You look like a Tempranillo to me

I’m sure I’m not the only writer who looks back on their past work and shudders.

Fortunately for me, everything I wrote as a fledgling writer has disappeared from the internet (along with everything else that was published by SEE Magazine). I still have copies of everything, in both PDF and actual paper – I was so excited to have my own wine column that every week I meticulously clipped out each of my columns and stuck them in a notebook. Yeah, nerdy.

But that book is also a pretty cool artifact now: a peek back into the initial stage of my journey as a writer, and a snapshot of a time when print media was still doing OK and Edmonton was able to support two alt-weekly papers and two mainstream papers, all owned by different people! I recently dug that book out of the basement and took a jaunt down memory lane.

SEE Magazine wine column, circa 2008
we ran some doozies for headlines back then

The headline on my first column, published just over nine years ago on December 12, 2007, was: “You look like a Tempranillo to me.” It was a holiday wine gift guide, but with a twist: I paired wine with various people. Here’s a particular gem of a quote:

Buying for Uncle Leroy, your tinsel-draped, pissed by 4pm and staggering around the living room singing unintelligible, vaguely carol-like tunes like some unholy Christmas zombie, is a snap. Just buy something high in alcohol. Aim for Australian Shiraz, Napa Valley Zinfandel, or even a fortified wine, like Tawny Port. Ol’ Leroy will be bellowing “Hark The Harold Snowman Sings” while you get to finish off the bottle.

Yikes.

I had a major chip on my shoulder back then – I was out to prove that I was #edgy and cool and all that. It took me a while to figure out that snark is not equivalent to wit. It’s so transparent now that I cringe to read through those first couple years of writing. But hey – you have to start somewhere, right?

I think I also spent somewhere upwards of eight hours on that first column, agonizing over every word and going through five or six drafts before I finally sent it off to my editor. Thankfully I no longer take that long to write, or I don’t think I would have made it this far.

In honour of the Christmas season – not because I think you actually need to (or should) follow my nine-year-old wine advice – here’s my very first published article. Enjoy.

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