And that’s ALL it is to many people.
But once in a while it stops being ‘just’ an alcoholic beverage. You taste a wine that gives you more pleasure than you ever imagined you could find in a glass. Or you visit the place where the grapes grow, meet the people who make the wine, feel their passion, experience their way of life. And suddenly wine becomes sexy.
But most wine writing is not sexy.
At one end, there’s a lot of off-putting pontificating about things like ‘malo’ and ‘brett’ and ‘hints of minerality’. At the other end, there’s a dumbing-down which reduces wine writing to scores and shopping lists, where words like ‘bouquet’ and ‘palate’ and even ‘tannins’ are actually banned in tasting notes.
The latter attempts to bring the ‘fun’ back into wine communication, but in a way it’s worse than the wine-bore talk, because it pretends that these legitimate wine words don’t matter.
They do matter; they just need to be explained properly. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, this ‘fun’ approach doesn’t merely perpetuate the MYTH that wine is an elitist drink, it makes it a REALITY!
Just as wine should bring people together not set them apart, wine writing should be accessible and entertaining, no matter whether readers are connoisseurs or just starting out.
That’s what I aim to achieve through this website.
ABOUT JOANNE GIBSON
Many years ago, I got my first job at a community newspaper in Johannesburg, writing about local politics. Fortunately the editor took pity on me now and again, sending me off to cover a play, or a book launch, or a cash-in-transit heist. You know, for light relief.
One evening it was the Gauteng launch of a new winery called Springfield. It took place at the Balalaika Hotel. There was lots of wine, and lots of talk about wine. I was hooked.
In the week-ending 8 December 1995 issue of the Sandton Chronicle, I vowed ‘to watch the wines growing on rocky Springfield soils one day’. Four months later I was living in the Cape.
It was the start of a wine journey that took me via London (as editor of a publication called Drinks Bulletin; then feature writer at Harpers Wine & Spirit magazine) to many of the world’s wine regions, including Australia, Bulgaria, California, Canada, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal and Spain.
(Funny. They didn’t send me to South Africa. Perhaps they suspected that I’d be biased. I probably would have been.)
I returned home to Cape Town in 2004 armed with a Diploma from the UK’s Wine & Spirit Education Trust (next step Master of Wine?). I quickly got a job as deputy editor of Good Taste magazine, only to be approached to join Wine magazine a few months later.
Then came babies (a boy then a girl, now aged 6 and 3 respectively) and, along with pregnancy and breastfeeding, a strange intolerance of tannins (happily temporary).
Named inaugural winner of the South African Wine Writer of the Year Awards in 2009 (and runner-up in 2011), I’ve freelanced for several local publications including Wine, Horizons, WineStyle, Classic Wine, Food & Home Entertaining, Good Taste, The Sunday Times, and the annual Platter’s guide.
Overseas magazines nice enough to publish my work since I returned to SA have included Decanter, The Drinks Business, Harpers, Off Licence News, Square Meal, Wine & Spirit, The World of Fine Wine, Czas Wina and Gilbert & Gaillard.
I’ve also written a number of in-depth features for the US quarterly magazine of Wines of South Africa (WOSA), and over the past few years have been WOSA’s South African accommodation judge in the Great Wine Capitals Best of Wine Tourism Awards.
And I’ve just started work on a wine-related book.