Introducing: NOT DRINKING POISON – The Newsletter

Perhaps five years ago I went for a drink with a natural wine importer I’d recently met. He complemented this wine blog, before adding, as if perplexed, “Why do you do it for free?”

I probably replied something to the effect of, “What choice do I have?”

I always figured I couldn’t ask people to pay for self-published writing, simply because I myself haven’t often paid for self-published writing. When I blog, I try to write for readers like myself. That’s the fun of it, and what separates it from commissions for editors. So I’ve always made the blog free, and tried to make pocket money by pitching stories for “real” publications.

Recently I’ve come to suspect I might have it all backwards. “Real” publications pay peanuts these days, and pitching takes ages. So I’ve used the Substack platform to create a subscription-only NOT DRINKING POISON newsletter. The first issue will come out on the 19th November, a wink at my beloved Beaujolais Nouveau.

The NOT DRINKING POISON newsletter will evolve at it grows. But the general format of each issue will be:

-1 cover feature, revealing something new, overlooked, or under-appreciated within the world of natural wine.
-1 region-specific vintage report, compiled from conversations with local vignerons.
-1 restaurant review. A new place in Paris, or another major city, or a destination in a wine region.
-2 or 3 shorter profiles of newly-installed or little-known winemakers.
-A few featured bottles, and why they’re noteworthy.
-A contribution from a friend.

I’ll try to make the NOT DRINKING POISON newsletter a new experience. It’ll retain the flavor of the website. But it’ll be streamlined and regular, aimed at sharing the best of natural wine culture in a timely fashion.

I set initial pricing at the lowest that the Substack platform will permit: 30€ for a year. I might raise it after the first issue. But I sincerely want subscriptions to remain cheap – no more than the price of a bottle of decent wine at a wine shop. Subscribing to the NOT DRINKING POISON newsletter should feel like that: like buying me a drink, a bottle for us to share.

Have you enjoyed reading this blog over the last decade? Has it been useful? Then by all means, buy me a drink! Subscribe !

For any readers feeling especially generous or indulgent, Substack’s platform suggested I offer a more expensive package for “Founding Members.” I didn’t want to do that without providing some bang for the the buck. So I decided to initiate a series of exclusive, limited-run posters that I’ll mail to Founding Members. Each one will be the work of an artist within the natural wine scene. The first poster is by my friend and Beaujolais mentor Denis Pesnot. The brother of Muscadet vigneron Marc Pesnot, Denis is a painter, sommelier, and cellar-hand, responsible for a plethora of excellent wine labels as well as the murals on the ceiling of the Domaine Lapierre winery. (I’ll write more about Denis soon. He’s a treasure.)

I’ll still keep the Not Drinking Poison website active. But it’ll become more of a place for general announcements and commentary. Anything new, juicy, or exclusive will go to the Not Drinking Poison newsletter. I hope you’ll join me there !