Posts Filed Under commentary
A hearty shout-out to Randy and Kaz, the hosts of the excellent KVSY radio program and on-line podcast Wine Biz Radio, were very kind in mentioning and discussing my recent post on how to better appreciate wine despite the light-speed pace of how we consumers tend to evaluate our purchases these days. The WBR podcast also includes an in-studio interview with August Sebastiani, and a phone interview with uber-social media man Gary Vaynerchuk to discuss his best-seller book Crush It – so it’s worth a listen even if you have no interest in what they they had to say about my recent article (of course, if you have no interest in what they had to say about my recent article then I’d seriously question why you’re spending any time reading this article, but hey, it’s your time…).
The podcast is titled Leaving The Nest, in reference to the Sebastiani boys going out on their on in terms of their wine brands, but I found it eerily suitable to the short discussion that Kaz and Randy had about my post. Randy called it “the best wine blog post ever” – a bit too superlative, even for me, but I was honored and touched by the sentiment. Especially considering that I almost didn’t run the article because I felt I didn’t quite catch the vibe and continuity in it that I was aiming for – so it almost became a throwaway piece.
Leaving The Nest – that really sums up how I feel after publishing the posts on the virtual pages of 1WineDude.com, because I never really know where the conversation is going to lead after an article has gone live. And I love that. I love that I could never, ever predict a reaction like Randy’s, or the types of challenges, stories, anecdotes, questions, and insights that I consistently read from the comments made by 1WineDude readers. By people like YOU.
Honestly, it’s the dialog with you that keeps me going on this blog. That and the opportunity to drink nice wine while outlaying the smallest amount of cash possible.
I mean, I try to respond to as many comments as I can, because the main difference between wine blogging and printed wine media is the fact that no article is “finished” when it’s posted on a blog – it’s a discussion, and evolution in which you take part and in which your role is essential to teasing out the most interesting aspects. It’s an aspect that is impossible in printed media, it’s what makes blogging unique, and it turns an otherwise “finished” statement into a jazz composition – I lay out the framework, and you guys and gals add the solos, the tempo and key changes; YOU are the ones who really make it come alive.
So, whenever you get the chance this week, when you’re sipping some wine with dinner or are out at a bar with friends, let’s raise a glass together – Here’s to the opportunity to continue to make kick-ass, beautiful wine blogging music with you for a long time to come!
Meet the New Boss
Same as the Old Boss
– Pete Townshend, Won’t Get Fooled Again
I get a lot of wine samples (and no, I have not yet properly pimped out my wine storage to accommodate them all). I know that many of you (because you’ve told me) hate it when I say that, because supposedly this is some sort of wonderful problem to have. However, that position is based on two assumptions that generally are totally wrong:
- The wine samples are primarily for my enjoyment.
- The wine samples are primarily very good wine (or, alternatively, the wine samples primary purpose is to keep me intoxicated).
The fact of the matter is that neither are true (the samples are for evaluation and most of them are not ‘knock-yer-socks-off’ good), so I don’t buy the argument that I’m a dick for discussing issues I might have with keeping up with wine samples (I could buy alternative arguments for why I’m a dick, however). I’m not going to complain if a winery producing limited amounts of excellent wine sends me a sample or two, because I know that most of you (because you told me) want me to write about those wines. But, in reflection of the wine market in general, those ‘special’ wines reflect maybe 2% of the samples sent to me.
I’m telling you this because, if my sample profile is any indication, the wine market is focusing on budget/value, and targeting the general wine consumer using low price points. Common sense would suggest that, in this time of economic meltdown challenge, the focus on producing budget wine is a logical new development in the wine market.
Logical conclusion, but wrong…
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As much as social media wine wizards and millennials rail against established wine media, most of them (myself included) share with those ‘old media’ types a similar and mistake-prone approach to wine evaluation and appreciation.
And that is, the rapid-fire assessment, review, and perfunctory judgment of any given wine. We are judge, jury and executioner of the glass’ contents, often within the span of two minutes.
We see this happen all the time – in fact in some cases (like certain Twitter Taste Live events, or the “speed dating” wine blogging at the Wine Bloggers Conference), it’s encouraged and necessary. I often participate in and have grown to love those events, provided that we don’t take them too seriously.
And we shouldn’t take them seriously, at least as far as true wine appreciation is concerned. Why? Because every glass of wine, from the pedestrian to the sublime, is speaking to you, trying to tell you something about itself – you need only take the actual time to listen to it.
In the case of many wines made in the ‘Old World’ style (what my compadre Randall Grahm calls Modernist), where typicity of place and nuanced complexity are the goals, that message may be “Come back later.” New World (Postmodernist) wines usually (and probably unfairly) fare better in rapid-fire evaluation scenarios, precisely because they more often offer their treasures quickly and liberally – “Hey! Over here! I’m talkin’ to YOU!”
In a globally-connected, information-based economy like ours, we are progressively programmed with positive reinforcement to spend as little time as possible on something – in fact, we’re rewarded for doing many things at once, and the more quickly we can shove them into the same time slot, the better.
The trouble is, if you want to appreciate wine fully, you need to dump the Speed Racer + Multitasking Pro persona. Pronto…
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I have seen the future of wine criticism, wine dialog, and wine expertise.
Wanna see it? Great – go look in the mirror. Because the future wine experts look an awful lot like you. You look great, by the way – did you cut your bangs?
A little over a week ago, Slate.com ran a piece penned by Mike Steinberger in which Steinberger, among other things (like skillfully recapitulating the recent kerfluffle over code of ethics violations on the part of Robert Parker’s staff, and ending sentences with prepositions), offers a glimpse of what he sees as the future of wine writing and wine experts:
“Like other journalistic niches, wine writing is in crisis at the moment… We are moving from a monologue to a dialogue, and this reflects a fundamental truth about wine: It is a matter of taste, and taste differs from one person to the next. There’s still a need for expert opinion, but authority is going to have to be worn a lot more lightly going forward, and it isn’t going to command quite the deference that it used to.”
I know what you’re thinking: Did Joe actually use the word kerfluffle? Also, what’s the big deal about that? This post isn’t about blogging, is it?
Don’t worry, this post is not about blogging. It’s about you, and (albeit tangentially) about how Steinberger might have gotten it just a bit wrong.
You see, wine writing isn’t in a state of crisis, unless you get paid for it, in which case it’s in no more a state of crisis than any other form of paid journalism – welcome to 2009, folks. If you’re a consumer of wine information, on the other hand, then wine writing is actually in a state of liberation.
I think Steinberger is right on the money when he says that tastes are ultimately personal, and that there will still be a need for expert opinion – he’s just missing the point of where that opinion is, which is of course with YOU. That’s because YOU are the new wine expert…
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