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Wine International: radical change

UK wine magazine Wine International will cease to exist in its present format and will become a title aimed both at trade and consumer readers in the wine, spirits and beer market.

The new magazine, Wine & Spirit, will be an amalgamation of Wine International and its sister publication Wine and Spirit International, and will launch in February next year. Wine International was bought by William Reed publishing in September this year. Another sister title, Drinks International, will remain unchanged.

Wine & Spirit will be edited by Graham Holter, currently editor of William Reed title Off Licence News, who told decanter.com, ‘we will be taking some elements and resources of Wine International and Wine and Spirit International and creating a new magazine.’

The roles of Charles Metcalfe and Robert Joseph, the figureheads of Wine International, are still under discussion, as are their roles on the International Wine Challenge.

Metcalfe and Joseph set up the then What Wine? – which became Wine, then Wine International – in 1983, and the successful International Wine Challenge a year later.

Holter said they would no longer be associate editor and publishing editor but there would definitely be ‘a relationship’ for them in the new magazine.

Metcalfe said, ‘I am looking forward to discussing it with Graham. They have told me they will be happy for me to write for them if Graham wants me to.’

Joseph said they would have ‘lots of input’ but ‘wouldn’t formally be on the imprint’.

The fate of the International Wine Challenge itself is also under discussion. It seems likely that it will become part of a ‘Challenge package’ made up of the International Spirit Challenge and the re-branded International Beer Challenge, run by William Reed’s events division.

What is certain is that the magazine is to undergo a radical transformation and will be almost unrecognisable when it appears in its new form.

‘It will have strong consumer appeal but will also be required reading for anyone with a career in wines, spirits and beer,’ the company said in a press release.

The focus of the new magazine will move away from the high-end fine wine buyer and – while seeking to retain that segment of its readership – it will seek to attract younger readers interested in spirits and beers as well as wine.

Holter remains tight-lipped as to how much current readers of Wine International would recognise in the new magazine. He said, ‘A lot of the same information will be there but it will be packaged differently. While we don’t want to alienate fine wine buyers we also feel we can address their interests without giving them acres of en primeur coverage.’

As to tone, Robert Joseph was in no doubt. ‘It will be lively and controversial – more so than it has been as Wine International.’

Wine & Spirit will be ‘UK-facing’, the company said. ‘We are going very definitely for a UK audience,’ Holter added. ‘We won’t be having sections for readers around the world on how the trade is looking in their countries.’

He was at pains to stress Wine & Spirit will not be a ‘cheap-looking trade mag’. While format was still being discussed he said it would have high production values and would take on elements of its new sister titles Restaurant, and the high-end bar-trade magazine Class.

Current editor Catharine Lowe, who has just returned from maternity leave, will take on a consulting role.

Whether it would be more biassed towards trade or consumers remains opaque. The company said, ‘We’re not thinking of it as either a trade magazine or a consumer magazine – it will inform, entertain and stimulate readers with any level of interest in wine, spirits and beers.’

Written by Adam Lechmere

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