Posts Filed Under best of

Think Wine Criticism Is B.S.? Then You Need To Reject All Forms Of Criticism

Vinted on October 21, 2014 binned in best of, commentary

Every once in a while, when I tell people what I do for a living, I get a sort of snickering question along the lines of “does it bother you that part of what you do is total bullsh*t?”

These folks are usually referring to the studies, quoted by lazy media outlets ad nauseum, that purportedly debunked wine tasting as bull honkey when “expert” wine folk were given white wines with red food coloring and tricked into thinking that they were tasting red wines.

But what those snickering folks fail to realize is that wine criticism and professional wine tasting are no different than every other form of experiential criticism – movie reviewing, restaurant critiquing, you name it – in that they are the attempts of fallible humans to garner expertise and disperse helpful opinions to the best of their abilities while trying to overcome the ingrained perception wiring that helped us evolutionarily, but hinder us when it comes to consistent, robot-like precision.

To wit: my friend Alder Yarrow recently blogged about a study featured in the New Yorker, in which participants were tricked into thinking that fake tongues were their own, taste perceptions and all. Yes, seriously. Read it, the results and implications are fascinating.

I doubt we’ll see much lazy media attention on this study, however, because it would logically require those same lazy media to start asking people like Alder and me what wines pair best with crow sandwich…

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Reader Mailbag: Trying New Wine Is A Pain In The Ass

Vinted on October 9, 2014 binned in best of, commentary, wine appreciation

1WD reader Matt (that’s all your getting, as I don’t have permission to print the person’s full name here) recently wrote to me via an email with a title so intriguing, it sparked the first-ever “reader mailbag” style post on this site in its seven-some-odd-year history:

“Trying New Wine Is A Pain In The Ass”

There’s much juiciness to be squeezed from Matt’s email, so I’ll first reprint it here before addressing Matt’s questions in detail:

“Let me rephrase that… Trying new *quality* wine is a pain in the ass, literally in the wallet. Its all a gamble really and I’d bet that the average person, let alone the active wine drinker wants to bet on a $50 bottle. We are not all in your position where nice wines may be shipped to us for tasting purposes in hopes that you blog about it.

So… My reason for contact is this. Today I read the article, ‘Wine execs are scared of the craft beer and spirits growth.’ You probably read it since its well circulated. Following the gambling terminology, beer and spirits have a relatively low buy-in. If that bet pays off and I like it, then I can opt for the higher price points. Quality wine, on the other hand, does not have this low cost of buy-in. It’s all or nothing and if you get burned once, then you will likely never go all-in on a 50+ bottle again.

I’m curious, do you have any opinions on opportunities of low buy-in options for higher priced wines? The tasting room is the only opportunity I can think of and that is not exactly mass market. When exactly does the average person opt for that $50 bottle cab? marketing fluff? friends advice? impressing the boss? Do wine drinkers randomly buy expensive wines that they have never had before? If not, when are they exposed to them that creates a buying opportunity? I’d love to hear your comments and what your readers may think. I’ve never met a wine I didn’t like… to try. Thanks Joe! Matt.”

Talk about food (or drink?) for thought! And Matt seems to want to hear your responses to all of this as well, so it’s giving us a nice opportunity to argue in the best internecine fashion that is the hallmark of modern wine discourse!

Well, Matt, following are my responses. I hope you don’t mind the delay, I just wanted to share the dialog with a (much) wider audience!…

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The Wine Blogging Community Is A Joke, Part Two

Vinted on August 28, 2014 binned in best of, commentary

Back at the beginning of August, we generated a bit of controversy here (imagine that!) with my rant commentary on wine blogging, titled The Wine Blogging Community Is A Joke (But It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way). C’mon, with a nice, restrained title like that, who would’ve anticipated controversy?…

Much commenting, sharing, linking, and discussion then ensued.

I received an email from a friend of mine who is a journalist (we’ll call her “Elle Bee” for now, as she prefers to remain anonymous), spurred on by that comment storm discussion. In it, she reminded me of something very important that is at the heart of the wine blogging community’s sense of… well… community, and that didn’t really get addressed in detail in my original post or the comments that followed.

The important thing of which her email reminded me is that, individually, as wine bloggers, we have to represent. Like it or not, every one of us is, to the traditional journalist world, and to wine consumers at large who are not creating content about wine themselves, a representative of the entire wine blogging cadre. In other words, you (yes, you) for all intents and purposes are wine blogging.

Don’t like it? Tough noogies. That’s the stage at which wine blogging finds itself. If you want something more for your wine blog, or from wine logging in general, and if you take the wine blogging community seriously and want to see it increase its reach and influence, then please carefully read Elle Bee’s commentary below.

What follows is well-written, cogently-stated “part duex” to the wine blogging community discussion, and is another wake up call to those of us who want to see that community succeed and take things to the next level…

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The Wine Blogging Community Is A Joke (But It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way)

Vinted on August 5, 2014 binned in best of, commentary

During the recent Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Barbara, I performed one of the more self-serving actions of my entire life (and that’s saying something, right there). During Corbett Barr’s keynote speech, I clapped deliberately and loudly when Barr told the conference-goers that the wine blogging community needs to do more to work together and foster community. A few seconds of my obnoxious clapping got (more or less) the entire room applauding Barr’s astute comment.

I label that as self-serving because Barr and I spent over an hour on the phone together prior to WBC14, discussing the current state of wine blogging, during which I pressed hard on the fact that too many wine bloggers view themselves as someone apart from the wine blogging community, and, like their wine print brethren, are too competitive and catty and need to share more in rising-tide-lifts-all-boats fashion.

I fear that, based on the blogging about WBC14 that has transpired since that speech, that much of Barr’s wisdom fell on some deaf ears. While we’ve seen a handful of well-reasoned WBC14 criticism and balanced debate about topics such as the conference’s Wine Writers Workshop session, we’ve seen a bit more carping about the conference not meeting expectations, and/or the speakers being too old, too white, too print, too out of touch, too whatever.

WTF?!?? Are you people out of your minds?!???

Folks, if you’re blogging about wine and want to wine blogging to be taken more seriously, then let me tell you something about the state of your writing, and your approach to the wine blogging community: It’s a joke

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