Restaurant Report

Free Newsletter - Subscribe Today

Restaurant Management
Restaurant Marketing
Restaurant Service
Restaurant Operations
Restaurant Accounting & Finance
Restaurant PR
Restaurant Design
Chef Talk
Online Store
Buyer's Guide
E-mail Newsletter
Advertising Info
About Us
Our Sister Site:

Follow Restaurant Report on Twitter

Restaurant Report on Facebook

An Interview with Marvin Shanken
by Phillip Silverstone

Phillip Marvin Shaken is the Publisher of the Wine Spectator and the Cigar Aficionado. He wasn't the friendliest person I'd ever interviewed, but he publishes incredibly successful magazines, and employs some brilliant editors and correspondents, all of whom collectively produce some interesting wine and cigar world perspectives in the two publications. So personalities aside, I sat with Mr. S. and suffered a certain amount of attitude in order to speak to the man whose fans include Arnold Schwarzenneger and Jack Nicholson.

PS: What inspired you to become the publisher of the Wine Spectator?

MS: It's overly simplistic… I love wine. That's it. It's just what I want to do with my life. I had no great dream and no big plans. It was just a case of being associated with the product that I love.

PS: So I'm going to assume that it was the same reason you came up with Cigar Aficionado.

MS: Yep.

PS: You singlehandledly educated a generation on the pleasures of wine and now cigars. You must feel rather proud of that achievement. Yet I imagine there are certain responsibilities attached to this role.

MS: There's no question about it. You hit it on the core of the magazines that I publish, which is education. I really think that I'm in the educating business more that the publishing business. So whether it's wine, cigars or anything else, that's really the foundation of what we do. We're educators.

PS: Do you believe the cigar-friendly trend will continue to be embraced by restaurants?

Wine glasses MS: Well of course there is a new law in New York and there have been recent changes in the law in California and some other states. I think right now there is a backlash. I'd like to think it's temporary. I'd like to think that long-term there will be some balance so that smokers and nonsmokers can coexist. I certainly think that more and more people are realizing that there is nothing more enjoyable than a fine cigar after dinner, perhaps with a port or cognac to include in a meal with friends. And that's part of what life is all about.

PS: The world's changed significantly since you first started publishing the Wine Spectator. Do you believe there are some wine gems to be found in countries where perhaps we didn't previously have access?

MS: Well, when you say wine gems, you know we send our editors literally all over the world, and they spend a week to three weeks in a given country. We're finding emerging countries where the wine quality is greatly improved, so it represents new markets and great value. Gems, that's another category. You're talking about, I assume, a limited production of very very high quality wine, and I think for the most part many of those have already been discovered. Not that there won't be others, but it's not an everyday occurrence.

PS: Do you think we're actually going to see Cuban cigars legally imported into this country quite soon?

MS: I do. I think within the next two years there is going to be some kind of re-establishment of relations between Cuba and the United States. And obviously, one of the first exports that will hit the shores of America will be Cuban cigars.

PS: Do you have any recommendations for my readers for wines which you feel offer incredible value for money at the moment? I don't know if that's a tough question.

Wine MS: That's an easy question because that's what we do for a living. In recent issues we have looked at Chile and Argentina, which are beginning to ship in large quantities of very good wine at very reasonable prices. We recently sent one of our editors to Australia for three weeks. He did a major report. They're making some great wines, especially Chardonnay that are coming here in the nine to fifteen dollar price range, and I think that's something to look for.

And of course California steadfastly is producing great wines even from newly emerging regions within the state. And there are a number of states within the United States that are beginning to produce much higher quality then they had in the past. I think one of the big problems for us is to concentrate and pick a few areas because there is so much excitement happening in grape growing and wine making all over the world.

I should point out that the comments which I expressed at the beginning of this column are solely my views, and do not reflect the opinions of this fine publication.

Phillip Silverstone is a syndicated broadcaster and columnist. His book, "Cheers! The World of a Wine-osaur" (Camino Books, $12) is available in bookstores everywhere.

Copyright © 1997-2020 Restaurant Report LLC. All rights reserved.