our philosophy

Wine and Spirits is America's practical guide to the straightforward, enlightened enjoyment of fine wine and and premium spirits. We have for 18 years served customers and marketers alike with a lively mix of wine reviews, features, profiles, food and wine pairings, new product introductions, travel pieces, history, opinion and wine business news. Editorial is focused on serving the needs of the customer, but we are well aware that this same information will also be vital to wine marketers, producers, retailers and restaurateurs. Circulation is 75,000: 71,000 paid (48,000 newsstand, 23,000 subscribers); 4,000 non-paid.

Wine and Spirits is the only wine publication in America to win a James Beard Award for excellence in wine writing- and we've done it twice- in 1996 and 2000.

Wine and Spirits is the only genuinely national wine magazine in America to be published in a conventional magazine format (81/2" x 11"), making us by far the most convenient publication to read, to store, and to find on the newsstand.

Wine and Spirits is the only wine publication in the world to devote one full issue a year (September) to the single subject of wine education.

Wine and Spirits publishes the results of our unique Annual Restaurant Wine Poll each April, a feature which has become the industry standard for gauging the popularity of restaurant wine brands in America, and which gets picked up every year by the Associated Press, the New York Times, and USA Today.

Wine and Spirits is distinctly different from other wine magazines in that we focus more on the substance of wine than on style. Rather than report on wine as fashion in the context of the "lifestyles of the rich and famous," we concentrate instead on the ways in which wine might fit into a normal life, well-lived. Thus:

Instead of reporting on a wine auction as a social event, with pictures of celebrities and the dinner that followed, we'll talk about how the auction works: how is an auction put together, how do you participate in one, and how can you find good values there?

When reporting on the latest, hot "wine of the moment," we talk about what's behind the buzz, and what makes a brand or style of wine popular in the first place. We offer in-depth profiles of wine brands and regions, helping our readers develop the skills to decide for themselves which kinds of wines they'll enjoy most in a variety of settings. To this end we feature Value Brands of the Year each June, and Wineries of the Year each November. There's a regional focus to each issue, and a strong emphasis on how and why food and wine interact with each other.

Rather than soothing our readers with assurances that they've arrived, we arm our readers with the knowledge they'll need to get there.


how we taste

All wine evaluations for our tastings section are conducted under controlled, blind conditions, the wines served in numbered glasses in our own offices (San Francisco for domestic wines; New York for imported wines). There are no exceptions.

Wine & Spirits tastings are a two-step process. First, all wines submitted to us or purchased are tasted by screening panels, who are asked to determine which wines stand out as being better than average for their variety and appellation. These panels, conducted by W&S staff, are composed of retailers, sommeliers, winemakers and other wine professionals whom we invite to taste with us. The goal is to draw on a broad universe of tasters to help us decide which wines are worth recommending, and to avoid the prejudices any one critic might exercise, consciously or not, which might prevent certain styles or classes of wine from being considered.

The wines recommended by our screening panels-generally between 20 and 30 percent of those originally assessed-are then presented at a later date to our critic, who scores each wine and writes the reviews. A second, unopened bottle of each is used for this step. The critic's ratings are based on how well a wine performs within its category as labeled (varietally or regionally).

Wines from 80 to 85 are recommended as good examples of their variety or region. Wines from 86 to 89 are highly recommended; from 90 to 94 are exceptional examples of their type; and 95 or higher are superlative, rare finds.

The wines recommended here have been selected by a broad range of educated palates, but then rated and described by an individual critic. Our goal with these ratings is for each critic to provide a consistent point of view against which you may measure your own taste over time.

The label reproductions that appear in these tasting reports are a form of advertising. After our tastings are completed and the results have been recorded, our marketing team offers wineries the opportunity to draw attention to their reviews with label reproductions. There is no obligation to advertise, and our scores and reviews are in no way affected by a winery's decision regarding advertising. Neither does advertising influence our selection of the wines we taste; our tastings are open to all.

All bottle reproductions in the magazine, including those for the Year's Best Lists and Best Value pages, are purely editorial art.




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