Wine X: Oenology for Twentysomethings

So you couldn't spring for tickets to the Texas Wine and Food Festival's hullabaloo at the Four Seasons, and quite frankly, you think wine (at least the kind that comes in a "small" bottle as opposed to a jug or box) is out of your league? Well, the folks at Wine X magazine consider it their mission to change your mind. Given the mag's title, their target readership is no secret. And a trip through the loud, graphic-laden pages proves that this is not reading designed to make the huffy oenophile feel at home.

In Wine X, you won't see columns with prim titles like "Bacchus" or "Of Grape & Grain." Instead, you get "Wine Bitch," "Rage," "Trippin' Out," and "Sex, Wine, & Rock 'n' Roll." The magazine's no-hassle entertaining tips are sure to make Martha Stewart wince, then there are the witty tasting notes and wine ratings. As the folks who put the publication together unabashedly explain, "Our philosophy is that wine is about passion. It's about friends, family, food, the environment you're in and the music you're listening to. And we think it's about time people started treating wine that way, instead of placing it on a pedestal and worshipping it with a numerical value." What follows is a listing of wines categorized by variety and price (under $15 and over $15), with tasting notes like "Like your first roll in the hay -- exciting, wet, and a little green. XX potential," for the 1997 Chateau Souverain Alexander Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($8.50), or "The Suddenly Susan of Zins -- fun, fruity, but not terribly talented," to sum up the Bonverre 1996 Zinfandel ($10).

Yet despite its hip, "cooler-than-thou" veneer, Wine X does right by wine. The same huffy oenophile who would find Tori Amos an inappropriate cover girl (the red-headed rocker compared wine to the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders in the January/February issue), will find it hard to take issue with the magazine's brazen educational bent. Wine X writers share their finds from around the world, doing their best to describe the vino in ways that are accessible to "Gen X." The assumption they make (which, by the way, wine marketers can back up) is that much of the twenty- and thirtysomething crowd feels more at ease squeezing a longneck than pouring a bottle of Chateau Haut Brion. So dispelling wine snobbery and getting Gen X to partake of the grape is clearly regarded as job #1. Perhaps the only criticism I can slap on Wine X is that it tries a little too hard sometimes. Or maybe it's just that I'm not quite cool enough to get it all the time. I mean, what does "Wesley Snipes in tight leather pants at a chili cook-off" possibly have to do with a Chilean Cabernet? That being said, I guess wine talks to everybody in its own way, and Wine X is just doing its best to speak for the Gen X Everyman. -- Rebecca Chastenet de Géry

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