Posts Filed Under commentary
I’ve penned my first piece for Palate Press, the on-line wine magazine that is taking the global blog-o-world by storm!
Ok, maybe “taking by storm” is a bit of an exaggeration… until I showed up and the party could officially start, that is!
Ok, maybe the whole “the party can get started now” thing is a bit of an exaggeration as well.
Actually it’s a total exaggeration – Palate Press doesn’t need me, they’ve been kicking total ass since their launch earlier this month; I’m just a straggler who finally got around to writing something almost good enough to make a cut into the article rotation. (Since I’m friends with the editor and publisher, they probably let me slide. Just this once.)
Anyway, if you’re interested in my take on the idea of Pennsylvania’s godless, communist liquor control board to poison the economy of the good Commonwealth with wine kiosk machines that automatically dispense bottles of wine after doing some sort of personal scan that I think destroys part of your soul and drains the blood from innocent babies (hint: I’m not a fan of this plan), then head over to Palate Press and check it out!
“Who cares what wine bloggers have to say, after all?”
That question has been posed (with full negative connotation) by at least two established wine personalities as recently as a few months ago – one the most influential wine critic in the world, the other a long-standing wine writer and editor.
Well, I have a answer for them. Rather, I should say that the established media has answered their question for me.
The question should probably be amended now to read:
“Who cares what wine bloggers have to say? Aside from two of the most preeminent newspapers in the United States, I mean? Oh… wait a second… Uhmm…”
Last week, wine bloggers were quoted in both the NY Times and the L.A. Times. In the case of the NY Times, two wine bloggers were quoted, actually, in a story about a wine video blogger that was written by someone who likes to think of himself as a blogger (but to be fair is paid by NY Times so some would argue it’s not a ‘true’ blog).
I think that my feelings were summed up best by the character Sydney Fife in the comedy I Love You, Man when he cheered on his best friend at a fencing match, heckling the opponent with the timeless phrase: “Suck it, Gil!!!”
Before I get too gleeful here, I should note that I understand that our place in the wine world, as bloggers, is still small. I’m not too big for my britches just yet. But… the tide is indeed turning, and the flood is indeed coming. Detractors, no matter how well-established, can no longer tell us that the flood is not coming, because the first wave has trickled onto their floor and even their socks are soaking wet…
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Remember Internet chat rooms? Sure you do – those were the simple, on-line places where you could converse, via written text-based messages, with other seemingly like-minded folks about an endless array of topics, ranging from politics to puppy grooming. Well, converse until the person on the other end asked “Are you a chick? are you hot?”
Back in those days, I had two buddies who would frequent on-line chat rooms dedicated to topics about Wars, and strike up a group conversation. Once they thought that they’d earned the trust of the folks chatting on-line, they would say something deliberately inflammatory like “all of the Star Wars books suck!” and start a short-lived but vicious flame-war, during which they would often change sides to try to confuse the poor people who jumped into the fray. It was kind of like an all-out Star Wars chat room ballroom brawl.
Ah, the heady, youthful and poignantly ignorant days of the Internet!
Forums came next, but aren’t real-time, and in the on-line wine world the forums most closely associated with print media (eRobertParker.com and Winespectator.com) have been marred by the negative perceptions of hostility on the part of both members and moderators.
In these more recent days, the chat room and the on-line forum have been superseded. We have seen the future of on-line wine chat, and it’s full of wine twits like me.
There is a place where wineries, media, bloggers, and wine lovers are congregating to chat about wine on-line, and it’s called twitter. And if you love wine, you need to be part of this virtual community.
I’m not going to ‘explain’ twitter here. Mostly because it’s very difficult to explain twitter, and I’m lazy. Instead, I’m just going to try to convince you that if you’re not yet part of the wine community on twitter, then you need to be.
Fortunately for me, that’s actually pretty easy, because it pretty much boils down to one only reason (and even I can explain that one!)…
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I’ve always had a bit of a mixed reaction to the reports published by the Journal of Wine Economics. On the one hand, I love the fact that serious statistical attention is being given to topics like wine awards, in the hopes that scientific examination will help reveal more about how wine and consumers interact. BUT… I’ve also had to deconstruct their lead articles to highlight what I felt to be conclusions that they draw from their analysis that I felt weren’t adequately supported by their data.
Well, now it seems that the American Association of Wine Economists has gone off the deep end.
The latest issue of the JWE (Volume 4, Issue 1, Spring 2009) contains a lead-off article by Robert T. Hodgson titled An Analysis of the Concordance Among 13 U.S. Wine Competitions. After reading the nine-page analysis, I’d go so far as to say that the AAWE’s release is bordering on being totally irresponsible. In my opinion, the science of how the statistics are applied is, at best, specious, and at worst might be downright deceitful.
Heady criticism, right? Let’s get deconstructin’!
The report examines data from 13 U.S. wine competitions in 2003. Here’s a bit of excerpt from the article abstract (emphasis is mine):
“An analysis of the number of Gold medals received in multiple competitions indicates that the probability of winning a Gold medal at one competition is stochastically independent of the probability of receiving a Gold at another competition, indicating that winning a Gold medal is greatly influenced by chance alone.”
Stochastic independence is simply another way of saying that the events are not related. For example, if you roll a 5 on a die, the event of rolling a 5 on your second role are independent. In other words, a wine winning a medal in one competition doesn’t impact what it will or won’t win in another competition. Which is exactly what you’d expect from a different competition, with different judges, and competing against different wines. The problem is that none of those other conditions are detailed in the JWE report.
Ignoring the fact that 13 competitions might not be a statistically relevant sample, not detailing the other factors that would certainly impact the outcome of the wine competitions is a seriously glaring omission.
Things get worse…
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