This week, I’ve the pleasure of being the featured guest on The Wine Curmudgeon Winecast podcast.
I’ve judged with and hung out with Wine Curmudgeon founder, author, and journalist Jeff Siegel, and consider him a friend (hence my strong reaction to a recent misunderstanding about quotes from Jeff, and about his place in the wine journalist field). Jeff is good peeps, and he honestly gives a crap about the challenges faced by wine consumers today. By the way, do yourself a favor and check out his book; you won’t be disappointed.
While Jeff’s generous description of me is almost certainly incorrect (“the first wine blogger with a reach, an audience, and reputation that equaled many print writers” – I am, for sure, predated in those areas by Vinography.com, and DrVino.com, among others), Jeff’s take on what the wine biz is getting right/wrong for wine consumers is, in my view, spot-on.
You can download the podcast at http://bit.ly/1EalCvz, or listen to the embed below (browser capabilities allowing, of course). Best enjoyed, I think, at home with glass of wine in hand (and since it’s Jeff’s podcast, the wine ought to be priced at under $15 / bottle… just sayin’…).
Last week, one of the nation’s only real newspapers (the New York Times) published a little piece about the popular wine review mobile app Delectable. What I found most interesting about the article was the discussion of Delectable’s user trend data with the company’s resident wine pro, Julia Weinberg.
Here’s a look at the Delectable data as graphed by NYT:
And here’s what they had to say about wine consumption trends suggested by those data:
“…wines from the Loire Valley in France and Piedmont in Italy — again already favored among the wine pros — have become slightly more popular among regular users, while interest in the typically bolder wines of Tuscany and especially Bordeaux has fallen. Ms. Weinberg said that does not necessarily mean that drinkers are souring on Tuscany and Bordeaux but rather that they are consuming a broader array of wines. ‘It’s always a tricky question,’ she said. ‘Are these kind of higher-acid, lower-alcohol hipster wines taking over? Or is there just so much more access to a greater diversity of wines? One of the reasons why wine is so exciting these days is there’s so much more in the mix.'”
I’ve got a problem with this.
Not because I question the data, but because we have people referring to higher-acid, lower-alcohol wines as “hipster.” It’s not hipster if it’s already mainstream, folks…
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Sigh… Here we go. Again.
It seems the 100 point wine rating scale debate – and its subsequent delineation of ivory-tower criticism vs. crowd-sourced wine recommendations – has once again reared its ugly head, though since it’s a zombie topic that’s never quite dead, it doesn’t have to raise its moaning, rotting head very far to push itself back into the wine geek consciousness.
We begin with an article by my friend Jonathan Cristaldi, itself a reprise and update of a piece that was first penned and published in 2013, in which Jonathan discusses the relevance of the 100 point wine rating scale his future view of wine recommendations:
The future of wine ratings is a future of recommendations, not points or scores, from socially active wine enthusiasts and industry professionals who cultivate their own following and hold court over a sphere of influence. Experience and education imbues the passionate wine enthusiast with the kind of knowledge and confidence to entertain and communicate what is complex about wine, what is fun about wine–socially active oenophiles who post photos of labels and talk about wine in the vernacular will emerge as the collective voice for wine drinkers of the future. More and more people will learn of wine’s complexities through social engagement. Friends and confidants (trade and non-trade) will replace the lone critic and his bully pulpit. Wine drinkers will realize the power and worth of a discerning palate because of the value their friends place on such expectations.
This spurred a rebuttal by another friend of mine, Steve Heimoff, formerly of Wine Enthusiast, via his blog:
Proof? There is none. “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” the old nursery rhyme tells us. Merely wishing that individual critics will fade away, in favor of crowd-sourced opinions spread via social media, is the biggest wish-fantasy around. When Cristaldi tells us that “Friends and confidants will replace the lone wine critic,” he has absolutely no proof; no evidence supports it, except anecdotally; and even if the Baby Boomer critics, like Parker, are retiring or dying off, there is no reason to think that their places will not be taken by Millennials who just might be the future Parkers and Tanzers and Gallonis and Laubes and Wongs and, yes, Heimoffs.
Ok, folks, I cannot resist chiming in on this, so here goes…
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