Are Wine Critics More Qualified Than Wine Bloggers?

Vinted on January 20, 2015 binned in commentary, wine news

A friend of mine – Elaine Brown of Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews – recently sent me a note indicating that another friend of mine (David White of Terroirist) and I were mentioned in an online article over at FirstWeFeast.com that was written by yet another friend of mine, Jonathan Cristaldi.

Yeah, the wine world is kind of small like that.

Anyway, the article is titled “10 Dirty Secrets of Wine (That Nobody Wants to Talk About)” and it makes for a fascinating, funny, and at times kooky read about some revealing but less-than-glamorous aspects of the wine trade in general (my personal favorite from the list, which is funny although it sells many bartenders seriously short: “Bartenders and mixologists don’t give a shit about wine”).

The item in which we’re mentioned is “Wine critics aren’t necessarily more qualified than bloggers,” which I am quoting below so you can get up to speed quickly:

If we drew a line in the sand and asked established Wine Critics (capital C) to stand on one side, and amateur wine bloggers (lowercase b) to stand on the other, we’d immediately expose an ongoing war of credentials—one which leaves its bloodied tracks on bitter comment threads around the Internet.

Wine bloggers are correct in assuming that many notable critics have bypassed formal beverage industry education in lieu of “life experiences.” They take great pleasure in declaring that major critics are class-act bullshit artists—the likes of Robert M. Parker Jr. (a lawyer and self-taught wine guru), James Suckling (an undergraduate tennis pro with a graduate degree in journalism), and Eric Asimov (the nephew of author Isaac Asimov, with an undergrad degree in “American Civilization”).

Still, the relationship between the two camps is complicated. When the Critic unleashes a bad score or expounds on the subject of natural wines, wine bloggers will heap waves of tyrannical expletives upon them—but only behind closed doors. Put those same bloggers in front of the venerable Critic, and you’ll see them whimper in admiration and jealousy.

The Critic is well aware of this duality, and several of these esteemed scribes take great pleasure in lashing out against people they consider to be amateur fluff writers. In truth, many amateur wine bloggers are anything but amateur, having earned legit credentials from industry-lauded institutions like the Wine, Spirits & Education Trust (WSET), the Society of Wine Educators, or The Guild of Sommeliers, and many of them contribute articles to the very publications that major Critics write for — folks like Joe Roberts of 1 Wine Dude; David White, who founded and edits a daily wine blog called Terroirist; Elaine Chukan Brown of Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews; and many others.

Does formal education trump life experience? Do professionals owe it to their readers to earn a formal degree? Who, then, is rightfully deserving of the title “Critic”?

There are a whooooole lotta worms in the can that JC opened up there…

Read the rest of this stuff »

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Wine Reviews: Weekly Mini Round-Up For January 19, 2015

Vinted on January 19, 2015 binned in wine mini-reviews

So, like, what is this stuff, anyway?
I taste a bunch-o-wine (technical term for more than most people). So each week, I share some of my wine reviews (mostly from samples) and tasting notes with you via twitter (limited to 140 characters). They are meant to be quirky, fun, and easily-digestible reviews of currently available wines. Below is a wrap-up of those twitter wine reviews from the past week (click here for the skinny on how to read them), along with links to help you find these wines, so that you can try them for yourself. Cheers!

  • 09 Pine Ridge Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): If you're fond of sandalwood, then you've found your vinous aroma candle. $80 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Cantele Amato Red (Salento): Dark cherries that are sporting enough smoke and stern poker faces for a card tournament in Vegas. $22 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Luca Bosio Vineyards Leda, The Truffle Hunter Barbera (Barbera d'Asti): Easy company, if a bit overly fond of cloying phrases. $14 B- >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Hugel et Fils Riesling Hugel (Alsace): Limes, a lingering laugh, a playful attitude, a winning smile, and a steely glance. $22 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Juslyn Vineyards Rescue Red (Napa Valley): Afraid of a little herbs-n-spice in your glass? Just get over it, already, & enjoy. $80 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 06 Champagne Jacquart Blanc de Blancs (Champagne): The apples are fresh, sweet, and they're downright thirst – and soul – quenching. $55 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 13 Donnafugata Lighea (Sicily): A lingering, exhaled sigh of relief, with breath that's fresh, floral, fun, & not easily forgotten. $23 B+ >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Tenuta Rapitala Nadir Syrah (Sicily): Emphatic statements on the mic from Sicily, delivered on spicy, blueberry pedestals. $16 B >>find this wine<<
  • 11 Shah Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley): If only this minty, sweet, richly rewarding ride were just a *tad* longer… $150 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 12 Shah Napa Valley Chardonnay (Napa Valley): Coombsville speaking the Chard language of love, with a booming, richly toned voice. $65 A- >>find this wine<<
  • 10 Selbach-Oster Gracher Domprobst Riesling Spatlese (Mosel): Honey-lemon and ginger spread across long slate serving plates. $33 B+ >>find this wine<<
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Furmint Adventures Episode 2: Tokaj-Hétszőlő Vineyards

Vinted on January 15, 2015 binned in 1WineDude TV, going pro, on the road

The second installment of my (drunken) Tokaj Furmint adventures is now available, embedded below for your viewing edu-tainment!

In this week’s video, you’ll meet the affable (and very, very tall) Gergely Makai, winemaker at the famed Tokaj-Hétszőlő. In this episode, Gergely and I manage to combine modern winemaking, Jedi Knight mind tricks, one of the coolest wine cellar spaces on the planet, and European history dating back to the early 1500s, involving kings and Ben-Hur-style chariots.

Yeah, I really, actually do get paid to do this shizz! For the full run-down of the vids released so far – and for the detailed scoop on dry Hungarian Furmint wines in general – head on over to FurmintUSA.com.

Enjoy, preferably with a glass of Hungarian vino:

 Furmint Adventures – Episode 2.: Tokaj-Hétszőlő Vineyards

Cheers!

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