A wine critic fights back.

So this past weekend I wrote a story about the limits of wine criticism for the National Post.

I received the following email from a wine critic whose name you’d likely recognize. I have decided not to identify the author.

Andy [sic] – You entered into this article with a clear bias against wine criticism and sucked and sculpted every supporting quote out of any willing wine critic you could find (and not the best in the land either except for Szabo). You were smart enough to give Szabo the only valid counter-point, but only on the superfluous issue of wine descriptors. C’mon man up; dare you and the Post to publish an article quoting bona fide, highly experienced and honest critics who make their living at this and who have saved thousands of Canadians millions of dollars by bringing true obejctivity, based on massive tasting experience, to their profession.  We are not all HappyHour/lifestyle columnists …

My response:

Dear [redacted],

You’re absolutely wrong about me bringing any bias to this story, first off.

As for your suggestion about a follow-up story, I’m not likely to get the Post to run one anytime soon. But if you really think your combination of insults and arrogance is persuasive — rather than characteristic of the sort of attitude that turns millions of Canadians off wine altogether, or at least makes them too timid to express opinions about it  — then by all means write to [letters at nationalpost dot com] and make your case.


Adam (not Andy) McDowell


My ebook will tell you how to make cocktails (updated with links to buy)

On Dec. 4, my first e-book will be released.

UPDATE: Here’s where to buy it:

Barnes & Noble

Drink Different: A Refreshing Guide to Home Mixology is based on my columns in the National Post, but I rewrote stuff and added to it so that it functions as a primer on making cocktails at home. That’s fun and easier than you might think.

As a teaser, you can read the first chapter here.

Anyway, if you have a thirst, a thirst for knowledge, and an e-reader …

I told the Americans what to drink in Toronto

Imbibe is a quality magazine about drinks based in Portland, Ore.; in my opinion, it’s the most important publication on the subject of drinks that are not wine. Why? Because if you’re a good bartender or booze geek in North America, it’s how you keep on top of the trends, simple as that.

In the current issue, my Destination Toronto piece talks about the great things that have been happening for cocktail and beer drinkers in this burg over the past couple of years. I’m pretty proud of us, so it was really gratifying to do the story. Pick the issue up if you see it! There’s other great stuff in there, including a DIY spiced rum recipe that I plan to make very soon.

Buy Sharp’s Book for Men! (Scotchey Scotch Scotch)

Do you like Scotch? Do you think you would enjoy reading a tantalizing tale of one man’s whirlwind tour around Scotland to drink crazy delicious whisky, complete with an explanation of what it is and how it’s made? Scotchey Scotch Scotch?

Then pick up the fall/winter edition of Sharp’s Book for Men. No, you can’t read my piece online. But if you buy a copy, you’ll also learn about knifes and tuxedos and watches and stuff like that.


My first story in The Grid

When Eye Weekly transformed into The Grid suddenly in 2011, I was initially skeptical. But the new entity has proven to be quite attractive, a pleasure to read and the subject of a lot of professional admiration from fellow journalists. They’re doing a good job, in short, so I’m happy to be involved in some small way.

When I caught wind of some changes happening at the Revue Cinema — a Roncesvalles institution I wrote about a few times circa 2006-7 — I took the story to The Grid because I thought their readership would appreciate the heads-up. This is the result:

Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles plans digital-projector upgrade.

‘Bring a thirst to Nova Scotia and it will be slaked’: Update

Have you ever noticed how many microbreweries and wineries there seem to be in Nova Scotia these days? Not to mention a couple of small distilleries. Back in October, I went to the province to check out the booze scene, with an eye to writing a travel piece about drinking one’s way through Nova Scotia. Fun to do, fun to write.

Cool water seeps into my boots as Ben Swetnam guides me through the fine mist that lingers over the vineyard. It is an October morning, the height of harvest season at Avondale Sky Winery. Ben plucks a cluster of L’Acadie blanc grapes off the vine and hands them to me for a nibble.

Read about the trip here …

[UPDATE] … and about Ironworks Distillery here.

(Both photos by yours truly.)

A whisky odyssey for Burns Day

Glenfiddich Distillery Malt 15 Years Old

In today’s National Post I relate the story of the most wonderfully strange junket I’ve ever been on. It involved three days in Scotland, two in Denmark, a lot of whisky and plenty of insight into what makes Scotch whisky the beloved spirit it is.

To wit, one nugget I had to cut from the story for length: Male distillery workers will sometimes wear women’s grooming products. When you’re nosing 300 casks a day, explained Glenfiddich’s affable malt master Brian Kinsman, “You have to buy ladies’ deodorant. Unscented men’s doesn’t exist — or at least I haven’t found it.”

The principal lesson, however, was that marketing Scotch means being up for new ideas and adventures: trying venison with sticks, holding meetings in Malaysia and maintaining ties to quiet little whisky festivals in Denmark. Continue reading “A whisky odyssey for Burns Day”