine is a bit like calling the Bible a doorstop.  It’s a gorgeous example of print, with stunning art reproductions and photography, and its 200+ pages put it more into the coffee-table-book species than what we in the U.S. customarily think of when asked to picture a wine magazine in our mind’s eyes.  It also costs £30 per issue – or, roughly $170 for four issues.  Ouch!…

After reading through Issue #29, my humble assessment of The World of Fine Wine – which is probably influenced by the fact that its contributors (which include Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson, Oz Clarke, James Halliday, David Peppercorn, Serena Sutcliffe, Gerald Asher, Randall Grahm, Jeannie Cho Lee, Clive Coates, and Michael Broadbent) actually might read this website (holy crap!) – is that the publication is pretty much worth every penny for those who might be fed-up with the major wine magazine publications that currently dominate the U.S. market.

Nothing against those pubs, of course – they serve many a purpose in providing value to wine consumers of all levels – but The World of Fine Wine is just more… serious; through quality of writing that rivals the best in the world on any consumer / cultural topic, it’s The New Yorker of wine mags.

“Check us out when you’re ready,” it seems to say, which is a nice British way telling us “we’ll be here when you grow up.”

Having said that, The World of Fine Wine isn’t stuffy at all, and those that come away with that impression are probably giving it too superficial of a judgment – it simply makes assumptions about its readership, which is to say it assumes they’re smart and that if a reader doesn’t quite know what the author of any particular article is talking about at first, s/he will keep reading and enjoying and eventually will figure it out. In that way, it’s University- and Masters-level reading for the budding wine geek.

In that way, it’s like a breath of fresh air to someone who’s been trapped for the last six weeks in a cave.

You don’t need to take my word for it, though – their website offers free sample features for your perusal, which is really smart business, because when you read something like David White’s lucid “outsider” take on the sad state of U.S. interstate wine shipping laws (it ought to be required reading for anyone who wants to offer opinion on the topic of the three-tier system), well, you’re going to run the risk of being hooked.  The World of Fine Wine is the type of publication that doesn’t need to be released more than four times a year, because it’s going to take you three months to get through a single issue; and even then I suspect many people would keep the older issue around for reference later given that their writers are so f—king talented and have such deep expertise on their subjects.

All of which is only appropriate, I suspect, given its not-insubstantial price tag!

Cheers!

(images: finewinemag.com)

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    Comments

  • Dale Cruse


    I received the same issue with a letter worded the same way. I'm guessing many others did too.

    You're right about the content, but I should mention the production values are equally high.

    Despite all this, I strongly question whether I will actually subscribe. Will you?

    • 1WineDude


      Oh, I'm sure many folks in the wine press received it (I hope so, otherwise I'd seriously question their PR/marketing strategy on this one!), but I'm with you, Dale, in that I I'd see many people deciding not to subscribe probably due to the price (but may pick up individual issues depending on the content).

  • Steve Heimoff


    Dude, I hope they give you a free subscription for that advertorial!

    • 1WineDude


      :-)

      Steve – I'm not expecting one; I was genuinely floored by the quality of the writing (obviously). Not sure any of my words carry enough weight to get people to cough up that kind of dough for a subscription, though!

  • Steve Heimoff


    Yeah that's a lot of dough for a magazine especially in the recession. Personally I find myself not reading other wine magazines anymore. Used to read them all.

    • 1WineDude


      Guess it also depends on what you want out of them, of course. If you're looking for recommendations on latest releases, then WFW is not right for you and obviously WS, WE, blogs, etc. are the better choice. Wine & Spirits probably has a bit more of the writing / article bent to it (in my experience) and WFW sits more in that space, though kind of like W&S on steroids! ;-)

  • Dale Cruse


    Personally I find myself not reading other wine blogs anymore. Used to read them all.

    • 1WineDude


      Dale, a blog really needs to connect with readers for someone to read it consistently and as readers we're no exceptions! :-)

      It's funny, I get asked all the time about which wine blogs I read, and while I think there's a lot of talent out there, not all of them "speak to me" as a reader and wine fan, and so I've got maybe 10 – 14 in my RSS reader right now, and that's it.

      • Dale Cruse


        I have maybe half that many in my RSS reader – & those are the folks I know personally. That said, I do follow a few more wine bloggers than that on Twitter & usually see updates & links to posts that way.

  • vinogirl


    That is an expensive magazine, but I'm sure, if the writing is of the quality that you say, that they will have many subscribers.

    • 1WineDude


      Well, vinogirl, ideally you'd be right, but the economy being what it is I'm not so sure great writing equates to a big number of subscribers. :(

      • RichardA


        Their site states they had a paid circulation of only 8000.

        • 1WineDude


          8000 very wealthy subscribers? :)

      • vinogirl


        Don't despair for the UK, there are plenty of folks there still buying up futures in First growth Bordeaux, despite the economic downturn.

  • 1WineDude


    You know what, Richard, I don't think I would subscribe, but if blown away by the content of a particular issue I'd buy it.

  • 1WineDude


    Richard – $40 large buys a LOT of Crane Lake, bro… :)

    • RichardA


      Or one case of a 100 pt Bordeaux.

  • Jenny


    Beautiful illustrations but a trifle out of my price range.

  • 1WineDude


    Sediment – well, the catch phrase on your blog is "I've Bought It So I'll Drink It" so that might help explain why the free stuff isn't coming your way yet… ;-)

  • Shauna


    My boyfriend asked for this magazine subscription for Christmas… then I saw the price and asked him if it was lined with gold! Basically, he's pretty darn excited about it and based on your review and others, I can see why. They have a holiday special at the moment – $85 for a two copy subscription plus some sort of bag with your purchase. I think it's a great way to trial the mag! :)

    • 1WineDude


      Shauna – It's probably *too* pricey, at this point…

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