Posts Filed Under going pro
IntoWine.com recently (at least I think it was recently, as their posts for reasons unknown to me aren’t dated) ran an interview with SF Chronicle wine editor Jon Bonné (long-time readers will recall that roughly a year ago I was on a panel about writing better opinion pieces with Jon and the Wall Street Journal’s Lettie Teague, both of whom probably still in therapy trying to get over my inclusion; I’m kidding… I think…).
I’m not here today to dissect Jon’s responses (many of which ring true for me, and are worth a read because he’s a very, very intelligent guy), but one answer he gave to the IntoWine folks struck me as a bit odd. To the tape (emphasis is mine):
“The average consumer still feels intimidated by wine and wine-speak. Are publications like the Chronicle partly responsible for the prevalent feeling among consumers that wine is somehow beyond their comprehension?
If we’re going point fingers at the idea that wine is pretentious, let’s start with the spread of overpriced, mass-produced wine sold as an aspirational luxury. I’ll borrow a phrase from a conversation with a fellow writer a few days ago: You write up to your audience, not down. If sportswriters had to explain a two-point conversion every time they mentioned it, we’d all die of boredom. That’s not an excuse to fall into jargon. But there is no shortage of amateur wine criticism out there that doesn’t contribute to the conversation.”
The trouble for me is that I’ve got no idea what conversation Jon is talking about in that response.
It might be that there is a hidden wine conversation, one available only to a Romanée-Conti-sipping secret society of critics with wine review superpowers like UV vision that can detect the exact number of Brett, fruit, and mushroom particles floating around in a glass of Burgundy and determine at a glance if they are at an appropriate level. A secret society that meets in an underground lair at an undisclosed location (guarded by pools of sharks with lazer beams attached to their heads) and through joint nefarious consensus determines what wines will get the really high scores this year.
The bottom line is that this secret society might as well also be made up of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, because the real wine conversation is actually the one that the amateur critics are having. Or, I should say, it’s the thousands of real and virtual “water-cooler” conversations that the amateurs are having every day, all over the world…
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I’m very happy to tell you that I’ll be providing the weekly wine Quiz in The Juice newsletter, a customizable update on wine events distributed by the venerable LocalWineEvents.com.
The first month’s quizzes will focus on trivia about Champagne, in the hopes that it will help lighten the serious hangover that the stuff gave you during your libation-filled New Year’s Eve celebrations.
I’ve long admired LWE founder & CEO Eric Orange (and not just because he’s a local PA guy!), and was a subscriber to The Juice back when 1WineDude.com was just a twinkle in my Riedel stemware. So I’m excited to be helping him out, and I’m very much looking forward to all the flaming I will get from The Juice readers telling me that my Quiz answers are actually all wrong interacting with The Juice faithful!
If you’re not a subscriber to The Juice, then you’re missing out – it’s one of the best ways to zero-in on wine events happening in your area, or wherever your travels might be taking you during any given week; and the website and newsletter have become invaluable resources on wine happenings for hundreds of thousands of wine geeks across the world. So, go sign up already!
I’ve not finalized the Quiz themes going forward, so if you’ve got great ideas for topics/themes on which to focus for future editions of The Juice, please shout ‘em out!
As of the end of this week, I’m unemployed!
Well, unemployed in the traditional sense, anyway.
Those of you who’ve been following along with my (now well-protracted) endeavor to Go Pro in the wine biz are probably (and not without good reason) rolling your eyes and muttering “finally… it’s about time…” It only took me a year longer than originally planned to cut the cord (hey, it was their idea to keep extending me).
Nearly 15 years (that’s 14++* years in Wine Advocate math, I think) behind me at the same company… holy crap, that was a long time of not really fitting in (the pay made up for it, as did the people and great opportunities).
It’s become a bit of a tradition at my soon-to-be-former day job to send farewell email messages, and so I decided (after consultation with a few people at the DJ that I trust deeply) to author one of my own. I’m sharing an excerpt of that letter with you below, with the only modification being removal of some contact details and the company name.
On the surface, this has nothing whatsoever to do with wine, of course. So why am I sharing it? I’m not sure, actually.
Probably because so many of you out there feel like friends and family to me, even though many of us have never met face-to-face; and so I don’t mind telling you that the note was cathartic and helped to slow down the near-constant swing of my current emotional pendulum (which happens to be oscillating with vomit-inducing speed between he extremes of pure elation at chasing my dream, and sheer terror at facing the road-much-less-traveled) – and that the lessons-learned I described in that DJ farewell note have everything to do with how I approach the wine world.
That, and it feels more original than giving you a list of sparkling wine recommendations for New Year’s Eve (here’s some quick advice – go with the real-deal and pop open some Champagne… you know, the stuff actually from Champagne… in France)…
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Since causing a minor sh*t-storm on Facebook a week ago when I lamented publicly about bad wine PR folks wanting me to “guarantee” reviews of their clients’ wine samples (with responses ranging from “cut them some slack, they have a difficult job” to “screw ‘em, they’re all idiots), I’ve gotten to thinking about the whole delicate relationship balance between media and PR, and have come to the following conclusion.
I have two words for 90% of all the winery and wine-brand PR folks with whom I deal on a fairly regular basis: THANK YOU.
Seriously. Thank you. You deserve my thanks because most of you are totally awesome. You are totally awesome because you’ve actually read the long-policy that I have regarding samples, press trips, and the like, you are true professionals in the best senses of the word, and some of you I actually now count among my friends, as in people I’d have a glass of vino with even if you weren’t trying to sell me on your brands. You are awesome because you cultivate a real, honest-to-goodness relationship with me, trying to get me samples that fit what 1WD is really all about and respecting the fact that after the samples are sent there can be no promises of coverage or even of any follow-up on the wines if they’re not reviewed. I know that you’re looking to get your clients’ products in front of eyeballs, you know I am looking fro great content for these virtual pages, and we try to meet in the middle without overstepping each others’ professional boundaries. So… thank you for that!
For the other 10% of the wine PR folks out there – the ones who want me to promise coverage before they will deign to send me a samples (of wines that they’ve already deigned to SPAM me about in press release emails asking me if I want a sample in the first place) – well, I also have two words for you, only those two words rhyme with “Duck Poo” and I don’t want to print them here…
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