Simon J Woolf | British drinks and wine writer. He is currently (2019) based in Amsterdam.
His writing career began in 2011 with the founding of ‘The Morning Claret’, his website, an online resource for natural wines. This focuses on natural and artisanal wines, as well as on organics and Biodynamics. Woolf also specialises in the wines of Italy, Austria and Eastern Europe.
His career prior included working as a musician, sound engineer, IT consultant and alternative currency designer. (Simon describes himself as ‘a fan of difficult music that others might consider unlistenable.)
Books & wine writing | Simon’s first book ‘Amber Revolution: How the World Learned to Love Orange Wine’ was published in 2018. The New York Times hailed it as one of the year’s top five wine books, and it won the 2019 Roederer Best Wine Book of the Year award. The book has received widespread critical acclaim and was also shortlisted for the André Simon Food and Drink books award 2018. The book features photos by Ryan Opaz. Simon has contributed to Decanter magazine and Meininger’s Wine Business International, plus World of Fine Wine, as well as many other publications on and offline.
Drinks Documenting 2020 | in January 2020 Simon documented every alcoholic drink he drank for that month. Simon called it ‘a personal reality check, and also as a reaction to the ‘Dry January’ initiative, which [he say] is fundamentally flawed. Being honest about one’s own alcohol consumption feels similar to having awkward conversations about money or sex. I see myself as a ‘normal’, functioning, healthy individual who nonetheless enthusiastically enjoys a range of beverages (wine, craft beer, occasional cocktails or other mixed drinks). Drinking is a part of my everyday social life. it’s an activity shared pleasurably with friends, family and partner. Would the mere act of documenting what I drank cause a behaviour change? It did on more than one occasion, especially early in the month before the novelty had worn off. I refused a couple of night-caps, and became more vigilant in tipping away wine I wasn’t enjoying.’
That said, analysing the months’ intake makes it very plain that I drink significantly more than the recommended amounts in most countries. During January, my weekly UK units ranged between 27 – 42 (my monthly total was a scary 166). I’m barely clinging to Italy’s generous recommendation of up to 40gr pure alcohol per day (3-4 glasses of wine), but in the Netherlands and the UK I’d be regarded as a binge-drinker or even a medical problem waiting to happen. The UK’s drinkaware site assesses me as follows: “Your drinking is dangerous to your health, increasing your risk of serious health problems including seven types of cancer, liver and heart disease, and high blood pressure. Unless you cut down you are at risk of damaging your health.” (An aside: Whether I input a week with 30 units or my most extreme week with 42 units, the assessment was unchanged.)
Awards | Roederer International Wine Writer Awards Feature Writer of the Year 2018.
Wine judge | Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) 2019.
YouTube | Simon’s YouTube channel is SimonOfOrange.
Simon Woolf, ‘Making a mark in the Marche’, Decanter May 2016, p46-50.