Vintage perspective from Hugh Johnson

One of my favorite books to pick up whenever I have a few free moments (seldom) or need inspiration for my wine writing (often) is Hugh Johnson on Wine: Good Bits from 55 Years of Scribbling, published last year by Mitchell Beazley. It’s a collection of articles from the writer I learned most from in my early wino days, peppered in the margins with observations and bons mots from his perspective of today.

I picked up the book again this weekend and laughed aloud at Johnson’s introduction to a thumb-sucker piece from Wine Times in late 1989, called “Into the Nineties: A Spot of Prophesy.” On one level, it’s just a clever way to worm himself into his piece, but it also is a vivid example of how our love for wine influences our outlook on life.

“I confess I never quite know what the media are driving at when they use a decade as shorthand for a mood, a style, or a way of living. We are supposed to nod wisely when a journalist says how very ‘sixties’ someone is. I’m too dim to get it. To say that some splendid person is a proper ’61, on the other hand, or some wretch is a mouldy little ’65, strikes me as a very acceptable shorthand. A vintage year and its quality are historical facts that gradually permeate our wine-loving consciousness. The great ones stay there for a very long time.”

Yes, they do, Hugh.

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About Dave McIntyre

Wine columnist for The Washington Post, co-founder of DrinkLocalWine.com, and blogger at Dave McIntyre's WineLine (dmwineline.com).
This entry was posted in Wine, Wine Humor, writers and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Vintage perspective from Hugh Johnson

  1. Tx Dave, had never heard of that book. Must get a copy now 🙂
    Cheers

  2. Tom Riley says:

    Dave, thank you for this. When he keynoted the Wine Writers Symposium a few years ago he mentioned this book’s impending publication but I lost track of it. I’m gonna order it right now. His Pocket Guide was my first wine book back in 1980, and when he autographed it a year or two ago I got pretty choked up. Turns out he had that effect on a number of the more veteran attendees there as well. Cheers!

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