Malcolm Gluck, the champion of supermarket wine, is leaving the Guardian after 15 years.
Gluck, who has never wavered in his opinion that good value does not mean expensive, has built up an empire around his Superplonk brand, which consists of his Guardian column, several bestselling books and a website.
‘A Superplonk is not necessarily a cheap wine,’ he has written. ‘A £1.99 wine that is mediocre is a waste of money and definitely not a Superplonk. A £10.99 wine, which is marvellous and better value than many wines costing two or three times more, is very definitely a Superplonk.’
His often-abrasive style has led to many exhilarating spats with fellow wine writers – the latest being a long-running and forthright correspondence with Observer critic Tim Atkin MW in the pages of trade weekly Harpers, and the Off-Licence News.
Both have defended their respective stances on scoring wines entertainingly and aggressively.
In one column Gluck wrote about a meeting with his colleague, ‘Tim Atkin, surely the most handsome wine writer of us all, makes the usual joke about me preferring plonk and points out that I am unshaven (I had forgotten). I don’t embrace him for fear I shall trouble his svelte flesh.’
Whether the split with the Guardian is mutual or not is a moot point. Gluck maintains he has three book contracts to uphold and wants to pursue his interest in photography and to move beyond pure wine criticism.
‘I want to do something radically different,’ he told decanter.com. ‘Superplonk will continue to exist – it’s the only successful brand created by a wine writer – but it will be in a different forum.’
He added that leaving the Guardian has not been ‘entirely my own choice. We discussed it in a robust but very friendly way.’
Hinting that the Guardian will be making fundamental changes to its approach to wiine criticism, he said a (female) successor to his column had already been appointed. His last Superplonk column will appear on December 11.
‘I’m not happy to leave,’ he said. ‘It was a huge decision which I feel very sad about.’
Gluck will continue to write his column in Harpers – and, he says, he hopes to continue his battle of words with Atkin.
‘I can’t remember who started it, but it’s good fun to cross swords with Tim. I’ll certainly be developing that argument.’
Written by Adam Lechmere