Posts Filed Under going pro
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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Last week, my little old hunk of the global interwebs was named one of the Best Wine Blogs in in the 2011 installment of Most Wanted’s 100 Essential Blogs: Christmas Edition.
I’m honored to have been included, because their other blog selections are all great so I find myself dragging down the curve of the list, so to speak. But all those years of watching British sitcoms like Black Adder must have paid off, because apparently the Most Wanted folks also think I’m a Brit (I know… I don’t get it, either); to the tape:
“The Most Wanted 100 Essential Blogs: Christmas Edition is an online list of the most influential blogs in the UK (within their categories) of the past six months. We have painstakingly scoured the web to find ten publishing leaders in each of the ten categories. The Most Wanted 100 Essential Blogs: Christmas Edition aims to be a definitive list, a go-to resource if you’re looking for some inspiration about what to do, make, give and consume over the Christmas season.”
Hmmm… sorry, old chap, but I’m quite thoroughly American, I’m afraid. And it’s a bit early for Christmas, don’t you think? And don’t get me started on Christmas shopping – that shiz doesn’t start for me until December at the earliest. Anyway, don’t tell them I’m not British, otherwise they might take me off the list.
Speaking of the list, here’s the full complement of Most Wanted’s awarded wine blogs below (in what I think is no particular order, though truth be told I’m not so sure) – and it’s the real meat of this post, because if you’re geeking out over wine then you really ought to be checking out these sites on a regular basis.
Well… are they?
Some background: Wine critics generally use a 100-point scale when evaluating wines (I know most of you know this, bear with the exposition, people!). I don’t, because I think it implies a level of accuracy in evaluating a moving-target product (that can change within hours in the glass, let alone within years in the bottle) and so I (begrudgingly – hey, you asked for them!) use a “fuzzier” scale to evaluate the wine that I’m fortunate (and, ok, sometimes not-so-fortunate) enough to have cross my lips.
Generally, it’s assumed that many (probably most) wine critics reserve some part of their rating score for a wine’s color. For example, long-time Wine Spectator editor James Suckling once explained via video how he doles out his points when reviewing a wine, in which “things like color get 15 points.”
But is a wine’s color an important enough aspect on which to base 15% or so of one’s critical rating? According to a (very) informal poll I took recently via twitter and facebook, the answer is probably “No.”…
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