Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm Quitting You

Dear Food & Wine Magazine,

You suck.

Samantha Dugan

Truth is I have been bitching and moaning about this particular publication for a couple of years now, I think it was about the time I got one of their yearend issues and over half of it was advertisements or even worse, the “special advertisements” which is basically an add that pretends not to be. Fucking annoying as hell. I will say that I do find the recipes in Food & Wine some of the easiest to execute and for that reason alone I’ve not figured out how to get my goddamn American Express to quit renewing my subscription but I think after this latest craptastic issue I am going to have to call it quits.

The wine articles in this glossy rag that proudly boasts wine as half its name are simply dreadful, always have been. They used to just be boring and redundant…I mean whole articles dedicated to steakhouse wine lists…lemme guess, big reds? What the hot new sommeliers are favoring in place of Gruner these days and endless articles about what wines to bring to all those swanky dinner parties or (a personal favorite) perfume and wine, as in “this Barolo reminds me of Channel” or whatever. Trite and never all that informative, that was the way I saw most of the wine articles in Food & Wine, (all one or two in each issue), before but the utter pile of crap that landed in my mailbox this month had me not only saying aloud, “Oh shut up” but slapping the slippery pages of stupid down on the smashed beige carpet of my living room floor.

Anyone that reads much about wine these days is hearing an awful lot about Syrah. Now if you are a light reader or skimmer you might believe that Syrah is the hottest thing going right now….the flavor of the month if you will but for those of us in the industry…or uber wine freaks we all know that the current cheerleading about Syrah is a industry wide push to put some energy behind a group of wines that just aint selling. There is some serious mouth to mouth going on and I will spare you rehashing of why these wines aren’t moving. Steve Heimoff, Eric Asimov, Charlie Olken and many others have already had the conversation and they are far better, not to mention way more important voices than mine…that and an opinion about why, changes absolutely nothing about the situation. Dead. The sales for Syrah are dead or dying and marketing gurus, winery reps and the press are doing all they can to resuscitate. I’m not against that per se but when a leading food and wine publication tells the unsuspecting public that they should drink Syrah with their Thanksgiving meal?! Well that’s going too far in my book and in the end it is just robbing from Peter to pay Paul. You really think offering a shitty pairing will inspire people to drink and crave Syrah? You truly expect people to wash down turkey, gravy, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce with Smoking Loon Syrah? Might these folks that came to you for pairing advice take a sip of that wine…with that food and come to the conclusion that either they don’t get it or worse, they simply don’t like wine? Yeah, that should fix things…jackholes.

Okay so I’m willing to admit that not everyone gets as hung up about pairings as I do, I get that and might even be willing to say that’s fine, (begrudgingly) might be able to overlook this dreadful combination they are pushing but…holy mother of all stupidity, the writing in this hunk of advertisements is bloody awful. Jesus, I avoid most wine blogs because I can’t choke through the clunky, sophomoric, snooze inducing, makes-me-want-as-much-as-a-eunuch-does sludge and now this publication…that I pay for goddamn it, is making me feel like an asshole just for having it come to my home in my name. As a wine professional I’m horrified that this is what we as a group are tossing about. Really insulting and honestly shit like this here does more to hurt our business than grow it.

Okay I am gonna try and ignore the little drawing of the “writer” that penned this hunk of garbage, the one with a megaphone drawn by his face that says, (no lie) “Rah rah Syrah”…sigh. I will instead stick to the profoundly stupid and slightly ironic might I add, premise of this steaming piece on Why You Should Drink Syrah on Thanksgiving…

1- People Who Buy Syrah Are Independent & Smart
I shit you not, that was number one on the list! What the hell? What are you even talking about? Can we flip that fucking megaphone over and make you wear it as a dunce cap? You are advising people on what to drink and the number one reason you give them to drink the wrong wine with their meal is because they are “independent and smart”?! You sir are an ass.

2- Cool Climate Syrahs Are Exceptionally Food Friendly
Have no problem with this…well other than this, “High end sommeliers tend to put down American Syrah in particular, dismissing it as bulky, ponderous, alcoholic and sweet. But cooler climate regions in California and Washington make streamlined, evocative, spicy, aromatic, food friendly Syrahs.” Um, what are the WalMart sommeliers saying? Just wondering if the low end guys know a little something about…the northern freaking Rhone, you know the place this “rah rah” grape comes from. Are the 7-11 sommeliers offering a reason as to why one might pair Syrah with Thanksgiving…because so far you haven’t…just sayin’

3- Syrah Is One Of The Safest Bets Around
This is where this idiot goes on to say that finding a Pinot Noir under $20.00 is like finding a “diamond in your gravel driveway” and finding a delicious under $20.00 Syrah is like finding diamonds in a diamond mine. Okay not only are you “deficient” you are a liar AND um, dude….are Pinot and Syrah the only two varieties we have? What the hell happened to; Zinfandel, Gamay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Barbera, Dolcetto…oh and God forbid we talk about white wine….so for beginners and chicks that. Blow me.

That’s it. I wish I could tell you there was something more. Some insight as to why this article was written and someone felt it was fit for print but there you have it. You should drink Syrah with your laboriously cared for meal because…it makes you smart or independent or Pinot is expensive. I swear I just lost brain cells reading this hunk of crap and as I wine professional, a wine lover and someone that aches to have everyone have that little light go off…have their switch flipped, I just have to say….I’m sorry. I’m sorry this was what Food & Wine thought of you and I for one am yanking my pennies from their pocket for their flippant disregard for teaching people anything about wine.

I am calling in the morning and ending my ten year subscription to Food & Wine magazine and the only regret I have is that I didn’t do it sooner. I would like to thank whoever let this particular article fly…you kicked me in my waffling ass. I’m tired of rolling my eyes and cringing at what is basically a finger to the average consumer and as a result…our industry. Bullshit is bullshit and no matter how trained the palate this was a hunk of marketing garbage that wont salvage Syrah, in fact you may have just hammered another nail in the coffin. Write an article on how sexy and alluring these wines can be and I would freaking write you a love letter but peddling lies and bad pairings is just insulting and disingenuous. I’m out….


Michael Hughes said...

Awesome. Truly awesome. I love your "RAWR"! I felt the exact same way but you my dear nailed it. The whole "high end sommelier" just really annoyed me. Thats what we need a further separation of the classes, that will get people drinking wine who don't quite feel comfortable with it. So lame. The whole cool climate bit also is misleading. Where's the definition? In Washington's "cool climate" it can get up to 90+ degrees during the day. What makes it a great place for producing great wine is the drastic drop in temperature during the evening. There lies the "cool" part. Granted, what is the point of actually being informative right? Uggh, & the ads are out of control just as you said.

JW said...

Love it! I'm ashamed to say I still get Food & Wine much for the same reasons you do. It shows up in the mail and I think "Shit, I haven't cancelled that yet?". Appalling rag that it has become. I thought maybe with Lettie gone the wine articles would get better.

Thomas said...


My sentiments exactly. Dropped the thing years ago, among most other "lifestyle" mags, which is what you have to remember: they are neither wine nor food mags.

These things exist to appeal to the aspirations of others. It's part of the continuum that got Americans into major debt and out of brains.

Richard said...

I have never subscribed to that rag and have done a little reading of it from other people's coffee tables. I've always hated Food and Wine, and for the very reason that you rant about. They don't really know shit about wine. I'm not convinced they have food down either.

Thank you for preaching to the choir. Cheers!

John M. Kelly said...

Sam - You GO! It's bad enough in my book that people need to be told what to like, but to be given just bad information and then reassured that if they follow that bad advice they are "independent and smart" is beyond moronic. It is insulting to the reader.

F&W is a classic case of print in trouble - both as a symptom and a cause. Their expectations of profit are so out of line with reality that they have to sell half the pages as ads, but they won't pay for someone who knows fuck all about wine to write for them.

webb said...

I never liked F & W either, but it's because I don't understand a word they say. Makes me feel independent and smart to know that someone who understands agrees with me - albeit for different reasons. I do like some of the recipes, but we are not renewing either.

So, what are YOU having with your turkey anyway?

Samantha Dugan said...

What crank-yankers right? Obviously this issue just sent me over the top and I just know so poor customer is going to come in with this article looking for wine to have for Thanksgiving...and they will believe the glossy "press" over a store of people that are truly interested in giving them the best possible wine experience...pisses me off.

Welcome kid and thanks for posting. We can do this together you and I....quit this horrible habit of stupidity. You in?!

Well consider yourself lucky...and far smarter than I, for not enduring years of boring and now what appears to more with a dash of dumb. (grumble)

Yeah I know, should have dumped it years ago but I am on the road to wellness now!

I know right? So freaking insulting and not doing the least bit of good as far as creating more passionate wine drinkers...what fuckers.

I usually have Cru Beaujolais and this year I will be drinking Lapierre Morgon in honor of Marcel Lapierre who sadly passed away this month. I've loved his Beaujolais above all others before and have always found that the sexy meatiness and smoke pairs perfectly with my meal. For white I am drinking Roland Schmitt Riesling, a lovely drier style wine from Alsace. Amazingly complex aromatics and super snappy acidity.

Thomas said...


If you look closely and carefully at who gets columns in national newspapers and who gets articles in national magazines, you'll often find that it is the buzz generated not the knowledge that counts.

You'll also find that those who edit and hire writers, don't often have and don't often need (by magazine and newspaper standards) the knowledge required to decide who knows what he or she is talking about and who doesn't for any particular subject.

We have built a print culture that's a hybrid of People and Enquirer!

Ron Washam said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Hey, I used to be a "high end sommelier," and I love Syrah, though I prefer to use its Gangsta name Sheeraz (Fershizzle!). AND I was a high end sommelier at a steakhouse! Which is pretty much like being a vestigial organ, like Rand Paul.

It says a lot about our world that Gourmet is dead and buried (though, like Jesus, it may be miraculously resurrected and deliver us all from evil) but Food and Wine lives on. And, frankly, it ain't easy to get worse wine coverage after losing Lettie Teague, but Isle be damned if they didn't manage. It's the magazine for wine lovers to turn to when BevMo gets just too confusing!

Hey, I thought cool climate syrah meant it came from Berkeley. I'll let Puff Daddy-O comment on that. (What the hell am I talking about?)

And, frankly, when you get going on one of your rants, My Love, I get hot. My juices run like saliva from those drooling idiots at F & W. Yeah, I know, kinda sick. And you got me so wound up that I decided to cancel my subscription to Food and Wine too--only I remembered I never subscribed to Food and Wine. So I'm canceling my subscription to O Magazine instead (which I thought was about the Big O, not the big fat O).

I love you!

John M. Kelly said...

Thomas it's hardly confined to print culture. We've gone from smart guys like William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal to f**k-nuts like Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann. The value of an idea these days is measured solely in eyeballs and ad revenues. Shame on US.

The last red wine I served with Thanksgiving was 5-6 years ago and it was a Lapierre Morgon. These days I will sip on Beaujolais nouveau while I'm cooking, but with dinner I tend to serve pinkish sparkling things and whites from Alsace (occasionally Germany, Finger Lakes or Washington state).

Samantha Dugan said...

Ron My Love,
Only you...only you can have me in tears with giggles, gasping about vestigial organs and blushing all at the same time. You should see this Baby, the look on my face is something between my Zin face and my Big O face. I love you too and...damn do I miss you!

Charlie Olken said...

So I was just wandering around the Internet having come up for a breath of fresh air after 96 hours submerged in my November issue, and I start checking in with the blogs I read regularly.

Truth be told, Sam, you are not at the head of the list--not because I don't admire the hell out of your blog but because I found Heimoff, Yarrow, Wark, Dude1 and Jose first.

So here is what happened. I go to Heimoff and no one has posted on his blog today except a couple of loudmouths of which I am one. So then I go to Alder's blog and he has been averaging one comment per day for over two weeks. Wark is doing a little better than that, but I found myself wondering if the blogosphere had finally had enough of itself.

And then I stopped in here. Not only do I get treated to some really smart writing, and aren't you glad to know since you are smart, you can now buy Syrah.

This was a rant of the first order. Original, tough, and spot on. And, it was so good that it dragged Jose off his stool and back into public for a moment or two of the most slashing humor in the winosphere.

Good on ya, Sam. You continue to be the writer I want to be when I grow up.

Sara Louise said...

I LOVE this rant! It was perfectly ranty without going over the top.

Those guys are idiots. I'm not a wine expert by any means (far far from it) but even I would know never to serve Syrah with traditional Thanksgiving food! And what's that about interesting and smart people drink Syrah? I can't even believe an Editor let that one go.

(and 'special advertisement' sections in magazines make me want to pull my hair out... you're not fooling anyone!)

Samantha Dugan said...

Charlie Love,
So I get nekkid in front of you over and over again I still don't rank in the top 3...crushing. That right there is crushing, but I am glad you stopped in to see me. The praise you bestow upon me is far too great and I am, as always humbled by your sweet admiration of this wacky voice of mine. I'd like to think that I had some magical way of coaxing Ron/Jose from his little hideaway...I often picture myself in a dance of the 7 veils kinda deal, pealing away each layer and pulling him in with each tiny word that might feel like a finger on his chin, drawing him in, petting...purring but truth be told he shows when he wants to or is moved to and I am just thrilled as hell when he turns up, honored actually.

I've noticed too that my comment count seems to be higher than the average and holy crap is this girl floored and enormously grateful. I've said it before and I shall say it again, not sure what I did to deserve all of this but....feels fucking incredible.

Dude it was a horrid issue amongst years of other boring issues. Fail. They fail and I for one am tired of paying for their condescension. Wont be doing that again.....

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Thomas said...

Nah, I went to saveabreakup,com and all they told me to do was to apologize. That's stupid. That's like getting lost on the road and turning back--always go forward...

John, I'll still go with a Zinfandel at Thanksgiving every so often, but generally, it's been Riesling these days.

Charlie, I've noticed the paucity of comments on blogs and I think it might have something to do with saturation. In fact, I've cut down considerably on which blogs I read and my comments are only when it is a subject of interest to me.

Good to see Ron commenting here. Just that last O sentence had me laughing out loud, or, as they say on the spaceternet, LOL.

Thomas said...

Oh, I forgot to mention to John.

Glenn Beck is only a replacement for John Birch, or an extension.

These people have always been around--they just have more forum and more money these days because there are more idiots who vote and donate against their own interests.

Charlie Olken said...

Sam, the list of blogs I read is set up in chronological based on when I first bookmarked them.

The problem is that I keep finding them, and there are so many smart blogs like wine-life.co.uk that simply fly below the radar.

You have definitely become center of the screen these days.

k2 said...

Here here Sam. I gave up on F&W a long time ago. Have too many mags and blogs to take its place in my mind. And the whole business with Syrah - while I love the stuff, it is the number 1 dust collector in my stores. How I actually started getting people to pay attention to the grape was to mix it in with the red blends! And while that has helped, it is nominal at best. I can't help but think that this massive "awareness" push with Syrah isn't some half-assed penance-laden guilt trip for all those responsible for the ludicrous success of Yellow Tail.

Jason Phelps said...


This is my first read of your blog, having jumped over from the HoseMaster, and I can't believe I found two of the funniest blogs I have ever read in the same day. And they are both about wine!

We still get F&W and I just realized that I haven't read any of the last few month's issues. My wife has, but that is for some recipe inspiration. Those do tend to be useful, but I guess we could get those somewhere else. I think I am going to make that call as well. We ain't reading it!!


Jason Phelps said...


So I link to a specfic article by HoseMaster, link over here and don't realize until now he hung it up. Joke's on my I guess. I saw recent comments here from him so I can only say I hope all is well and the articles I read were damn funny.

I'll obviously be back here to see what's fermenting...


Samantha Dugan said...

Well that is just sweet as hell.

You might be on to something there kid....

As The Widow HoseMaster I welcome you to both our blogs. It is true that my beloved has hung up his keyboard but all of us here keep hoping and praying, (well I don't pray...kind of a heathen) that he will come back. Not holding my breath but always holding out hope. There is a lot to read over there so don't give up, just go back and read some of the older stuff...I do it all the damn time. He is not only funny he is a remarkable writer and he is greatly missed.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read my silly crap.

TWG said...

Steve Heimoff, Eric Asimov, Charlie Olken and many others have already had the conversation and they are far better, not to mention way more important voices than mine.

Yeah right, but who wants mouth to mouth from those guys?

You'll always be our "go to girl".

TWG said...

F&W antidote: "Art of Eating".

Agreee with the Hose Master F&W survives and Gourmet closed, WTF?

The thing that really pisses me off is when F&W mentions a wine a like.

Sandra said...

Tell us how you really feel.
Well, I can't say I'm a wine connaisseur, not by any stretch of the imagination, however, you point was made so loudly and so clearly, I couldn't take my eyes off your post...oh, and I have to say, I'm always a little giddy when I see the word 'craptastic.'
I do get your point though. I was a big fan of Oxygen magazine (don't judge) until my trainer got selected to be one of the models, and I know my trainer does steroids. So I was all like, "Oxygen is trying to make their readers believe that weight training and proper form will give THOSE results?" Well, I have few more months left of my subscription, but when I get the issue in the mail every month, I don't even take it out of the plastic wrap anymore. It goes straight into the recycling bin.
I know, this would sound so much better if I was speaking of something a little smarter, like say...Syrah...

Samantha Dugan said...

I adore Art of Eating, that publication is all about passion and appreciation...oh and they can write and junk. You DON'T want mouth to mouth from those fine writers? Tough crowd....I send you kisses for the sweet comment darlin.

Well welcome girlie and thank you so much for finding this piece compelling enough to keep reading, hearing that means a lot. I think your steroid rant is exactly the same as my F&W one, we all have our "things" right?

Dave said...

Damn Sam,

I finally get a chance to catch up on all my backblog reading (lets see, that would just be yours since the demise of your iSpouse)and you've hammered out a blockbuster post. I quit F&W a couple of years ago but my dear wife got a ridiculously cheap offer recently and re-upped. Now just scan the recipes.

I did read one article by Lettie quite some time back and had to go wash my eyes out with soap. Hard to believe that ship could sink any lower, must have recruited from the local junior college bonehead English class.

Thanks so much for your efforts in helping us Return to Sanity.

Hogs and Quiches

PS Hear rumor that reports of the demise of our beloved HMW are greatly exaggerated and that he is in fact hitch hiking around Osterreich hurling insults at the vineyards and growers of Gruner Veltliner.

Samantha Dugan said...


Is that where he has been hiding?! Cheeky bastard. Yeah F&W went and pissed me off....again so quit them I must. Very rarely read it anyway so not that big a loss for me. trying to recover from a very full weekend so I can get back to posting soon! Thanks as always for adding your 2 cents darlin.

Eric V. Orange said...

Funny, I too finally figured out how to stop that auto renewal. Even a new Amex card number didn't do it. Oops, I forgot, Amex owns 'em. Who else gets auto renew to work on new cards without being verified?

Just walking by and thought I would throw in my two cents. Actually was looking for Ron. Figured he would be here.
Hi Ron.


Ron Washam said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

I know this blog isn't about me, so I'm sorry folks come here looking for me. I'd hide out on other blogs, but, well, the smell is annoying.

Dave, why in the world would I go to Austria to insult Gruner Veltliner? The Austrians do that just fine all by themselves. Nope, I just tired of being right all the time and no one else acknowledging it. I'm like the Ann Coulter of wine blogs, only I need a brassiere.

Eric, old buddy, thanks for all that you did to promote my useless blog. If you're ever up in Sonoma and able to be seen in public, let me know. Of course I hang out here with my Internet wife. I'm lonely. Now that I'm no longer the HoseMaster, my hate mail has dwindled to only the stuff from my family, some heiress from Nigeria and Puff Daddy.

Now, can we go back to Samantha?

Samantha Dugan said...

I don't mind that people come here looking for you love, in fact I am honored...as I always was to be linked to you in this crazy wine blog world. Makes me a little sad to think of you being lonely, breaks my heart that but at least you know one place you can go where everyone adores you. I'll keep taking your messages sweetheart...and keep loving you always.