The Quarterly Review of Wines has ceased publication after 35 years – because, its publisher said, there is no longer any romance in wine.
There were many reasons for closing Quarterly Review of Wines, Richard L Elia said on QRW.com, but chief among them was that ‘passion is spent’.
In a 1200-word obituary for a vanishing world, Elia blames everything from restaurant music and wine toys, to corporate wine and the 100-point scale for the demise of the Winchester, Massachusetts journal.
‘Beyond the usual explanations — upcoming retirements, the magazine world is in perilous shape, advertising is down, the digital age is king, out-of-state wine delivery problems — what initially attracted us to wine was the romance of it,’ Elia writes.
But, he said, ‘Today, wine is often dominated by marketing and finance people, who measure their interest by numbers.’
Wine, he laments, is no longer made by purple-handed champions of the vineyard, but ‘corporately owned wineries — some of whom are new entrepreneurs or investors playing wine barons — offer[ing] intimations that wine is made in the marketplace. Now Numbers make the wine.’
Not only that, but ‘nothing has contributed to wine’s romantic deterioration more than restaurant music… Looking for a romantic table with a bottle of wine, a bit of candle light, quiet conversation, and a little culinary euphoria?’ You won’t find it in America.’
Then, he warns, ‘there is the matter of wine toys…Wine aerators, electric corkscrews, redneck wine glasses, plastic beaded wine covers, and leopard skin wine bags are just some of the frivolous kitsch, which, like it or not, have become a way of American wine life.’
Finally, the publisher makes clear, the end of the QRW is the modern world’s loss.
‘While something has been lost in the present, QRW thrived in the past, reveling in some of wine’s best history. It isn’t sentimental to think that this often soulless industry could use a resurgence of romance, which encompasses civility and speaks sincerely to the quality of life it provides. Too often, wine is handled by people who have little feeling for it. So we left it.’
Brian St Pierre, wine and food writer and former PR director of the California Wine Institute told Decanter.com he considered QRW ‘a splendid enterprise.’
‘I always thought of it as the “Quality Review of Wine”. It persistently fought the good fight, of preserving the passion and love of wine, with civility. It seems to be going more from battle fatigue than that the crass bad guys are winning, but they leave the field with honour intact (and the fight goes on, I hope).’
QRW had published continuously since 1977, maintained a circulaton of 150,000, and had many admirers, including Haut Brion owner Prince Robert of Luxembourg, who considered it ‘one of America’s greatest wine magazines’, and Michael Broadbent.
Written by Adam Lechmere