Archive for August, 2008
By now, many of you will already have heard about the controversy surrounding Wine Spectator’s restaurant awards that unfolded into the mainstream media this week.
This topic is getting about as visible a media treatment as the wine world ever gets, so I won’t rehash the complete story here. To get us all up to speed and on the same page, the sequence of events goes something like this (in the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, “Let me explain. No – is not time; lemme sum up!”):
Regardless of which side of this issue you stand, if you’re like me you’re probably scratching your head as to why WS chose an on-line forum post as the, well, forum to use for publishing their defense of the Restaurant Awards process. Especially considering that this event is all over the news right now.
The problem with this approach is that the WS forum is full of “trolls,” and has become a hotbed of negativity.
I can vouch for this personally…
In my attempts to open a discource with the editors of WS (to better understand why their initial response did not include any details regarding if/how the Awards process would be examined to ensure it maintains credibility), I had to go to the WS forums. After all, that’s where the WS editors posted their response in the first place.
I (and other wine bloggers) have been greeted there with a negativity unbecoming of a long-running institution such as WS. While the editors, for the most part, have been civil in their responses, some of the forum members have been downright nasty. I’ve had to endure blogging being dismissed as “lazy journalism,” and having my SWE and CSW credentials called fakes. Little (if any) moderation seems to be taking place in the forum at the moment, and new forum members are told to “STFU” and “go away.” Even senior WS editor James Suckling seemed to get into negative mode when addressing particularly vehement criticism on the forum.
Of course, not all of the forum members are acting in a negative way, but enough are being malicious to prevent an appropriate discourse with the WS editors. When I asked the forum members why new posters were greeted with that level of negativity, I was told it’s the equivalent of “initiation.”
Hazing is more like it.
Here’s my simple plea to the editors of WS:
If you’re going to allow your on-line forums to be the equivalent of a shark tank, then please put your response to Goldstein’s criticism into the hands of a PR director, where it belongs. Otherwise, those of us looking for constructive, open discourse on the topic of WS’ restaurant awards have nowhere to turn.
As long as your on-line forum remains the primary vehicle for your response to the Goldstein event, you will be promoting the impression that you are not taking the matter seriously.
It’s not events like this that make or break your credibility; it’s your response to events like this that make it or break it.
Teikoku Restaurant, sitting just outside Philadelphia, is fast becoming my favorite dining spot in the known Universe.
I’m not a food reviewer, so I’m not going to try to do justice to the stellar dishes they whipped up for their last food & wine tasting event.
I will, however, tell you about the wines that Heather Wright (wine educator and consultant from Cellar Door Imports) chose for the event, since they’re all great budget-minded picks for your next Asian food dining sojourn:
08 Arabella Sauvignon Blanc (W. Cape, SA): Tropical fruit dominates even over the acidity. Bit too much bod for lil’ ol’ me but it’s cheap!
07 Banyan Gewurztraminer (Monterey County, CA): Somehow it’s 1D despite lychee, lime, rose petal, & melon. Still, hard to beat for the price
07 Banyan Viognier Madera (CA): Fat & oily, with a crazy banana nose that’s all over the place. Not “pure” by any stretch – but damn fun!
07 Hyatt Chardonnay (Rattlesnake Hills, WA): Vanilla syrup & pears, good balance, but a tad astringent on the finish. Decent pick, nice $.
06 Hobo Zinfandel (Dry Creek Valley, CA): Ripe as hell but red berries, licorice, & pepper keep things interesting. Good pick for BBQ beef.
If you’re in the Philly area and want to join in the next Teikoku wine event, details are below…
Tuesday, September 23 2008 Teikoku Restaurant
5492 West Chester Pike
Newtown Square, PA 19073
Michael Walsh, Wine Educator,
will showcase five of California’s most celebrated wine growing regions,
along with the innovative food pairings from Chef Takao Iinuma to complement them!
For reservations, contact Christine Olmsted @ 610-644-8270.
And finally, from the “Damn, wish I had a tech support staff!” Department: I’m way sorry for the lack of video feed from last night’s live twitter tasting. It worked when we tested it several times earlier in the week, but at show time there was no sound. Since we were right in the thick of the event kick-off, I decided to abandon video rather than try to address it then and there (which would have been a big distraction during the tasting – not to mention during my dinner!). I’ll make sure it’s working before the next event!
Asking me what wine mags to read is sort of like asking me what television shows are worth watching. I access them so infrequently, that I’m in danger of being totally irrelevant in my commentary.
But what the hell, it’s never stopped me before!
I also get bored easily, so committing to reading an entire magazine or watching an entire TV show in one sitting doesn’t always appeal to me (though longer formats, like books and movies, are no problem; oh, the irony…). Plus, I can’t stand obnoxious advertisements, and I swear I can actually feel my brain cells dying just watching a few seconds of most TV commercials.
And if there are brain cells that need a-killin’, I prefer to do that via the consumption of tasty vino!
Anyway, here are two of my quick picks in the Wine Mag. department…:
Best Traditional Mag: Wine & Spirits Magazine
Is it snooty? Sure, it’s snooty – but it’s well-written, award-winning snooty. Despite it’s title being a bit of a misnomer (Spirits are often relegated to just one page), it’s a useful mag. in that it offers good, terse commentary on the wines that it reviews.
The often highlight good wine dining picks as well, along with features on up & coming wine directors / sommeliers – which can be handy when you’re traveling and looking for some excellent wine-related eats.
Most importantly, they also devotes special focus to value picks, which is the category where the vast majority of wine lovers are looking for help and recommendations.
Most Promising Up-&-Comer: Mutineer Magazine
Is it smarmy? Sure, it’s smarmy, in the same way that MAXIM is a bit too pleased with itself – a style appreciated most by 20-somethings who don’t know any better, but also appealing to 30-somethings who do know better, but don’t care anyway and can therefore appreciate the small touches of irony sprinkled throughout the articles.
I asked Alan Kropf, Mutineer’s Editor, about their mission: “I started the Mutineer to try and create a way for unexperienced drinkers to experience the world of fine beverage. A lot of people get frustrated with wine being so stuffy, so we saw an opportunity for a magazine like Mutineer Magazine to come about.“
Lots of wine bloggers will find solidarity in that, since it’s the reason many of us decided to start blogging in the first place.
And I can seriously dig that.
The next superfunkadelic and ultra-exciting twitter LIVE Tasting Event is nigh upon us!
On Thursday at 7PM ET, I and my cadre of Philly-area wine geeks (henceforth to be called the 1WDP – or 1WineDude Posse) will be tasting what looks to be some stellar wines from Alsace stalwart Hugel & Fils, LIVE via twitter. Hit up BinEndsWine.com for the details on how YOU can join up for this event!
What’s more, the 1WDP will also be video broadcasting the event LIVE, so you will get to see things like a) just how smarmy my wine geek friends are, b) how short I really am, c) what my kitchen looks like, complete with the way cool Wire Chicken, d) how I look and fail at typing as I get progressively more and more inebriated!
To witness the madness, just come back to this post and view the embedded video herein. If you dare!
UPDATE: If you are joining us for the tasting event, head over to this link and register your bad self so everyone else participating follows you on twitter!
Speaking of the twitter tasting event, last week I hosted a giveaway for anyone leaving a comment to suggest what food to serve with all of that great Alsace wine during the twitter tasting event. Thanks to all those who participated – I also want to commend you for suggesting so many dishes that made me drool. You can check out the stellar suggestions here.
With the help of my dog (don’t ask), I randomly selected two winners from those who submitted comments… and there are…
First Prize (1WD T-shirt): Bradley Cooper!
Second Prize (1WD eBoook): Bloviatrix!
Congrats! I will be contacting each of you to deliver the goods.
See you (or, rather, you may see me) on Thursday!