Thursday, May 28, 2015

John Turi, Author of A Drinker With A Writing Problem / A Wine Lover’s Retrospective

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Today we are interviewing John Turi, author of "A Drinker With A Writing Problem / A Wine Lover’s Retrospective."

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Pertaining to wine, I’ve been learning about grapes before I could drink them. I had the chance to work for a famous wine store in Long Beach/Naples, California for many years and I learned just about everything I know about wine from the people who worked there. I go into some detail in the book about Morry’s of Naples. The store closed a few years ago--I do miss that place. For a college kid, it was an entertaining place to work.

Describe your book in a few sentences.
ADWAWP is about a personal adventure with wine; my knowledge, writing, and drinking. There are twelve chapters in the book and each one is about a specific wine. More than just my life in wine, I go into detail about each winery I’m writing about. Some people have classified the book as creative non-fiction. I also did all the photography for the book.

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?
If you enjoy wine, then you’re already going to like it. If you know nothing about wine, but like having it with dinner, you will enjoy it and possibly even learn something. A friend of mine has the audiobook version and he says he listens to it all the time while he is stuck in traffic. The voice narrator, Steve Carlson, knocked the audio version out of the park. The book is not your boring wine review critique, by any means.
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Author/wine critic John Turi

What inspired you to put together a book that incorporates all of your best wine writing?
The editor at ConnotationPress.com, where I write a monthly wine article, suggested I get my work out in print format. Ken Robidoux felt more people would find my work in the Food and Wine section on Amazon, since his magazine is 95% literary based. I have a few fiction books I did years ago and this was my first non-fiction work.

One of the things highlighted about your book is that your wine reviews aren’t simply reviews; they’re stories about each specific wine. Why do you take this approach to writing about wine?
I feel the world of wine has taken a turn from old stodgy wine critics--who for thirty years have pontificated on the nuances of a wine and slapped down a rating without giving any emotion to what they’re talking about--to younger, hipper people who grew up reading their parents’ copies of Wine Spectator and wanted more passion, more depth, more human interaction. Coming from a creative writing background, I can’t help but put my crazy life, thoughts, and attitude into the articles. One of my editors is constantly yelling at me, “You can’t say… such and such, they’ll sue you!” I just put it out there and see where it lands. There are some excellent wine bloggers and podcasters who are changing things in the world of wine. It’s great to see them get creative and bring followers along with them who otherwise think wine is for the elite, or something to have with dinner. I have more fun with wineries and likeminded people on Instagram than I do on my own wine blog. Wine is social.

How do you select a wine for review?
I’ve been enjoying wine for over twenty-five years and my personal collection is pretty crazy. Like any obsession, the more you do it, the more you are going to level up to the best. The simplest answer is - I only review the best bottles. Why would I waste my time writing about something I don’t enjoy? Most of my wine is bought at wine auctions, so when I’m scanning the catalog of selections, I always spot something that I feel deserves to be written about; especially, if I have a prior history with the wine or winery.

Can you tell us a bit about the process of writing a wine review, from the first sip to the finished review?
It all starts with a wine, of course. Who do I want to write about this month? Once I’ve picked the winery, I pick the varietal and then the vintage. The year plays a big part. When that is all figured out I start researching everything I can on the history of the winery, the process, the awards, etc. This can take anywhere from one to three weeks. Then I sit down and write my story, incorporating the research, and when all of that is finished, I open the bottle and find it. By “it” I mean everything that has led me to want to open that bottle and taste what I’ve been writing about. From there I’ll give it a rating from 90 -100 (anything less than 90 is not worth my time) and send it off to the editor. Have I ever been disappointed with a wine I’ve done so much research on? In all the years of my writing it has only happened once, but I won’t disclose the winery. My rating, my taste of the wine, is just my opinion.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about wine writing?
That I must live a lavish lifestyle of travelling the world, drinking wine and rubbing elbows with the wine elite. I hear this all the time on Facebook, Instagram, and my blog. The truth is, I purchase every wine I write about-- be it a $25 chardonnay to an $800 Bordeaux. Since I’m a wine writer, I do get to write off my wine expenses, but I enjoy sitting at home with my wife on a Saturday night, making her dinner as we open the bottle I’m reviewing. The problem with that is that I’ve taught her well all these years and she has a better palate than I do at times. It drives me crazy!

How do you think reading your book will impact people?
Sit back on a Sunday afternoon with a glass of your favorite wine and a tray of cheese and crackers, and just dive in. I guarantee you’ll never look at wine the same. I get emails from all over the world, from people that tell me that they enjoy my writing and my passion, and if I’m ever in their country or city to please look them up, because they would love to share a bottle with me and have a good conversation. Those comments I carry with me as I write the next article.

What do you have in mind for your next writing project?
An old friend told me that he misses the unedited angst in my writing and he would love to see me put a collection of my personal blog in print. Aside from writing about wine, I have a personal blog where I essentially post my private diary. I’m not giving the website; you can Google it. I’ve written about very personal details of my life for the world to read, comment, and laugh about. Hopefully by 2016 that book will be in print and everyone can read about the night I lost my virginity, why I hate my Facebook friends, or why being an artist is the craziest thing someone could want to be.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?

The print version is beautifully designed. It’s in full color and has great quotes and a funny forward by the editor of the magazine I write for. Just recently, the first story in the book won the Millesima award for Fine Wine writing, which I’m very proud of. The book is also available on Kindle and in Audiobook formats. Give it a read while you’re trapped on an airplane for a few hours.

More Information
Buy "A Drinker with a Writing Problem" on Amazon 
Check out John Turi's wine column

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