Matthews, Patrick 1953-
MATTHEWS, Patrick 1953-
PERSONAL: Born August 24, 1953; children: one daughter and two sons. Education: Graduate of Westminster School, Oxford University.
ADDRESSES: Home—17 Islip St., London NW5 2DJ, England. Agent—PFD, Drury House, 34-43 Russell St., London WC2B 5HA, England. E-mail—P. [email protected]
CAREER: Writer, freelance journalist. Thames TV, researcher, 1979-82; producer of documentary films and television programs, including (assistant producer) Food and Drink, BBC-2, 1983; (and writer) The A-Z of C&W, 1985; The Late Show and Dispatches, C4, 1991; director of documentary films, including (and writer) Festival of Architecture, RIBA Department of Environmental Film, 1984; Naguib Mahfouz, BBC-2, 1989; (and writer) The Curry Connection, C4, 1990; Cities of Salt, C4, 1992; Hailing a C.A.B., C4, 1995; freelance producer, 1987-88. Author of wine column for Time Out. University of Surrey, Roehamptom, London, England, visiting lecturer in journalism.
AWARDS, HONORS: Glenfiddich Drink Book of the Year award, 1998, for The Wild Bunch: Great Wines from Small Producers; Best Book for Wine Professionals, World Cookbook Awards, for Real Wine: The Rediscovery of Natural Winemaking.
(Editor) Christie's Wine Companion, Salen House, 1987.
The Wild Bunch: Great Wines from Small Producers, Faber & Faber (London, England), 1997.
Cannabis Culture: A Journey through Disputed Territory, Bloomsbury (London, England), 1999, revised edition, 2003.
Real Wine: The Rediscovery of Natural Winemaking, Mitchell Beazley (London, England), 2000.
Contributor of articles to various British and American publications and magazines, including the Guardian, BBC History, Esquire, Decanter, Observer, Times, Telegraph, Daily Mail, Daily Express, Evening Standard, You Magazine, ES Magazine, Independent, Saveur, and Food and Wine.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A book about media manipulation during the Cold War, as seen through family history; a guide to buying wine directly from Burgundy growers, publication expected in 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: British writer and freelance journalist Patrick Matthews has written extensively about wine in magazines and is the author of books on natural winemaking. He is also the author of a book that explores the culture of marijuana, or cannabis, both past and present. In his books about wine, Matthews has focused on small wine producers and the natural approach to wine making. In his first book, The Wild Bunch: Great Wines from Small Producers, Matthews describes a new breed of wine growers and producers who are turning away from high-tech wine making and returning to the old ways of more natural wine production. These growers are concerned primarily with regional wines and their associated authenticity and purity. Although hard to find, these wines are available, and the author provides information on where to find them.
In his follow-up book on the natural approach to producing wine, Real Wine: The Rediscovery of Natural Winemaking, Matthews contrasts the simple and mostly natural approach to wine production, which he prefers, with the widely marketed wine produced with advanced technology. Writing in the Evening Standard of London, Andrew Jefford called Real Wine "a timely book, since it addresses the most controversial issue in wine making today." According to Matthews, wine producers using the high-tech approach alter and adjust with technology and chemicals the flavor of the grapes they use to maximize the commercial appeal of their wines. Those using the natural approach, on the other hand, produce whatever type of wine that naturally results from the type of grapes a region produces. "Matthews has a curious, sparky, lightning-conductor of a mind and there is a mass of fascinating, if sometimes abstruse, research in this chunky little book," noted Jefford, adding that the book might have been even better if Matthews had provided a "more coherent and crafted argument." London Sunday Times contributor Joanna Simon also thought the book timely, noting that "Matthews argues thoughtfully for the former [natural approach] and, encouragingly, sees it re-emerging in traditional and new wine countries, despite the increasing incursions of the big corporations."
While Matthews may be a dedicated connoisseur of wine and wine culture, he also developed an interest in a less accepted culture. According to Matthews, he had smoked marijuana as a youth in the 1960s and had, like many of his contemporaries, quit by the time he reached thirty. He became reacquainted with the drug culture through one of his children, who became familiar with the cannabis culture in the Camden section of London and told his father stories of people who were selling marijuana. Matthews was finally inspired to write Cannabis Culture: A Journey through Disputed Territory when a lawyer friend of his revealed that he smoked cannabis. According to Rachel Ong, writing in Lock online, "It suddenly dawned on Patrick that cannabis culture was not restricted to a specific demographic."
Determined to debunk stereotypes and to undercover the truth about cannabis and its dangers, Matthews went on an odyssey that took him from England to Amsterdam to northern Morocco. In the process, he interviewed everyone from growers of cannabis to small-time drug dealers to scientists who have conducted the latest research on the drug. For example, the author reviews the British study that linked cannabis use at a young age with the development of psychosis later on in life. He also talked with pro-cannabis lobbyists who believe that the plant has medicinal and other values, and to strict prohibitionists who believe that marijuana should never be made legal.
In Cannabis Culture, Matthews not only provides a modern look at the current state of affairs concerning marijuana, its users, and the latest scientific research, he also discusses the history of cannabis and its horticulture. In addition, Matthews addresses the politics surrounding the debate over decriminalization, which, in turn, may have influenced many of the scientific studies focusing on the effects of cannabis. Reflecting his connoisseur's interest in wines, he also describes the various types or qualities of the "high" produced by different strains of cannabis. "What this suggests is that in the future we can look forward to a whole discourse of cannabis connoisseurship whose specialist terminology matches that of the worst wine snobs," wrote Steve Beard in the Sunday Herald. "Pardon the pun—but it's a sobering thought."
Calling the book "hugely enjoyable," Times Literary Supplement contributor Antonio Melechi went on to note that "Matthews gives an intelligent insight into a culture poised at the crossroads of assimilation and protracted criminality." Writing in Library Journal, reviewer Jim Burns commented that he thought the book was too technical in some places for lay readers but praised Matthews for providing a fair account on the topic. "This is neither a glorify-the-weed article from High Times nor an anti-polemic from a neo-Nancy Reaganite," said Burns. Booklist contributor Mike Tribby praised the book, noting, "Matthews sets a new standard for serious critical writing on cannabis."
As for Matthews's personal views on cannabis, he pointed out in the book that he believes the best approach to take is to treat cannabis just like alcohol; that is, control its use with legal regulations and nonlegal social conventions. "I think it's good that cannabis should be a little taboo and not regarded as a terrifically good thing," Matthews, who admits to smoking cannabis on occasion, told Ong. "The harm done by repressing cannabis should not be greater than the harm done by cannabis. And so I'm not entirely happy with the down grade because it provides heavy penalties for dealing and cultivating which is complete nonsense. If you're going to say it isn't that terrible to smoke pot, then it shouldn't be that terrible to buy and sell." As for his own children, whom he has caught smoking cannabis, Matthews related in an article he wrote for the London Guardian, "I have tried to pass on my belief that the problems of drugs relate mainly to their misuse rather than their innate harmfulness."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 1987, Mark Knoblauch, review of Christie's Wine Companion, p. 200; August, 2000, Mike Tribby, review of Cannabis Culture: A Journey through Disputed Territory, p. 236.
Evening Standard (London, England), December 11, 2000, Andrew Jefford, "A Much Better Vintage Crop: Andrew Jefford on the Best Wine Books," p. 56.
Guardian (London, England), November 5, 2003, Patrick Matthews, "Skin Up, Dad."
Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), Joe Fattorini, review of Cannabis Culture, p. 26.
Library Journal, September 1, 2000, Jim Burns, review of Cannabis Culture, p. 236.
New York Times, October 21, 1987, Howard G. Goldberg, review of Christie's Wine Companion, p. C14.
Publishers Weekly, July 10, 2000, review of CannabisCulture, p. 57.
Punch, December 2, 1987, James Ainsworth, review of Christie's Wine Companion, p. 69.
Sunday Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), August 15, 1999, Steve Beard, review of Cannabis Culture, p. 9.
Sunday Times (London, England), December 3, 2000, Joanna Simon, review of Real Wine: The Rediscovery of Natural Winemaking, p. 47.
Times Literary Supplement (London, England), January 7, 2000, Antonio Melechi, review of Cannabis Culture, p. 9.
Wine, December 11, 2000, Andrew Jefford, review of Real Wine, p. 56.
Lock,http://thelockmagazine.co.uk/ (January 23, 2004), Rachel Ong, "The Big Smoke."