Danielle Mustarde gets stuck into natural wine with Pipette (and almost doesn’t finish this article) for the second edition of ‘It’s this one thing…’ our new feature which takes you gently by the hand and guides you into the world of notably-niche magazines—be that natural wines, the art of bathing, or women who skateboard.
What better way to sit down with ‘the indie mag about natural wines’ than with a big, fat bottle of the stuff? On the afternoon before my date with petit publication and magCulture staple Pipette, I decide to seek professional help—of the vinest kind.
Now, I often enjoy a healthy glass of red at home but that’s about as in-depth as my career du sommelier has progressed. When picking up a bottle of something, I’m very much about putting wine shop staff to good use with a finely-scripted: ‘I like a light-bodied, easygoing red—nothing you can chew.’
Incredibly, this appears to mean something to the attendant in my local bottle shop and, along with the condition that it must be naturally made, I’m enthusiastically led over to their well-stocked shelves. After some quality umming and ahing I decide on something French—largely because it costs less than fifteen quid and has a sweet, scribbly label drawn by a child (I hope).
Back at home and as late afternoon leans into evening, I decide it’s time. Glugging a little of my chosen plonk into a glass, I put on some (unnecessary?) mood lighting and lay open my copy of Pipette. Though I’ve dipped into a handful of the most recent issues, this is the first time I’ve dedicated some real time to it.
It’s not that I wasn’t attracted to it—it’s more-often-than-not illustrated covers are up there with best, in fact issue five’s cover is a definite favourite. I suppose I just presumed a magazine dedicated to the the culture of naturally-produced wines might not hold my attention for a full 96 pages. Plot twist: I was wrong.
Despite my very average wine knowledge, we immediately hit it off. What really helps to pull me into this issue is the fact that it’s actually a little bit of a ‘behind the scenes’ edition, as editor and ‘American in Australia’ Rachel Signer puts it.
As well as their more usual content, we’re invited into the physical, pen-and-paper world of Pipette—from an interview with Rachel exploring both the history and future of her magazine, to a feature on how and where the magazine physically comes into being (it’s printed at Medialis in Berlin).
As for the ‘usual’ content, there’s a piece on The First (And Only) Natural Winery In Finland; an in-depth look at post-pandemic recovery and New York’s Natural Wine Scene; and even a feature on Anti-Racism and Intersectional Feminism In a Post-Trump World. Wine, what?
I also lose myself in an interview with Talitha Whidbee, owner of the Vine Wine shop in New York and, by-default, curator of the Insta-famous ‘Vine Wine Sign’: ‘known, not only across Brooklyn, but across the US and the world for being provocative, angry as hell, and entirely unrelated to wine.’ (If you don’t follow her already, you probably should).
Though natural wines are the glue-y tannins that holds Pipette together, the real subjects of this predetermined magazine (the next issue, 10, will be its last) are the people and communities who feature throughout its pages. As Rachel muses in her editor’s letter:
‘Natural wine makes the world smaller. It connects us, across geography and time …That’s what I think drives this magazine. The voices coming together from across the world.’
The further I leaf through the pages (and the emptier my glass) the more I find myself in agreement with her. There’s a lot less focus on the actual process of wine creation, or the jargon that could easily come along with it, and much more of an open window onto the lives of those who’ve escaped the glare of a computer screen (perhaps a little, at least) and swapped it either for a life of viniculture or another role within the industry’s wider ecosystem.
What this does, most notably, is take a subject that is frequently made to appear inaccessible, accessible. There are no gatekeepers here. This is a (women-led) magazine about community, art, culture, family, politics, independent publishing …and natural wine.
As is the case for the product itself, the best thing about popping into your local bottle shop is the chance to interact with the knowledgable staff who work there. And the wonderful thing about le vin more generally? It’s simply that it has the power to bring people together. Just like Pipette.
It may be small in size, but Pipette will leave a significant gap on the magCulture shelves once the soon-to-be ripe and ready issue 10 has been lovingly chosen and taken home by our customers. Until then though, there’s still issue nine to dig into before our final lot. Which is all the more reason to treat yourself to a glass of wine while you read, non?
Something light-bodied for me, please—nothing you can chew.
Editor & publisher: Rachel Signer
Layout designer: Emma Dragovic