The Cynic’s Guide To Wine Publications


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[ Editor’s note: This is an April Fool’s Day post. It is intentionally cynical, acerbic, and satirical to the extreme. I do NOT actually feel this way about these publications. I have plenty of friends who work for these publications (all of which, I sincerely hope, take this in the humorous way it’s intended and remain my friends after today. ]

Does the panoply of wine magazine offerings confuse you? Do you hate when wine writers use terms like panoply? Do you need someone to tell you what you should think about wine without putting in your own effort, but don’t know where to start?

Fear not, because this guide to the world’s wine publications is here for you! Stop thinking, start reading, and start drinking (what you’re told to drink)!

Wine Spectator

Spectator is the Donald J. Trump of wine mags. You’ll think “man, this is soooo douchey… doesn’t everybody see through how douchey this is? Wait, it’s really popular?? What the actual f*ck?!??” This mainstay of the Baby Boomer generation will remain powerfully influential, staying that way just as long as its main set of subscribers stays alive (the clock is ticking). Eventually, when those Boomer subscribers die off (assuming the planet is still habitable), any younger Spectator subscribers will just cancel their subscriptions, and then deny that they ever liked it in the first place.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate

Advocate is kind of like the Joe Biden of wine mags. If zombie movies were a wine magazine, Advocate would be it. Arguably the first independent wine publication, this uber-influential resource has been riding the long coattails of its founder’s 1980s-era accomplishments for the last several decades. I’m convinced that, when Parker eventually shuffles off this mortal coil, the rest of their staff will continue to cart him out, Weekend at Bernie’s style to his seemingly lucrative speaking and tasting gigs in Asia, where he probably says very little and just waves at his adoring fanboys anyway. Actually, maybe that’s already happened?

World of Fine Wine

Are you generationally wealthy? Do you find the quaint customs and plucky activities of the starving commoners (as viewed from your yacht of the coast of the Maldives) absolutely charming? Do you wear a monocle? Good news, old chap, I’ve got just the wine magazine for you! I’ll be honest, I’ve never actually read this mag, because I can’t afford to subscribe to it and also pay my mortgage.


Punch is technically not a wine mag, since it’s only online. But technically that doesn’t matter, because technically, Punch is way too cool for you. You will never be admitted into Punch‘s inner circle of secretly depressed, anxiety-ridden, self-loathing cognoscenti. NEVER. Stop trying, because you look pathetic. This is getting embarrassing, just stop it. [blocks your phone number]


Did you know that wine is a serious business? Fine wine even more so! Vinous is here to remind you that all aspects of wine are serious. Very, very, DEADLY serious. In fact, you should be genuflecting before you open each issue of Vinous. It must be read in absolute silence and with every ounce of your rapt attention. Ignore the needs of your children and your own personal hygiene if necessary. You should at the very least take their articles half as seriously as the Vinous staff take themselves, because god knows that you could never write as well as they could (just ask them!).

Wine Enthusiast

Enthusiast started as a wine catalog business, flirted with being a viable wine magazine in the 1990s and 2000s, and now publishes “articles” about seltzers and fruit-flavored beers, some of which are by staff “writers” and most of which are likely just generated by AI bots. To save yourself some time, instead of reading the scores they give wines in each issue of this “magazine,” just flip through it quickly and jot down the names of the the wines on the largest ad pages—they probably paid to get the best numbers from Enthusiast‘s “critics” anyway.

The Wine Independent

Sorry, have we met? No, I don’t recognize you. I think you must have me confused with someone else. Please leave now, you’re making me uncomfortable. This recent entry into the wine mag fray has made about as much of a splash as a pebble hitting the Atlantic. The good news for them? By the time the glacially-slow-moving wine business figures that out, their staff will have had access to enough top-shelf Bordeaux and Burgundy to sate their self-importance fantasies. Did you know that this one was started by a Master of Wine who once worked for Advocate? You don’t care? Apparently, neither does the wine business…

Wine & Spirits

Poor, poor Wine & Spirits. This is, without doubt, the troubled middle child of wine magazines, clearly more talented and smarter than its older siblings like Advocate and Spectator, but not taken anywhere near as seriously. It’s wittier and more cerebral than its younger siblings Punch (who secretly wishes it could be W&S) and Independent (who often forgets that W&S even exists), but still gets basically zero attention. And yet, as smart as the W&S folks are, they’ve somehow not managed to pull themselves out of their own little “no one loves meeeeeee” quagmire, so it’s difficult to feel too sorry for them.


Decanter is absolute magic, and by that I mean it’s adept at the illusion that it’s actually a serious wine magazine. If Decanter actually put as much time, money, and effort into its staff and editing its content as it does fluffing up its facade as a real player in the wine mag scene, it might actually be good. I imagine that they never, ever talk about doing that behind the scenes, however, as that would surely upset the delicate British sensibilities of its founders. Now be a good boy and go fetch my claret, will you?


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