2009’s Most Engaging Wine Blogs and Our Utter Lack of Diversity

Vinted on January 18, 2010 binned in about 1winedude blog, commentary, wine blogging

Last week, I found out that I finished in the top ten of PostRank.com’s list of the most engaging wine blogs of 2009.  PostRank’s list is based on algorithms that measure online social network reactions to blog articles.  I think, anyway – it all seems a little complicated and makes me glad that I like writing instead of math.

I’m pleased as spiked sangria punch to be sharing the top 10 list with such talented and esteemed company.

I’m less pleased at how similar we all seem to be.

As you will note from this handy inset graphic, the list is comprised almost entirely of white males (click to embiggen):

To be fair, both Decanter and Lenndevours are blogs with talented staff, not all of whom are white males.  Just the vast majority of whom are white males.

The lack of diversity is kind of odd, and sad.  I wonder if we represent the majority of wine consumers?  I doubt it, considering the studies that point to women being the driving force behind wine consumption (especially in the U.S.).

I’ll stop now as I expect to get flamed for even bringing up the topic (those of you who know me have figured out by now that I can’t help myself) and turn to the somewhat safer discussion of which 2009 1WineDude.com blog posts PostRank measured as being especially engaging.  But I’ll warn you, that this list had me scratching my head just as much as I did over the ‘white guy convention syndrone’ of the top 10 list…

Some of these I can understand – numbers 2, 3, 6, 7, 10 especially; lots of chatter on the global interwebs on those, and some great, great discussions in the blog comments from all of you.  But… #3 consisted entirely of a picture of my daughter screaming her head off while visiting a mall Santa Claus (he was an awesome looking Santa, but still…).

And #1?  My take on a free publication about Spanish wines was #1?!??  WTF???

Oh well.  I’ll stick to writing and stop trying to analyze the engagement math.  I’m not complaining about PostRank here – they have an awesome service and I regularly check their report on my site to see how much discussion is happening “off blog world” – I’m just saying that I don’t totally understand the results.

Maybe I should just try writing about free wine books more often?






  • Sasha

    As a newish wine blogger (and former Lenndevours contributor) who is 1)a woman and 2)half Puerto Rican, I'm interested in this issue. You wonder if the top bloggers are representative of the majority of American wine consumers…of course you're not. But not just because you're white. Everyone on this list (and me, come to think of it) is vastly more knowledgeable, has more access to a much wider variety of wines, and is willing to spend more money on a bottle of wine, than the average wine consumer. The top wine bloggers are representative of a certain very very small subset of American wine drinkers–a subset that is, by and large, populated by white men.
    Bit by bit, though, I think that's changing. As someone who's about making wine more accessible to the average wine consumer through my blog and my classes, I can say that anecdotally, women take more quickly to learning how to taste wine and are more comfortable and adept at expressing their observations. They're also more likely to think about wine and food together, rather than wine for its own sake. Nothing against white men – some of my best friends are white men. (In fact, I'm married to one.) But this is something I see over and over again.
    I'd love to see this top 10 be more diverse (and of course, would love to break into it!) But keep in mind that blogging is but one part of the overall wine media landscape. Jancis Robinson, anyone?

    • Jim Murphy

      I just added you to the Wine PostRank Topic so you are one step closer to breaking in!


      Anyone can edit the list. Consider it the wikipedia of wine lists.


      • Sasha

        Sweet! Thanks! On my way to wine world domination…

        • 1WineDude

          Go get 'em!

    • Wee Ree Boy

      Well Said Sasha…wow….you are really out on the edge…stay there and push to move toward the middle. Excellent.

  • 1WineDude

    Thanks, Sasha! I think whether or not you realize it, you're a pioneer right now.

  • Serge Lozach

    Maybe more white guys just like to hear the sound of thier own opinions Just sayin…

  • 1WineDude

    HA! Good one (and soooo true)!

  • @thewinegal_net

    Congratulations on your #7 ranking – impressive! I can appreciate your nod to lack of diversity. Although I'm by no means an expert, it has been my observation that the wine profession, particularly in the critique of wine, has been dominated by white males for decades. Master Sommeliers across the globe for example are primarily white males, so it's not surprising that those who blog about it are also in this category. In reading Sasha's comment, I too agree that this trend is changing, in gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic backgrounds. I think as wine becomes more "user-friendly" in terms of understanding via blogs, classes, education, price points, etc, we'll see more diversity within writers and experts in the field.

    • 1WineDude


      I'm not sure it's the user-friendliness / accessibility of wine that keeps it from having public experts that are more representative of minority consumer groups. I wonder if, having been a white boys club for so long in terms of wine's "experts", if that has been a bit of a turn-off for minority groups to pursue more public expertise (blogs, MW candidates, certifications, etc.) when it comes to wine?

  • @thewinegal_net

    Intimidating for sure – it's humbling to publicly declare your opinion as a newly minted "expert" when you're faced with a sea of predecessors whose knowledge goes back a ways, and especially when those experts don't look like you. Thank goodness that's changing and thank goodness for peeps who don't give a rip about the formality of expressing wine opinions.

    • 1WineDude

      I agree – I think with the changes we're seeing now, the time is getting riper to get a more diverse group expressing their wine opinions. I'm hoping it happens sooner rather than later.

  • Toddvino

    the italianwinereport.com is published by an African American male.

  • Melanie Baker

    What if you got your daughter to write about free Spanish wine publications? She's not a white guy. Instant diversity! :)

    At least the range of the top posts was within a few hundred points. It might have been a bit weirder if the Santa picture, for example, outperformed by an order of magnitude.

    I was also really interested to see who'd score top blog in our wine category, since it's a topic where the #1 spot changed often and the wine folks were so good-naturedly competitive. :)

    In any case my congratulations, and a toast to you, on your top 10 finish (lingering, with notes of black fruit and wet dog…)

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks! It's great to see the friendly (and it is mostly friendly!) competition happening, especially since it shows that we have passionate audiences.

  • Sasha

    Agreed — not sure it's a question of accessibility or user-friendliness. Some of it is cultural. In my case I can say that there isn't necessarily a huge tradition of, say, matching Puerto Rican cuisine with wine. (Although there are, of course, delicious pairings to be made.) If you hear people talk about their early, transformative experiences with wine, they often mention that, say, their dad made wine or they always had wine at dinner at home. (I'd venture to say that, at least in the Northeast where I live, there are a huge number of Italian-Americans in the wine business. Not a coincidence.)
    As for the woman thing, there is also a strain of wine culture that is obsessively focused on vintages, points, collecting, and acquisitiveness. By and large, I think men find this approach more interesting than women do.

    • 1WineDude

      Ah, the old sports stats analogy! :-).

      You're probably onto something with both of those insights. I'd also offer that although I'm an Italian-American male, my family wasn't into wine in any way and comparatively I was a really late bloomer when it came to wine appreciation.

  • Steve Heimoff

    This is my favorite 1WineDude post of all time simply for introducing me to the word "embiggen." To paraphrase FDR to Churchill, it is fun to be on same list as you.

  • Kimberly

    Great dialogue on this topic! As a woman, I've often lamented the fact that there seem to be way fewer female "stars" in the mainstream wine world than male ones. But I do think women are making some headway in other areas. I mean, sure, look at the Wine Spectator monthly columnists, for example, and how many women are there? But women writing wine blogs, now, those you can find, though there seem to be fewer female "stars" in that area than there are men doing the same thing. And there are none on your list above, of course! I think it's troubling. In fact, I'm getting depressed just writing this. But hey, look on the bright side, what about all the great female winemakers, like Helen Turley, and Susanna Balbo, and so many others?

    • 1WineDude

      I think there's an opportunity for a female wine blogger to burst into the limelight here…

  • Kimberly

    Hmm, I was thinking about it, and I really dislike making gender generalizations, and I don't know if this is even related to why there are no women on the list above, but I do know that no woman ever comes into the wine store where I work acting like an arrogant tool about wine they want to purchase, whereas men often do. It's just the truth. Women are, in general, way more apt to take suggestions and ask lots of questions, whereas often with the male customers, you can tell right off they already think they know way, way more than any of us female employees who may be helping them. And don't even think about suggesting some interesting, non-mainstream wine, when what they are shopping for is often all about the prestigious label, so they can show off their good taste. Women customers simply don't behave that way.
    OK, I'm going to stop. I believe I've derailed. : )

    • 1WineDude

      Well, I'll add to the slightly inappropriate generalizations and say that when I run into a woman who has deep wine knowledge, I invariably then find her totally hot!

  • Sasha

    Yep, that's what I meant about Jancis — she's one of the most influential people in wine media (and my favorite…second only to Lenn, of course), but largely wields her influence outside of her blog.
    Kimberly, totally agree with you re: wine stores. Have worked in 4 different wine stores in 2 states and the biggest tools were always men. Not to say that there weren't difficult female customers, and of course many delightful, curious, kind male customers, but yep, at least 80% of the major d-bags were guys. Also agree with you that things are changing for women, particularly in the rarefied world of Masters of Wine. 3 of the 8 latest MWs are women, and, according to a post a few months ago from my girl Jancis, two of these women took nearly all of the awards and honors.

    • 1WineDude

      I think it's just that there are more guys buying wine at the shops, therefore the male d-bag % seems higher… at least, I'm gonna keep telling myself that until I feel better! :-)

    • Kimberly

      Yep, Sasha, you're right — there are difficult female customers as well. And yes, also, kind, curious and open-to-suggestions and question-asking male customers, definitely. And they are great! I helped one just the other day. It's just that when I think of the most challenging customers I've had in the last few months, well, darn it, unfortunately, they've all been men. But hey, men are great! I love 'em! I just wish that more of them that shop where I work were less focused on mainstream labels (read: how good is bringing this wine going to make me look at the dinner party I'm going to), and more focused on what's in the bottle. But hey, it's their dough, they can spend it how they want to! : )

  • 1WineDude

    Thinking about the Jancis Robinson example a bit more, I think she basically isn't a blogger per se – her website is really an online wine magazine alternative. Having said that, she rules and her engagement (by way of the forums on her website) is totally off the charts.

  • @girlwithaglass

    There are lots of stars that are female in the blogosphere. I'm not sure if women like rankings much, we're a cooperative rather then competitive bunch according to my women studies work in college. Interesting post!

    • 1winedude5036

      Thanks – and yet another way in which women are smarter than men… as if we needed any more… :-)

  • Amy Atwood

    It clearly is not indicative of wine consumer demographics since they all show that at least 65% of wine is purchased by women. But I think men like to talk and argue about their 'toys' more than women.

    • 1WineDude

      No argument there.

      Wait, did I just break the stereotype? :-)

  • Mike

    Pure comedy here. Love this blog. I wouldn't worry about White Guy syndrome, chances are there are plenty of other cultured people that read your blog, but don't have a blog of their own. Plenty of femles responding here, thats for sure. :-)

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