Gonzo Winespeak

Neil Pendock February 19, 2008 5

Hunter S. Thompson would have made an excellent wine pundit. As Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner recalls in Gonzo (Sphere, 2007) “his experience throughout most of his life was that convocations of experts were concentrations of bullshit.” What a pity he is no longer around to crash WineCreator, “the first international symposium to host the 12 most influential enologists in the world and [sic] who will be revealing the secrets of their own wines at the meeting that will also include the wine world’s top critics and journalists” to be held in Ronda, Spain in April. Fear and Loathing in Ronda could have been a Gonzo gem.

Ralph Steadman’s portrait of HST

HST certainly drank enough. As actress Angelica Huston remembers “Hunter could go from bourbon to crème de menthe and back to fruity tropical drinks like that, or he’d order these horrible sticky drinks – Bailey’s Cream with a little champagne.” Which suggests a wonderful HST cocktail for Distell – Amarula with Pongracz.

The term Gonzo comes from Cajun slang and describes a style of unhinged playing in the French Quarter jazz scene of New Orleans. It is a no-holds-barred approach to reportage in which the personal experiences of the reporter are paramount. Gonzo is widely mimicked in rock fanzines and recently defunct WineX magazine were pioneers of Gonzo Winespeak.

The best exponent in SA is Christian (Xtian) Eedes, recently unveiled as the new editor of WINE magazine which dad Harold publishes. His weekly Gulp! newsletter supplies many examples of Gonzo Winespeak, with the current one a classic with “wild yeast fermentations” conflated with “the Kama Sutra, doing it doggy style” and an embracing of “old flames and new ideas. Bedroom eyes and blowjob lips.” With more redesigns than Zaza Gabor, perhaps another incarnation of WINE as Gonzo Gulp! will attract a new generation of winos and send circulation soaring into the stratosphere.


  1. Eddy Variet February 19, 2008 at 11:58 am -

    Seems (some) men will do anything to make people swallow.

  2. Gonzilla February 19, 2008 at 4:48 pm -

    As a passionate gonzo groupie, I’m underwhelmed at the bacchanalian effete ravings of Xtian Eedes in his Gulp column of Wine Magazine. To be compared with Eedes, Hunter S Thompson would turn in his 200l vat of 90% Alcohol, in which he was interred.

    Gonzo journalism requires the frisson of friction and “in your face” manic iconoclasm, to make its writers stand out from the mundane landscape of lesser writers.

    HST was certainly partial to a glass of wine or three, but also experimented with a wide range of chemical substances in his helter skelter life of self destructive self indulgence. Someone described his drunken scribbled rants on the Kentucky Derby as being akin to “falling down an elevator shaft and landing in a pool of mermaids” Another compared him to another icon of snuff journalism thusly: P.J. O’Rourke is a bare whisper of the shadow of a watery stew made from the least of HST’s farts,” My personal favourite wiill always be the incomparable Tom Wolfe.. and have a soft spot for the originator of the style; that elegant colonialist elitist racist snob, Evelyn Waugh.

    Blogging is perfect for gonzo, style, as it thrives on jagged edges and veiled insult. The best exponent we have is none other than that consummate asshole with swollen testicles, Ndumiso Ngcobo and his book; “Some of my best friend are white” (which I’m still busy reading as the only copy I could get in KZN was in Xhosa)

  3. Sleepy Pritchard February 19, 2008 at 6:28 pm -

    Well said Gonzilla! The real Gonzo in Wine is columnist Mikey Fridjlesticks whose persona is nearly as space-filling as his hair.

    Imagine the size of ego required to write about the great wines you’ve tasted in your life every month and then to think anyone else would be remotely interested.

  4. Adel Smith February 20, 2008 at 12:54 pm -

    I heard Xtian Eades just got married, so would speculate that his use of “bedroom eyes” and “blowjob lips” is likely nothing more than his mind racing at the thought of the marital delicacies awaiting him after church! Poor lad had waited decades!

  5. Gonzilla February 20, 2008 at 2:24 pm -

    Xtian better get as much of the bedroom eyes, blowjobs and doggy style kinky stuff while that blast furnace heat, passion and lust of the newly married rages.

    It’ll soon be replaced by the lazy eye, the quick lash of the barbed tongue and the perennial bedtime headache

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