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An alternative title for this article might be “Sorry, But I Gotta Be Me” or “The 2010 Wine Blog Awards Messed With My Head.”
One thing that I know about good, compelling blogging (because that’s the stuff that I like to read) is that you can’t be afraid to bare all and let readers inside of your head.
Which entre nous, if I want to take this blog up a notch (and I do), might mean making us both a little uncomfortable from time to time.
Like now, maybe. Sorry, but I gotta be me.
I’ve been thinking about the WBAs lately because the “trophy” just arrived in the mail – a very nice (and rather phallic) Riedel decanter with the WBA 2010 logo and the words “Best Overall Wine Blog – 1WineDude” etched indelibly onto the front (see inset pic and… jesus jumped-up christ, what’s with all of the gray hair on my head?!??).
Anyway… the thing is, the Wine Blog Awards did kind of mess with my head. The part that really got me into the baking-your-noodle-to-a-crisp-golden-brown territory was trying to figuring out what the award meant, in the grand scheme of things.
Some would argue “not much.” Others will tell you that it’s a bit like the Oscars with a dash of the People’s Choice Awards thrown in for good measure. Truth be told, it still makes me uncomfortable to read the description of the Best Overall Wine Blog category; I just don’t yet see 1WineDude.com as competing with the best of the best of all wine media, or advancing the genre of wine blogging significantly enough to make any real difference…
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I was recently interviewed for an article that appeared on financial management website Mint.com’s Frugal Foodie blog, titled Will Joining a Wine Club Make or Break Your Budget.
The topic (obviously) was the potential financial implications of joining a wine club, and how to find the right club without getting fleeced. This was strange one for me; although (obviously) related to wine, the only experience I have with wine clubs is (enviously) assisting other people in selecting the best ones to fit their wine goals and budgets.
That’s because I live in the Communist-wealth of Pennsylvania, whose state-run monopoly of alcohol sales and distribution essentially make joining a wine club, for me, impossible (or, at best, economically infeasible).
My basic take is that it’s probably never been easier to find good deals on a wine club. Why? For one, there’s a great deal of competition, despite the strange archaic state of U.S. alcohol shipping laws – and there are even a good number of international wine clubs cropping up. The other factor possibly fueling high competition and good deals in the wine club space is that there’s still a glut of wine inventory that has built up due to the down global economy. My guess is that people can wheel-and-deal their way to some sweet buys with those wine clubs – at least until the market picks up.
One of the key differentiators (if not THE key) between wine clubs is customer service. Given the level of competition, if a wine club isn’t willing to customize for you then it’s probably not worth giving them your hard-earned cash.
Many of you out there will have much more practical experience than I do with wine clubs. Are you a wine club member? Have you ever had to ditch a wine club? Shout it out in the comments!
In my ongoing effort to, uhm, branch out in the wine world (read: get paid), I’ve got myself involved in a couple more ‘extra-blogger’ activities that I thought I’d share. They are geared more towards beginner (I know, I hate that term too, but I can’t manage a better one) wine enthusiasts and so I didn’t feel that they were a fit for 1WineDude.com, but some readers might find them interesting (or doubtless you will know someone who might – which might buy you a day or two of respite from those folks asking you for wine advice!).
First, I’ve contributed some wine recommendations to the Fall 2010 issue of Publix® Grape Magazine. My contribution was made so many months ago that I don’t in fact remember what I wrote for them… and I don’t live in a state that has a Publix… so any of you in the Southeast U.S. who can refresh my memory, please feel free to help me out… Anyway, if you live in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, or Alabama you can subscribe to receive the magazine for free. Because, you know, free is a good price.
Second, you’ll start to see my reviews pop up on another iPhone app (also coming soon to Droid and Blackberry), Pocket Wine Assistant, in their new version. Because, you know, one can never have too much 1WD in one’s pocket, right? That, and I’m fond of over-extending myself. Anyway, more to come on that when he new version is released.
Third, I’m contributing (ongoing, this time) to a very cool on-line Philadelphia food & drink publication called Table Matters. I’ll be penning articles in the awesomely-named Planet of the Grapes section (“It’s a madhouse! A MADHOUSE!!!”), the first of which appeared last week. Table Matters is a Philly-focused publication, so I’ll be covering wines available in the Philly/PA market. Because, you know, I enjoy a challenge.
Your thoughts, as always, are welcome – including story ideas for the Table Matters column (just don’t expect a cut of my fees…).
(images: publix.com, tablematters.com, pocketwineassistant.com)
Sorry – couldn’t resist. I mean, just look at those cute, furry-cuddly, viciously-fanged mammals over there!
I mean “other badges” of wine reviews, of course – in my case, I’m the late-comer to the wine badge review par-tay masterminded by Vintank; that is, late-comer in terms of getting my badges ready for prime-time (I was part of the “wine badgers” group from the conceptual phase).
What the hell are wine badges? Essentially, they are intended to be a visual way to help you identify a wine that I think has something “special” going on, beyond the quality ‘grade’ and mini-review that I might give to a wine when reviewing it. Here’s the overview from Vintank brainiac Paul Mabray:
“As with everything the digital arena is transforming everything we used to know about wine. I am fortunate to watch a group of talented bloggers bucking tradition and judge wine on new merits by creating a whole new movement for scoring wine. It seems like a small thing, create a category for a wine that you believe in and assign a badge to it, explain the criteria openly and transparently, and only give those wines that you appreciate fit that category a badge. Simple, elegant, but more importantly a TRUE representation of the quality you admire in the categories you create. A wine fits or it doesn’t. A wine earns an accolade or it doesn’t.”
It might help to think of the badges as a cross between a score and a medal, but with more awesome. The cool thing is that the badges are already in use by Mark deVere, Ward Kadel and Steve Paulo. The badges aren’t yet standardized, which I personally think might come back to bite us in the tushie somehow, but in terms of distribution these puppies are primed for success. HelloVino, Cruvee.com, and Yourwineyourway.com are already signed-on and using the badges, which thanks to their distro. system are automatically being included in content like winery Facebook pages. We often talk about on-line technology having the potential to change things in terms of the wine world – this is an example where the potential is starting to actually be realized.
Some great discussion on the badges available so far has popped up over at Vinotology and at DrinkNectar.com, and I left a comment in the DN thread that sums up my view and vision behind the badges, so I’m reprinting it here:
“If I give a wine an A- or a B+, does that tell you much aside from my view of its quality? Not really. If I categorize a wine as ‘Elegant’ or ‘Sexy’ does that tell you much? It does – it tells you which wine to try if you want to impress someone, or in the latter case if you want to get lucky on a hot date. So, by giving a badge to wines that meet some kind of minimum standard, I’m hopefully telling people a bit more about that wine without them having to read the entire post or review or whatever (unless they are curious and want to do that). I see no conflict between the badges and scores of any kind. I see them primarily as complimentary.”
The main criterion for a wine receiving a 1WD badge is that I give it a “grade” in the B or A range; after that, if I think that they meet the criteria for a particular badge then tat wine will be “awarded” one.
So at this point you’re probably thinking “enough already, what the f—k do these badges look like?!??”
Well, my friend, read on for the badges and their explanations…
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