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Commentary | 1 Wine Dude

Posts Filed Under commentary

Thoughts On Thoughts On Thoughts On Influential Wine Blogs

Vinted on December 18, 2014 binned in commentary

Back in October (yeah, I really am about that far behind on things), the scientifically-minded Becca Yeamans-Irwin wrote on her blog about a research study that examined five influential English language wine blogs (including this lil’ ol’ one right here) using content analysis software called Leximancer.

As you no doubt already expected from the above run-on, complex sentence, her article caused some heated discussion regarding the merits of the study, most of which centered on what seemed like obvious conclusions one would draw from websites dedicated mostly to writing about wine (for example, regarding the website Vinography, the research conclusions included the realization that “’Flavour,’ ‘wine,’ ‘tasting,’  ‘adventures’ and other flavor-related terms were central themes of the blog.” Surprise! Not!).

Now, I’ve spent enough time in academia to know that obvious conclusions need to be treated as non-obvious, in that they still need to be formally stated and backed up by data. So my take on the research study steered clear of that criticism, but I did initially have concerns about it, which I stated in a comment on Becca’s blog post:

Two thoughts:

1) I am not clear if there is a causal relationship between the automated text analysis and the findings regarding each blog.

2) The conclusions seem like sane advice for *any* niche blog topic, rather than offering anything specific to blogging about the topic of wine.

It’s an interesting start, but I am not sure it tells us anything quite yet

I had intended to leave it at that, but since posting that comment, I’ve had a bit of a change of heart, and I think the conclusions, though somewhat generic, warrant emphasis for those who are considering (or have recently started) blogging about wine (and yes, writing that makes me feel kinda old, okay?)…

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No Wine? Sorry, No Story.

Vinted on December 9, 2014 binned in commentary

A troubling trend is starting to appear in my Inbox.

[ Editor’s note: I wonder how many cheesy detective novels now begin with that premise… ]

Somewhat ironically, the troubling trend seems to mostly be coming from very well-meaning wine producers and their various public relations arms / firms / etc., and with very well-meant intentions. But the gameplan execution is all fumbled-at-the-five-yard-line.

What’s happening is that I am seeing a lot (LOT!) more wine brands clue into the fact that what differentiates them in what has become the single most competitive wine market in the history of mankind is, in part, their stories. So far, so good.

Some of them have even clued in on the other great differentiator in a market in which we are deluged with mostly non-human, robotic, advertorial interactions: the simple act of caring enough to deal with customers and consumers as real people, and giving them the extra love inherent in good service.

What they seem to be forgetting, however, is that the price of entry in this intensely competitive marketplace that is the modern wine biz is quality. If we in the media don’t get a chance to check out the wine, we cannot answer the fundamental question of whether or not the service and story are worth getting into in the first place.

The troubling trend? I am getting inundated with requests to talk about wine brand stories, connected to wines that I’ve yet to taste. Whoops!…

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Wine’s Quiet Hypocrisy

Vinted on November 11, 2014 binned in commentary

For some reason (maybe I look trustworthy?), I’ve had a disproportionately large number of conversations with winemakers in which they divulge to me that they are upset about a myth/misunderstanding/half-truth/whatever being perpetuated by members of the wine media.

This could be things such as -

1) inaccuracies regarding long-held notions about a growing region, or

2) the supposedly (but grossly oversimplified ) poor performance of an overall vintage or a particular grape in a particular place, or

3) someone getting the historical facts about a producer’s or region’s history wrong, etc., etc., etc.

The not-so-subtle implication in those conversations is that wine media are abusing their positions of power in perpetuating these inaccuracies, misinformed opinions, and the like.

Far be it from me to disagree with these moderately-pissed-off folks. In the vast majority of cases, they have excellent points (hey, do we need yet another example of a wine from a supposedly “poor” vintage outperforming and outlasting wines from a supposedly “superior” vintage?). And they are usually much bigger than I am (even the girls).

BUT (and you knew that was coming)…

These same people (most of them, anyway) fail to see the hypocrisy in which their legitimate complaints are steeped. And as we’re about to see, those complaints are absolutely dripping in it, like a pair of feet are dripping with juice after they’ve have been stomping Port grapes in the lagares all day…

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

Vinted on October 21, 2014 binned in 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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