Posts Filed Under commentary

Professional Wine Tasters Are Full of Sh*t

Vinted on February 2, 2010 binned in commentary

Pro wine writers are among the most full of sh*t professions (statistically); so saith Cracked.com, where “Wine Tasters” make their recent list of The 6 Most Statistically Full of Sh*t Professions.

There are two things that surprised me when perusing the list of chosen six:

  1. Weather Forecasters, while predictably ranking high on the list, came in at #2 (Sportswriting took the ‘top’ spot).
  2. Wine Tasters came in only at #5 (c’mon… can’t we do better than that?!??).

Frankly, despite the lack of actual statistics in the article, I’d say that we (speaking collectively for the larger wine writing lot) actually deserve the dubious ranking.

Well, sort of.

As the reaction to my recent interview with Robin Goldstein (author of The Wine Trials, which showcases budget wines that beat out more expensive options in blind tastings) showed, the wine tasting devil is squarely in the details.  And as a group, I think that wine writers / tasters / pros, generally do a crap job when it comes to helping the public understand those details.

Not that this is a new phenomenon.  Thom Shaw once wrote “in wine tasting and wine talk there is an enormous amount of humbug.”  If you substitute “bullshit” for “humbug” you’d probably get an accurate read on the perception of wine tasting, right?

Well, ol’ Thom wrote that back in 1863.  Nearly 150 years later, it still rings as true and cuts as close to the bone of a wine writer as a Dilbert strip does to a cubicle worker – funny, but painfully funny.

So maybe we have helped to make the crow sandwich we’re supposedly having for lunch (hmmm… what pairs with crow… think I’ll pop open some Retsina…)…

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Wineries and Social Media: A Totally Unscientific Case Study (Franciscan)

Vinted on January 28, 2010 binned in commentary, wine 2.0, winemaking

A funny thing happened on my way to the 2010 Pro Wine Writers Symposium.

I did some research, and found what I was looking for, just not where I expected to find it.

Since my Symposium fellowship was underwritten by Franciscan, I’m planning on a visit to the winery when I’m in Napa next month.   So I was digging around on the ‘global interwebs’ to get my bearings on all things Franciscan before the visit.  Reasons being that I wanted to get a solid starting point of Franciscan knowledge from which to branch out when I ask them questions and generally get all, you know, in-depth on them (you know how I am); also I’m a total geek and that kind of stuff is fun for me.

Not that I am without some knowledge of Franciscan – I’ve tasted some of their flagship wines, and their website is chock full of background on their Napa legacy (and with a past that featured Agustin Huneeus and one of the first real “Meritage” wines, your bragging rights around having a ‘legacy’ are pretty safe) and their take-it-to-perfectionist-extremes focus on blending.

As for what’s happening now (and I mean, right this second) at Franciscan… not so much.  I didn’t find anything at their website to connect me to the current happenings of the people there.

Nada.

I did find some of that information, though – just not at Franciscan.com, and not without a bit of digging…

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2009’s Most Engaging Wine Blogs and Our Utter Lack of Diversity

Vinted on January 18, 2010 binned in about 1winedude blog, commentary, wine blogging

Last week, I found out that I finished in the top ten of PostRank.com’s list of the most engaging wine blogs of 2009.  PostRank’s list is based on algorithms that measure online social network reactions to blog articles.  I think, anyway – it all seems a little complicated and makes me glad that I like writing instead of math.

I’m pleased as spiked sangria punch to be sharing the top 10 list with such talented and esteemed company.

I’m less pleased at how similar we all seem to be.

As you will note from this handy inset graphic, the list is comprised almost entirely of white males (click to embiggen):

To be fair, both Decanter and Lenndevours are blogs with talented staff, not all of whom are white males.  Just the vast majority of whom are white males.

The lack of diversity is kind of odd, and sad.  I wonder if we represent the majority of wine consumers?  I doubt it, considering the studies that point to women being the driving force behind wine consumption (especially in the U.S.).

I’ll stop now as I expect to get flamed for even bringing up the topic (those of you who know me have figured out by now that I can’t help myself) and turn to the somewhat safer discussion of which 2009 1WineDude.com blog posts PostRank measured as being especially engaging.  But I’ll warn you, that this list had me scratching my head just as much as I did over the ‘white guy convention syndrone’ of the top 10 list…

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