The World of Fine Wine magazine, published quarterly, was launched in 2004 and now has subscribers in 35 countries around the world. It is the brainchild of Dr Laurence Orbach, the chairman of Quarto Publishing Inc., who appreciates fine wine and felt that there was no magazine in English that catered for it satisfactorily – nothing that was adequately narrow in one way (concentrating on fine wine), broad enough in other ways (covering the culture and history of wine), or sufficiently serious in its treatment. Through our first publisher he recruited to the cause our Editorial Adviser Hugh Johnson, Contributing Editor Andrew Jefford, and the rest of the editorial team, all of whom identified with the original vision and wanted to make it a reality. So too did the distinguished wine figures around the world who have generously agreed to be on our editorial board or tasting panel. The goal of the magazine is to offer an alternative perspective on fine wine, in terms of subject, treatment and values. We hope to produce something that is not dominated by fad or fashion, nor one individual’s palate, nor the latest over-hyped wines; something that is much more than a ratings magazine, even though our own tastings play an important role; something that subscribers will want to keep on their shelves because it has lasting value. As Hugh Johnson kindly put it: “The World of Fine Wine takes wine journalism in a new, more sophisticated direction. It is not a consumer magazine, but the first cultural journal of the wine world. It acknowledges that wine-lovers have other interests, too, and the same high standards in whatever they do. The first 20 issues have been a remarkable demonstration of new possibilities. I know I don't want to read the same old marketing jargon ever again”. Or as David Schildknecht asked, “Which other magazine would dare to treat intoxication, synaesthesia, linguistic muddle, arrested fermentation, Champagne riots, Rabelais’s laughter, van Gogh’s madness, and gout?”
There is no room for another magazine in English that attempts to compete on the “broad middle ground”. But we believe strongly that there is still a place for a magazine that fills in some of the gaps that the others choose to leave. The biggest distinguishing features are the range of the subject matter and the depth of the treatment. We will publish articles ranging from the Ancient Chinese or Greeks or Romans right up to the latest en primeur releases. We will also have articles by authoritative writers who are given the space to treat the subject seriously. Of course an article doesn’t have to be long to be worthwhile, any more than a wine has to be old to be fine; but there are some fairly complex subjects that require space if they are not to be superficial. While some of the articles are shorter, our major features are up to 10,000 words long – that’s several times longer than those in other magazines.
The way we organize our tastings is also different. We make every effort to source all of the best bottles, regardless of price or rarity. We have only three tasters for each tasting – an acknowledged “specialist” on the subject and two experienced “generalists” – selected from a fixed panel of about 30 (including Hugh Johnson, Jancis Robinson MW, Andrew Jefford, Michel Bettane, Michael Schuster and Tom Stevenson). This allows all comments and scores to be attributed individually and reproduced in full (so no composite notes). And in the few cases where the personal preferences of the tasters are not already well known, they will quickly become so. The system combines the advantages of a highly respected single taster with the benefits of an established, expert panel, where a range of views can be expressed or mutually reinforced. To guarantee the accuracy and integrity of the process, all comments and scores from our blind tastings are entered simultaneously onto a computer database. We are conscious, however, that while blind tastings and scores have their uses, so too do open tastings and the free exchange of ideas. When wines appear as themselves, as they do in our One Bottle, Per Se, and Standing Up sections, we can establish a more immediate and intimate rapport with the wines and reach a deeper understanding of them, without the need for a score.
While the preferences of our tasters varies widely, of course, I think it would still to be true to say that they prize most highly the qualities that have been rather underestimated in recent years – balance, elegance, and harmony. There are people who enjoy concentrated, highly extracted, lavishly oaked, powerfully structured, very rich, ripe wines – and that’s fine. But there have always been at least as many wine lovers who get more pleasure from less demonstrative, more naturally expressive, more food-friendly wines, who appreciate complexity, finesse and subtlety. Their preferences have not always been adequately catered for, so we again try to fill that gap. I’m convinced that part of the problem has been that balance, aurea mediocritas (‘the golden mean’) has become less attractive – conceptually, emotionally, intellectually – than it has been for most of the time since Horace coined the phrase. Many people now find extremes more exciting. Which is why I asked Professor Roger Scruton, a highly regarded English philosopher and historian of ideas, to explain the value that most cultures have attached to the idea of moderation. But the pendulum has started to swing back: consumers are starting to tire of being bludgeoned into submission, of being overwhelmed, and many producers all over the world are beginning to recognize that they often went too far in terms of ripeness, extraction and new wood.
Each quarterly issue of the magazine is 216 pages long (and because we depend more on subscriptions than on advertising, very few of these pages are ads). The range is very wide.
We cover contemporary news and events in sections such as Nouveau, Preview, Review, Auctions and Calendar.
We include the most recent en primeur offers or new releases in Laying Down (for example, 2005 Bordeaux, 2005 Burgundy, 2001 Barolo, 2001 California Cabernet, 1999 Tuscan Sangiovese), as well as tastings of older wines in Per Se and Savor (Prestige Cuvée Champagne, Gevrey-Chambertin Grands Crus, Volnay Premiers Crus, Barolo 1996-1997, Vintage Port 1970–2000).
We have highly individual, personal pieces: Memorable Wine (where interesting individuals are described and their most special wine experiences explained in the context of their lives); Underground (where notable collectors and their collections are discussed); Symposium (impressive private tastings); Bordeaux Portrait (a detailed profile of a château owner or winemaker, including those at Ausone, Cheval Blanc, L’Eglise-Clinet, Margaux, Léoville-Barton, Pichon-Baron); and On the Vine (a detailed profile of a producer in other regions, such as DRC, Leroy, Conterno, Ridge).
We also have very general, large subjects in our three major features (authenticity in wine, how to define quality in wine, wine and synaesthesia, regional studies of terroir); an historical piece, Then & Now (Ancient Chinese wine poetry, the Champagne riots of 1911, the American Founding Fathers and wine, Rabelais and wine, harvest festivals); an artistic or architectural piece, Palette or Vitruvius (Van Gogh’s Red Vineyard, Caravaggio’s Sick Bacchus, Wine in Dutch Golden Age Still Lifes, winery architecture in different parts of the world); and Vintage (where we take a famous vintage and wine, and then discuss what was happening in other areas of the arts in that year). We also have regular features on food and travel: Room Temperature (looking at the best fine wine restaurants in major cities and wine regions worldwide, including London, New York, Hong Kong, and Singapore, Alsace, Burgundy, Champagne, and Piedmont); Matchmaker (where a respected chef or sommelier discusses a particular food or wine and the best matches); and Vin Voyage (where a resident of a particular wine region describes how best to explore it).
The authors are as authoritative as we can find anywhere in the world, and unusually we will commission work in a language other than English then have it professionally translated. Where we depart from wine (to look at culture or history, art, literature or philosophy) then we get leading academics or experts in the field. The style is scholarly but not academic, serious but not stuffy. The articles assume a certain level of wine knowledge, and will certainly be of interest to professionals, but are also accessible by any intelligent and interested lover of wine anywhere in the world. The magazine certainly offers advice on buying wine, but also provides stimulating reading for those who are looking to learn more about the astonishingly rich traditions that have surrounded wine for millennia.
We try to make sure that the magazine looks the part, that it is attractive to read and produced to a high standard. We know that subscribers keep the magazines for reference, and often have them bound. But it is far from being a “coffee-table” book – there are up to 150,000 words in each quarterly issue – and it is a “lifestyle” magazine only in the sense that (as Randall Grahm said in issue 2), “wine must be lived with”.
I absolutely adore your publication, and would be honored to contribute to it in any way.
Congratulations on the wonderful magazine; it is certainly the most literate wine magazine out there. Keep up your high standards.
The World of Fine Wine is a different sort of wine journal. Which other magazine would dare to treat intoxication, synaesthesia, linguistic muddle, arrested fermentation, Champagne riots, Rabelais’s laughter, van Gogh’s madness, and gout?
Thanks for Jamie Goode’s informative and stimulating articles in the latest issue of The World of Fine Wine. Through articles such as these you are performing a great service for the vast majority of us wine merchants, wine writers and consumers who lack the time and the scientific background to peruse a literature that is in fact of great significance to our activities.
An upmarket, quite expensive but admirably serious bi-monthly glossy magazine about top-quality wine.
I think this is a first rate new wine magazine, and I enjoy reading it enormously. It combines authoritative, stimulating writing on wine and related cultural issues (art, music, gastronomy, history...) with production and illustrations of a very high order. At the price of a bottle of modest premium wine per issue, it represents excellent value - both as a long–term reference and a long term pleasure.
In the world of wine communication, far too many newspapers and specialist reviews struggle to maintain their independence of the advertisers who make them viable. This makes it necessary to underline the highest editorial standards of The World of Fine Wine. As well as offering complete freedom of expression and opinion to the prestigious writers whose services they secure, the editors manage to strike a remarkable balance of coverage on the many different subjects they treat, in a completely impartial spirit. Certainly they limit themselves to fine wines and great terroirs, to the altogether exceptional. But it is precisely this that the real wine lover seeks: a unique approach to the mystery of wine, where the detail and relevance of background knowledge informs the culture, the dreams and the myths. If one had to describe this sumptuous review in one word, it would be: indispensable.
The best way to explain fine wine and to protect it from the lobbies (so strong in my country) aiming to convince people it is a devil drink, is to insist on its cultural values and to my knowledge no other magazine on wine I know is doing it as well as The World of Fine Wine. I hope that many more wine growers or wine lovers will support such an unrivalled fighter!
More than a wine magazine. It covers a huge range of interest and is certainly more intellectual than any other wine and food magazine I have read.
The World of Fine Wine takes wine journalism in a new, more sophisticated direction. It is not a consumer magazine, but the first cultural journal of the wine world. It acknowledges that wine-lovers have other interests, too, and the same high standards in whatever they do. The first 12 issues have been a remarkable demonstration of new possibilities. I know I don't want to read the same old marketing jargon ever again.
What I admire the most about The World of Fine Wine magazine are the different, detailed and often quirky articles – written by an impressive pool of varied and respected writers. Deliberately non-mainstream and specialised (not elitist!), it delves deeper and wider, yet with awareness, sensitivity. A high hit-rate of fully-read articles, and a ‘when’s the next one going to arrive’ expectation surely imply impact, satisfaction & relevance!!! More please!
This is a really beautiful wine magazine, completely different to anything ever done before. The quality of the writing and the design and layout of the pages are all exceptional. The World of Fine Wine complements the world's great wines perfectly, looking at the wines in great detail, as well as exploring related subjects that make fascinating reading. I feel that each edition will be kept by most readers, it is not a magazine to discard.
In a world where wine is so often reduced to clipped phrases, scores and sound bites, The World of Fine Wine magazine puts wine in the widest cultural context and, above all, makes a refreshingly good read.
Unsolicited comments on the bulletin board of the Robert Parker website:
For those with more disposable income, I would strongly recommend it as it's the finest wine mag I've ever seen.
It is a lovely magazine, both visually and in content. I believe the depth with which wine issues are covered makes it unlike anything out there. For the serious wine geek, this magazine is nirvana.
It is an excellent magazine, very erudite articles (they even do footnotes!). I would not hesitate to recommend subscribing.
It is easily the classiest wine publication out there – indeed probably the nicest magazine I have ever seen of any kind – and the writing is extremely high quality.