A New Era of Wine Elitism at WSJ?

As many of you out there may already know, the Wall Street Journal has two new writers heading up its long-standing wine column: Food & Wine magazine alumnus Lettie Teague, and “Bright Lights, Big City” author Jay McInerney.

They replace John Brecher and Dorothy Gaiter, who often championed the budding wine enthusiast and offered budget recommendations in an accessible way, avoiding the lofty wine speak that is often taken to be patronizing and condescending by newbie wine lovers.

My, how times are a-changin’!
de, Jay McInerney, Wall Street Journal Wine
The revamped WSJ wine column debuted this week, and in it Jay McInerney offers up wine recommendations that range from $60 to nearly $400 per bottle, and compares them to Julianne Moore and Charlize Theron.

Not exactly wine for the populace; more like wine for the court of kings.

Reaction to the piece has been (predictably) mixed, with many citing as off-putting an elitist tone from Jay that contrasts dramatically with the tone of the column when authored by Brecher and Gaiter.

My take on all of this? WSJ might have bitten off more than it might be able to chew. To understand this, one needs to understand Jay McInerney’s writing.

I know a couple of people who have met McInerney at invitation-only wine tasting events; according to those sources, McInerney is not afraid to get visibly tipsy at those events and is given to describing himself as not knowing much about wine.

Having read much of McInerney’s wine-related writings, I’d disagree with him that he doesn’t know much about wine: he is “well-tasted” and those experiences will certainly give him the opportunity to learn more than the average wine lover.

And he certainly can write – of that there can be little argument, in my opinion.

But whether or not his writings and style will resonate positively with WSJ readers is another story entirely. Certainly his pricey recommendations are off to a bit of a rocky – though now very visible – start.


Joe Roberts is a Certified Specialist of Wine and author of the award-winning wine blog.

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