I wrote this last year not long after having seen Joe for the first time since the mid-1990s. The occasion was a dinner kindly hosted by Victoria Moore of The Daily Telegraph in London (I am very rarely in the UK, so the stars, quite literally in this case, were aligned). Soon afterwards he won the award I refer to below. I did not post this (or even send it to Joe which was my original intention) for various reasons (I don’t have his email address for starters. The one I do have is his address at Waitrose, a company he stopped working for way before my son was born. And my son is nearly 8…). Now Joe has gone and won yet another award I thought I’d get my sh*t together and post this. I have made no alterations to the original.
I was so happy for both you and the world of wine that you were presented with the IWSC Wine Communicator of the Year Award recently . My partner Silvana sometimes laments that she must be with the only bloke to have had his own TV series without ever getting around to launching his own range of corkscrews, wine glasses and drop-stoppers. But the simple reason for that is telly is tough. People get found out. I don’t have your deep knowledge of global wine, or food, or commerce, or your charisma (mind you, who has) or think-on-your-feetness and extraordinary memory that a medium like telly, especially live telly, requires. You are absolutely unique. I have only seen you since once since I took this photo of you on a press trip to Germany nearly 15 years ago. I think we spent more time on the bus than actually tasting wine, but the bus trips were the best part because we had you on board to entertain us.
Joe Wadsack, Germany 20th April 1997
I do remembering thinking you should have your own show. I am pretty sure we talked about it, more radio than telly simply because broadcasters – there were only the networks then, in pre-Netflix days – would not spend money on wine shows, and radio is much cheaper to make. I saw you as a stand-up wine comedian with the gift, as all comedians have, of teaching us something about ourselves and the subject at the same time. You come across as loud but what you say is actually quite quiet and intricate. You are a unique voice in a wine world full of voices. You don’t have a mute button but this is part of your engaging and very honest fragility. Talking about yourself is not your thing, unless to share some personal mishap (a late night, a ripped jacket stumbling over a barbed wire fence after a jar or three on the way to an early morning flight….). What was so typical about your acceptance speech is that for a man being given an award for his egregious ability to communicate you were lost for words. The only word I have is justice. The judges picked the right man. Well done them. And well done you.