Meet the New Boss
Same as the Old Boss
– Pete Townshend, Won’t Get Fooled Again
I get a lot of wine samples (and no, I have not yet properly pimped out my wine storage to accommodate them all). I know that many of you (because you’ve told me) hate it when I say that, because supposedly this is some sort of wonderful problem to have. However, that position is based on two assumptions that generally are totally wrong:
- The wine samples are primarily for my enjoyment.
- The wine samples are primarily very good wine (or, alternatively, the wine samples primary purpose is to keep me intoxicated).
The fact of the matter is that neither are true (the samples are for evaluation and most of them are not ‘knock-yer-socks-off’ good), so I don’t buy the argument that I’m a dick for discussing issues I might have with keeping up with wine samples (I could buy alternative arguments for why I’m a dick, however). I’m not going to complain if a winery producing limited amounts of excellent wine sends me a sample or two, because I know that most of you (because you told me) want me to write about those wines. But, in reflection of the wine market in general, those ‘special’ wines reflect maybe 2% of the samples sent to me.
I’m telling you this because, if my sample profile is any indication, the wine market is focusing on budget/value, and targeting the general wine consumer using low price points. Common sense would suggest that, in this time of economic meltdown challenge, the focus on producing budget wine is a logical new development in the wine market.
Logical conclusion, but wrong…
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As much as social media wine wizards and millennials rail against established wine media, most of them (myself included) share with those ‘old media’ types a similar and mistake-prone approach to wine evaluation and appreciation.
And that is, the rapid-fire assessment, review, and perfunctory judgment of any given wine. We are judge, jury and executioner of the glass’ contents, often within the span of two minutes.
We see this happen all the time – in fact in some cases (like certain Twitter Taste Live events, or the “speed dating” wine blogging at the Wine Bloggers Conference), it’s encouraged and necessary. I often participate in and have grown to love those events, provided that we don’t take them too seriously.
And we shouldn’t take them seriously, at least as far as true wine appreciation is concerned. Why? Because every glass of wine, from the pedestrian to the sublime, is speaking to you, trying to tell you something about itself – you need only take the actual time to listen to it.
In the case of many wines made in the ‘Old World’ style (what my compadre Randall Grahm calls Modernist), where typicity of place and nuanced complexity are the goals, that message may be “Come back later.” New World (Postmodernist) wines usually (and probably unfairly) fare better in rapid-fire evaluation scenarios, precisely because they more often offer their treasures quickly and liberally – “Hey! Over here! I’m talkin’ to YOU!”
In a globally-connected, information-based economy like ours, we are progressively programmed with positive reinforcement to spend as little time as possible on something – in fact, we’re rewarded for doing many things at once, and the more quickly we can shove them into the same time slot, the better.
The trouble is, if you want to appreciate wine fully, you need to dump the Speed Racer + Multitasking Pro persona. Pronto…
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I’m not usually at a loss for words (and I suspect that the condition is temporary and will wear off in a few nanoseconds), but my reaction to 1WineDude.com winning Best Wine Blog in the Foodbuzz.com Blog Awards is… uhmm…. WOW! And THANK YOU. Thank you to Foodbuzz, to all of the people who took the time out to nominate and vote for the blog, and to you for putting up with me for so long! Fellow nominee, ‘friend of the Dude’ and all-around wine blogging powerhouse Dr. Vino was voted “blogger you would most want to be your personal sommelier” (the other wine-related awards category).
I was quite surprised when I found out that 1WineDude was even nominated (which I’d discovered after voting had already started, upon visiting the site to vote for a friend’s blog in another category). In fact, I didn’t even know that there was a Best Wine Blog category in the awards at first. I was both amazed and humbled to have been nominated at all, and the competition was stiffer than the wooden staves that go into vats of el-cheapo American Chardonnay. So I’m also amazed and humbled to have won.
I’m not gonna get all ‘Dick Cheney re-elected’ on you and say it’s a ‘clear mandate from the people’ in support of taking wine seriously but not taking yourself too seriously, and I don’t want to make more out of the honor than it should be, but winning this award did give me a few seconds of serious pause, because Foodbuzz.com seems to be a pretty big friggin’ deal right now (at least in the U.S.).
I was fortunate enough to have been contacted by Foodbuzz.com early in their development, as part of their Featured Publishers program, and I’ve watched them build a (very) large community of (very) talented foodies in a (very) short amount of time. Their success is actually a bit staggering – Foodbuzz.com now gets millions of visits every month. Their reach is, in a word, enormous (and it’s still growing).
Anyway, following is a snippet of the internal dialog going on in my head during that few seconds of serious pause (FSSP):
Me: Maybe 1WineDude.com really is making a difference in the world of wine and helping people to take an emboldened approach a potentially daunting topic? I suppose that stranger things have happened, right?
Me2: You mean like three wine critics and one Japanese cartoon driving a massive amount of wine spending dollars worldwide. Also, why are you using words like ‘emboldened’ and ‘daunting’ when you’re talking to yourself? No one should use 15th century words when they’re talking to themselves.
Me: Good points. Jerk.
During the FSSP, I did contemplate taking a more serious approach on the virtual pages of the blog, now that I can officially call 1WineDude “award winning.” Fortunately, that didn’t last very long.
I have one regret about of this this – I wasn’t able to make the Foodbuzz Blogger Festival, which by all accounts appears to have been a huge success (both Randall Grahm and fellow nominee Alder Yarrow had good things to say about the event while it was unfolding via twitter). I plan on doing everything that I can to make the trip for next year’s event.
Congrats to all of the winners – it’s definitely worth checking out the other Foodbuzz Blog Award winners, especially if you’re a foodie-at-heart; there’s some really impressive blogging happening there.
Last week, I attended an on-line video conference / wine tasting that involved a handful of wine bloggers from around the U.S., as well as eight of Chile’s most talented young winemakers (congregated in Santiago), moderated by Wines of Chile in N.Y. While I’m used to this kind of cross-time-zone, cross-cultural meeting (as well as utilizing video and conference call across the same) from working in IT, I had no idea how this would transpire in the context of wine.
And I’ve never tasted eight samples of Chilean Carmenere wines on an IT conference call.
So… how did it go?
I’m happy to report that I found the event to be great fun and quite well executed. The technology worked well and I only found minor cavils – like wanting the in-conference chat to work like twitter, preferably integrated with twitter – which I think speaks to the professionalism and quality of the event overall if those are my only complaints.
Last week, I’d written that this event could prove to be a seminal moment in my wine-lovin’ days, as it focused almost exclusively on Carmenere, a grape with which I’ve had a troubled history. In summary, I’ve been critical of Chile’s ability to deliver on the potential of the grape as (in my experience) they’d yet to get pyrazine (which imparts ‘green’ aromas of bell pepper and pine) truly under control and balanced with the dark fruit flavors of the grape.
I was placing (perhaps unjustifiably) a lot of pressure on this event, as I was expecting (perhaps justifiably) that Wines of Chile would ‘go big’ and bring some heavy hitters to the party – i.e., really show what Chile was capable of when it comes to Carmenere.
So… how were the wines?
In summary: a mixed bag…
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