Now that wine consumption has gained more generational acceptance among Baby Boomers, Generation X’ers and Generation Y’ers according to a 2009 Wine Market Council study, savvier, more inquisitive consumers will likely be drawn to expanding their knowledge of the beverage as its popularity grows.
A Google search on “wine education” yields non-virtual results like classes held in conjunction with tastings and festivals, culinary courses, and seminars offered through various wineries. That’s in addition to the vast amount of information stored on the Internet.
Other introductions into the intimidating subject of wine come in the form of Food & Wine magazine and Wine Spectator magazine, both knowledgeable sources with different approaches to suit varying interests.
As its title suggests, Food & Wine gives ample attention to food and wine and their relationship to each other, while Wine Spectator offers more thorough insight into wine only. Casual drinkers would be satisfied with the array of recipes and information found in Food and Wine, but they would be disappointed if they were to expect the same from Wine Spectator.
That’s because Wine Spectator magazine’s content is deep, rich and full-bodied–perhaps even a little intimidating for those with only a leisurely interest in the fruit of the vine. But for the oenophile, however, who feasts on wine and all things related, it is a robust read.
The March 31, 2010, issue, for example, plucked an extensive feature from California’s Rhône wine-producing district, specifically focusing on its prized Syrah deep red grape and the often hard-to-find wines it yields.
Another article detailed two Napa Valley Cabernet producers’ construction of eco-friendly wineries that utilize Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building standards, with a sidebar on other similar projects.
Aside from this more accessible general interest content, online reviewers criticize Wine Spectator magazine for showcasing a glitzy, high-end, sometimes unattainable lifestyle, while others appreciate living the good life vicariously through its oversized pages.
But Wine Spectator magazine’s 100-point wine rating guide by far generates the most controversy. “The Number” a wine receives can sometimes determine if it will be mildly popular or a runaway success, and some critics say the rating implies an incapable precision of human senses.
Online reviewers echoed similar sentiments, cautioning readers to understand their own tastes before being swayed by Wine Spectator magazine’s often outlandish claims (“Best Red of the Century”) or the high marks it might bestow.
Despite its affluent tone, Wine Spectator’s recommendations are surprisingly not all too pricey, with many in the $20-and-under-per-bottle range.
Still, casual consumers will find a more accessible introduction to wine and food pairings in Food & Wine magazine over Wine Spectator’s cerebral approach to wine alone, which is often delivered in the context of a lifestyle most can only enjoy from the outside looking in.