My Apology to Wine Spectator (or “Has Hell Frozen Over?!??”)

Vinted on April 23, 2009 binned in commentary

Here’s something that you don’t see every day.

I’m about to give props to Wine Spectator.

And I’m going to apologize to their Forum members.

I will wait a moment to let the air of collective “WTF?!???” clear the room.

Ok… also, please pick your jaws up from the floor.

First, let’s provide a bit of background: A recent post on Tyler Coleman’s blog (Dr. Vino) explored a controversy on the forums, and in a comment on Tyler’s post I chimed in with the following extremely unhelpful comment (reproduced here because the post has about 1 billion comments now and I don’t want you to have to page through them to find it… I hope Tyler doesn’t mind!):

On April 16th, 2009 at 5:59 am ,1WineDude wrote:

The Wine Spectator forum is far, *far* worse. I’ve watched their moderators join in on discussions that clearly violate the forum’s participation policies…

Afterward, I was contacted by Tom Matthews, the Executive Editor of Wine Spectator.  He wanted more information on my criticism, and I advised him that the thread I was primarily referencing no longer existed on the forum (apparently having been removed sometime last year), but that there were other examples of what I considered overly-aggressive treatment of me and other bloggers on the WS forums.

In exchanging e-mails with Tom, I was impressed that he cared enough about this to follow it up seriously.  I also realized during our echange that my comment on Tyler’s post just sounds like a nasty, snide, negative attack.  It’s got no background or context, tells no story, doesn’t explain how it relates the eBob forum controversy… it’s just totally and completely unhelpful. It’s useless.

So, I apologized to Tom, and I offered an apology on the WS forum (that one is probably turning some heads), and I’ve apologized on Tyler’s post via a follow-up comment – though again it might be tough to find it in the thread of gazillion comments, so here it is below:

On April 19th, 2009 at 3:36 pm ,1WineDude wrote:

Hi all – I’ve been corresponding with Tom Matthews regarding my previous comment in this post about the Wine Spectator forums.

I’ve subsequently apologized in the forum and to Tom, because by not providing the background of *why* I think the WS forums are worse, my comment simply comes off as a snide attack.

I am sorry about that. If anyone wants to know why I don’t like the WS forums and called them a snake pit on my blog, you can check out the threads available here and see for yourself how I was treated:

I don’t respect the forums any more than I did previously, but thanks to Tom reaching out to me I can understand fully why my comment could be perceived as a snide attack, so I’m officially saying that I’m sorry for that. I may really dislike some of the WS forum members, but I still believe that everyone, including those that treated me badly, deserve more respect than what I showed here via my comment.

I’ve not changed my view of the Wine Spectator forums – I still think discussions there sometimes devolve into a snake-pit of acrimony, mostly due to the input of a few very rotten apples spoiling the bunch, and a lack of sufficient moderation.

But I also truly believe what I wrote above – everyone deserves a basic level of respect, not snide hit-and-run sideswipe comments without context.  Even the folks who might not think that I deserve respect.

I’d happily debate any WS forum member on the relative value of blogs vs. wine mags, on how differently I think that they should treat new forum members, or on how different and positive discourse is on alternative sites like the Open Wine Consortium.  But I shouldn’t have blasted the WS forum in a public setting without providing the proper context to back it up, and I’m deeply grateful to Tom for reaching out to me and with meaningful, civil discourse pointing out the un-helpfulness of my comment.

I should also add, for the benefit of my harshest critics on the WS forum: Tom mentioned to me that he’s a follower of the blog.  I’ve got your chin band-aids here, folks – I’m sure many of you will be needing them after that.

Anyway – Mad props to Tom, and apologies to the WS forum members.

Now, if any WS forum members would like to apologize to me and my fellow wine bloggers for any past disrespectful transgressions from civil discourse on their part… I’m sure we’re all ears…!






  • Thomas Matthews

    Joe, Thanks for this. All of us say things that, on reflection, didn't convey the meaning we intended. It's honorable to go back and set the record straight.

    Tom Matthews

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Tom – I appreciated you reaching out, and pointing out the repercussions on the Wine Spectator side. Cheers!

  • Willyboy

    Today we were talking about the fact that at the core of issues today is a lack of moral compass. Your compass is true north 1WineDude. Kudos.

    • 1WineDude

      Thank you, my friend! There's hope for me raising my daughter correctly after all!

  • 1WineDude

    Thanks, Steve – I hope you're right, because that might make me somewhat famous and therefore I could capitalize on it to make some cash. Just sayin'… ;-)

  • Vinogirl

    Whilst I applaud your "moral compass" ,my subscription to WS is still a thing of the past. I love your writing…keep up the good work.

  • 1WineDude

    Understood. For me, deciding on whether or not I'd subscribe to WS (I don't) has nothing to do with the WS forums and more to do with their coverage of wine not being geeky enough for me (I'm a nerd :-). Cheers!

  • 1WineDude

    Hmm… sounds like we might be in violent agreement. Cheers!

  • Dylan

    Joe–everyone's already said it, but it's a big thing to admit a mistake, especially publicly. That value is what will maintain your ability as a credible writer and incredible person.

    • 1WineDude

      Wow – thanks, Dylan! I will try to live up to those words (well, at least as far as blogging is concerned ;-).

  • tom merle

    Dude, ____You cite Open Wine Consortium for its "different [=more civil] and positive discourse" This may be true, but not for the reason implied. The real reason is lack of participation. Sure there are over 3500 "members", 3400 of which are completely inactive. People sign up add a post or reply then are never heard from again. It will only realize its potential if people in the biz return and insert a comment from time to time, or use it as a clearinghouse of information. The exception is the blogger group on OWC (and its relative, the bloggers conference group), but it could be so much more.

    • 1WineDude

      Hi Tom – great points, both about the fact that OWC civility might be due to its under-utilization, and also the general point about the OWC not yet maximizing its potential.

      I would offer other examples, though, of forums that *in my experience* are more civil and open-minded than those at WS and that have far, far more members (and more *active* members):

      WS Forum member count: 13647
      Music forum (pretty much *the* spot for on-line discussion among bass players world-wide) Member count: 123,269

      Almost 10 times the amount of members, and (I'd argue) less than 10 times the amount of general snarkiness…

      • 1WineDude

        It's not you, Tom – the IntenseDebate signup is not too prevalent. Try checking the "Sign up for IntenseDebate" checkbox when you leave a comment, or you can go directly to and create an account (I think). Cheers!

  • 1WineDude

    Like I always say, it take a Tough Man to make a tender chicken!

  • Dymncommago

    Find a really cheap vehicle insurance agent in southern Juneau City and Borough, AK


    They really aided to get my ’95 gmc stationwagon on the road.

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