Top 3 Wine Magazines

Despite the decline of newspapers, magazines are seeing double-digit growth and wine magazines are riding high on this trend. Magazines can serve particular interest niches very well because they attract expert writers, dedicated readers, and advertisers who have specific target audiences.

The top three magazines for wine connoisseurs and amateurs looking to get into the game are Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Wine & Spirits.

Wine & Spirits

Wine & Spirits is the smallest of the three, reaching under 100,000 readers a year with 8 print issues, but what it lacks in market size it makes up in personality. Its publisher, Joshua Greene, actively opposes the 100-point scale that almost every other wine magazine wholeheartedly embraces.

Mr. Greene argues that point scales are inherently arbitrary. These scales assume that there is a consistency in tasters’ ability to assign points. However, point systems can be valuable in identifying trends from particular producers, regions or vintages. Ultimately, a weakening of blind faith in point systems is an opportunity for true connoisseurs and enthusiasts to experiment more frequently and better learn to ignore price and points, instead relying on a better-developed sense of personal taste.

With a publisher that has no qualms about bucking the status quo, Wine & Spirits has more focused and more innovative articles. A recent issue talks about biodynamic wine production, a fairly recent embrace by vintners of a 1924 process that calls for nine soil treatments.

Wine Enthusiast

Wine Enthusiast, the youngest of the three having started in 1988, publishes 14 print issues a year and reaches about 800,000 readers, including those who visit its website.

Wine Enthusiast aims for a broad reach with print and online publication, trade and consumer wine events, an awards dinner, and a sister wine shop, Wine Express. The magazine itself focuses heavily on ratings. Its reviewers are stationed in the world’s major wine regions so that the Wine Enthusiast buying guide can include deeper information about the regions, producers, and varietals themselves.

Live events are a great way to sample new wines, get deals on bottles and cases, and meet other enthusiasts who range from amateurs to experts. Wine Enthusiast holds such events at a steady clip during the summer months in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington DC, and Atlanta. Perhaps wisely, Wine Enthusiast Magazine blends real-life experiences with the information and critiques of their print and online publications and publish a newsletter that ensures their fans and readers stay in sync.

Wine Spectator

Wine Spectator delivers 15 print issues a year to almost 400,000 people. Including their website, Wine Spectator reaches almost 3 million readers a year.

The rock-steady Wine Spectator etched a name for itself in the high-end luxury wine market. It’s median readership age is 53, 78% of whom hold a college degree, and more than half of whom are in top management positions in their companies. With a readership boasting more than $1 million in assets and real estate on average, it’s no surprise that top brands vie for influence in its advertising. The magazines advertisers include Cartier, Hublot, St. Regis Bal Harbour, and Chanel.

Wine Spectator
Wine Spectator (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First published in 1976 in San Francisco by Bob Morrisey, the magazine made its first major mark by blind tasting and reviewing more than 12,000 wines in a single year. Today, the magazine holds an annual Wine Experience event in New York City, drawing more than a 1,000 connoisseurs to experience more than 300 different wines.

In the early 80s, Wine Spectator introduced the Restaurant Awards program to stratify restaurants based on the quality of their wine lists. With more than 3,500 restaurants rated in either the basic, second-tier, or highest categories, the Restaurant Awards program has become a controversial profit center for the publisher, netting more than a $1 million each year in submission fees.

Regardless of your fervor for wine, there is a magazine for you, and it’s probably one of these.