Decanter is a British magazine that’s a bit snooty at times -many of the articles are written by Masters of Wine – so it’s not always a good fit for wine novices.
They also tend to ignore the “vinous offerings” (wines) of a lot of us “colonials” (American wineries).
There are some good articles in here, though, and some insights you won’t get from the Yankee rags. Michael Broadbent is always fun to read, and Steven Spurrier, the guy who held the “Judgment of Paris” tasting in 1976, also has a column. I subscribe.
Wine Enthusiast often seems more like a vehicle for promoting its “wine paraphernalia” business of the same name.
Thing is, the gear is pretty good – I’ve bought more than my share – and the really good thing is that wine paraphernalia is legal, unlike pipes and bongs!
I find the writing and photography a level below Wine Spectator but hey, they just did a nice article on my old Chicago haunt “Pops for Champagne.” So I gotta give ’em their props. I really don’t talk like this, by the way.
I don’t subscribe, and frankly they ought to give me a free subscription for all the stuff I’ve bought, including the cooling unit for my wine cellar.
Wine Spectator is a little full of itself at times, but never dull, and the long features are often really fun and fascinating.
Good emphasis on food here, too, which’ll give you some good ideas for entertaining, and the photography is excellent.
I don’t subscribe, but only because my friend Brian Hammill of Township Wine and Liquor gives me free copies.
Wines & Vines
Wines & Vines is an excellent magazine, but it’s really for people in the wine business, or interested in it. Serious wine novices will find articles about the techniques and challenges of winemaking that they’ll enjoy. Others who just want to purchase, taste and enjoy wine risk being bored to tears.
I subscribe to, and heartily recommend this publication if you want to learn more about how wine gets into the botle as opposed to what you smell and taste in the glass.
Do it yourself-ers will find a home at Wine Maker. This is a fun magazine that focuses on making wine at home, which seems to be increasingly popular.
There’s a bit of wine science and microbiology, articles on topics such as making your own labels, blending tips, and wine competitions. It’s for people who are truly serious about being vintners, whether in their backyard, on a family farm, or merely a corner of their basement.
Vineyard & Winery Management
Vineyard & Winery Management is another wine trade publication that serious wine novices might find interesting.
This pub seems to specialize in wine PR, marketing, and the ins-and-outs of dealing with the myriad of regulations that wineries face today.
I subscribed for three years and found it worthwhile.
Food & Wine
Food & Wine is just what it says, and the cooking gets equal if not greater play than the quaffing. Here you’ll find lots of ideas for entertaining, one of the big pleasures of wine, and lots of tips on food and wine pairing.
I subscribed to this for a couple years and stopped only because I felt bad about not being able to try all the recipes.
I do recommend Food & Wine to wine novices and especially those who like to throw dinner parties!
The World of Fine Wine
The World of Fine Wine is a publication for people who see the larger context and are deeply interested in history, culture, sociology, and other factors that have influenced, and have been influenced by, wine. As one observer put it, “Which other magazine would dare to treat intoxication, synaesthesia, linguistic muddle, arrested fermentation, Champagne riots, Rabelais’s laughter, van Gogh’s madness, and gout?”
This magazine is also very different in the size of its larger features – some up to 10,000 words, which is several times larger than the larger features in the high-end wine consumer magazines such as Decanter.
I’m not saying don’t try this, but if you’re just looking for modest features, crisp tasting notes with prices and short, witty columns, look elsewhere. This is a long, luxury read that you can’t and won’t want to hurry through.
Wine News magazine is built on extended features illustrated with great photographs; extensive (maybe too extensive) coverage of wine auctions around the country; long and well-written profiles of wineries, winemakers and their grape growers, the often unsung heroes of this art; and of course tasting notes with obligatory 100-point scores. The Buyline section mimics buying guides in The Wine Enthusiast, Decanter and other consumer wine pubs, but doesn’t have enough value-priced selections in my view, although as the economy continues to tank I suspect the editors may change that. Thoughtful editorials and wine news “vignettes” share space with trade ads that are consumer-oriented, as fits the style of the magazine. All-in-all, a well-done publication.
Published monthly, Imbibe is really all about the culture of drinking, and by no means focuses on wine. For example, the May/June issue cover story is “Your Ultimate Home Bar Guide” illustrated with a (rather delicious-looking) martini, while other cover stories include “75 Cocktails You Can Make at Home, How to Entertain Like a Pro, and Tequila Cupcakes.”
Fun stuff is inside, such as bartender’s tricks involving setting drinks afire (don’t let your high school-age kids see that), bar gadgets, extensive how-to’s, recommendations on coffee roasters, and soap made from beer. Fret not, they do have wine stories, but if you’re not fond of beer, spirits, coffees and entertaining, this ain’t the read for you.
In the Mix
The cover of the quarterly In the Mix says “Innovate/Indulge/Explore” on its cover…but it’s really a trade magazine rather than a consumer pub – with articles about promotion and education, entertainment marketing, mixology and restaurant cooking.
Still, there’s a lot of stuff of interest to wine lovers, but again by no means is this a wine-oriented publication. Frequent pieces about the world’s best lodgings, from large resorts to boutique B&B’s are useful for wine travelers, and the wine features when you find them are excellent (such as the recent one about discovering an old wine cellar and equipping it to modern standards).
But if you’re looking for wine news and reviews, you won’t find them here.