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This Is Me Totally NOT Lightening Up On Wine And Social Media

Vinted on March 7, 2012 binned in best of, going pro, wine 2.0

Actually, it’s not social media and wine that I’m going to be talking about here – it’s social media and engagement. Engagement with actual people who actually spend their actual hard-earned cash for the purpose of drinking actual wine…

It’s taken a while for me to respond to this plea for me to lighten up when it comes to social media’s place in the wine world. The delay is mostly due to me having been on the road, and otherwise waiting for the Universe to present a pertinent example of what I was talking about (it didn’t take long – more on that in a minute or two).

I’m not lightening up. If anything, I think we all should be making more of a fuss over this stuff, not less.

The best responses I can give to any challenge on the power of engagement in the wine world come from my own experiences. So let me talk to wine producers directly here for a minute or two (…or fifty), and share some of those experiences with them. It will sound harsh at times, but that’s because I keep hearing arguments that are the equivalent of telling me that my experiences didn’t happen, and I’m not a psychotic (at least, not yet) so there’s definitely something a bit screwed up here. And most of what I’m saying is not unique – it’s been said by others, I’m just culling many of the points together.

For those that don’t want to wade through the damn-near 1800 words that follow, the bottom line is this: if you are producing wine, and in this day and age you are letting someone like me (or any critic) dictate the majority of your brand message to current and potential customers in online engagement channels (twitter, facebook, etc.), then you need to audition for a Jim Henson Company project, because you’re acting like a Muppet

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Meet Playboy.com’s New Dot Com Wine Dude

Yep. Really.

I’m crazy excited to tell you that I will soon be authoring a freelance wine column on Playboy.com.

So now you have some legitimacy behind the “I’m just going there for the articles, honey!” excuse (you’re welcome!).

The folks behind Playboy.com reached out to me many moons ago, and the whole thing has been even many more moons in the making, so I’m thrilled to be able to get started – and humbled and honored by the opportunity to work with such an amazing brand. I don’t know how long this gig will last, and the column doesn’t have an official name yet (please shout out your ideas in the comments – I’ve got a feeling those will be very entertaining!), but we have some great ideas for content, which naturally will be exploring the more sensual sides of wine.

Now, I’ve never featured beautiful nude women on 1WineDude.com (though I’ve come close!), but I suppose you could say that there’s a bit of “spiritual alignment” in my writing style and the serious-but-accessible-and-slightly-irreverent take on the subject of wine that Playboy.com was looking for. To me, it’s a bit like Forbes.com bringing on Jeff Lefevre’s smart, analytical writing style, or how the populist, grounded voice of Vinography’s Alder Yarrow fits in so well with JancisRobinson.com. So you can add one more name to the list of home-grown wine bloggers being tapped by long-standing on-line brands.

There are a few things you probably should know about this Playboy.com gig…

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Stop Hating On Pinotage, Already

Vinted on January 19, 2012 binned in best of, commentary, overachiever wines, wine review

Seriously. Stop hating on Pinotage.

Why? Because there’s nothing “wrong” with it.

I am here today to tell you that Pinotage is not bad; it is simply different. And if you don’t like this oft-maligned but more-oft-misunderstood South African cross between Pinot noir and Cinsaut, that’s your prerogative. Just stop drinking it and shut about it, already, then. I mean, Pinotage has some high-profile wine critics who are haters right now – for Pete’s sake, Lettie Teague expresses disdain for it on her friggin’ homepage.

Yes, the worst of them (Pinotages, I mean, not wine critics) smell too much like overly-aged smoked meat wrapped in bananas and dipped into a vat of acetone that’s being bioled over a tire fire. I fully acknowledge that, okay?

But riddle me this, Wine Man: what bargain-basement version of any variety doesn’t have its fair share of sh*tty-tasting bottlings? Ever had really bad Cab? Terrible Pinot? Of course you have. Pinotage is no different than any other fine wine grape (yes, I meant to put the “fine” part in there), in that bad fruit in incapable winemaking hands results in a terrible wine, overemphasizing the worst qualities of any grape. It just so happens that Pinotage has more ammunition with which to work than most in the off-odors department.

That doesn’t mean that Pinotage cannot be beguiling when the right fruit gets into the right winemaking hands. It just means that there’s a little more of a deft balancing act to be attained when dealing with Pinotage.

But I know it can be done, and done well, because I’ve tasted some first-hand…

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The Top 10 Most Popular 1WineDude.com Articles Of 2011

Vinted on December 21, 2011 binned in best of

“…and even if he’s a lazy man, and the Dude was certainly that – quite possibly the laziest in Los Angeles County… which would place him high in the runnin’ for laziest worldwide…

The Stranger, from The Big Lebowski

Yes, this is a lazy post. But while it certainly qualifies for being labeled as lazy, some interesting insights can be gleaned from it so I’d challenge those who’d also try it qualify it as lacking any value. Note that I didn’t say it delivers a lot of value, just that it doesn’t lack for any value. Aw, f*ck, why am I doing this to myself again? Just deal with it, I need a break after putting together the last top ten list (which was a butt-load of work).

What am I blathering about? I’ll tell you what I’m blathering about, man! I’m gonna give you another annual top ten list – this time, it’s the top ten most popular 1WD articles of the year.

In the 2010 incarnation of this list, I mused that a) 1WD readers love wine topic controversy, and b) I would no longer be able to use the 2010 method of determining the most popular articles (counting comments) again. And both pieces of dime-store philosophizing insight proved to be true in 2011. Controversy in the wine world was, once again, no stranger to these virtual pages, and it got your collective wine geek blood pumping – particularly when it came to the uber-geeky topics of wine yeasts, how wine critics rate (or don’t rate!) the wines that they taste, and the always-religious-level-debate-inducing debate around Biodynamics.

In terms of measuring engagement, the days of folks dropping in with a quick comment to say “nice job” are now far behind us; those thumbs up are now given as re-tweets and/or Facebook “Likes” (which I think we should also be doing for wines themselves, but that’s another story entirely…). So instead of counting comments as in previous years, I opted to have PostRank.com report back what it thought were the most engaging 1WD articles of the year, since their calculation appears to take into account comments and social media reach through sharing on platforms such as twitter. It’s NOT perfect, as it misses key metrics such as video views (which surely would have put my video interviews with rocker Les Claypool and social media maven Gary Vaynerchuk at the top of the list), and because of a three-way tie at the #9 spot, there are actually 12 posts listed and not 10; but it’s got more positives than negatives so let’s go with it.

I’ve excluded giveaways requiring comments for reasons that should be obvious (if they’re not, just keep drinking!). And as in previous years, the list doesn’t really include the articles I consider my personal faves from 2011 – but the list isn’t about me, it’s about you. And for those just recently tuning into 1WD, this is as good a way as any to catch up on the content that stirred the most discussion during the past twelve months.

And so… here they are…!

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