Articles Tagged fermentation
Tom Wark recently asked me to chime in for an article he was considering for his blog, on the topic of whether or not interest in wine blogs was waning. I offered my views, some of which are quoted in his thoughtfully-considered piece.
Alive, though maybe not totally well (image: Grape Collective)
As to whether or not I agree with
Tom (my bad – see comments) those that might consider that wine blogging has “died without a funeral,” I think we first have to ask ourselves if wine blogging is inherently different from other niche blogging topics. If we accept that it isn’t (in the same way that, say, DVRs aren’t inherently different from one another – they all basically do the same thing at the core, which is record broadcast video media), then Tom is also asking if niche blogging is dead.
To which I would say, No, it’s not dead.
This is the kind of question that gets posed periodically (go ahead, search it) when we see dynamic informal institutions, like online communities, do what they do, which is change (wait, you really expected this stuff to stay static forever? duuuuuude…. wtf?!??).
We shouldn’t mistake community maturation and the movement of engagement discussions from blog comments to Facebook, Instagram, etc., as a lack of interest in the sharing amateur content about wine (which is what blogs inherently are about – sharing info and opinions). Just because one outlet (longer form blog posts) isn’t as popular as another (image-centric, short updates on larger social media platforms) doesn’t mean that people no longer care about the core thing: sharing wine online.
They do care. A lot. There is no lack of interest in sharing content about wine (to wit: see just about any recent stat from Vintank on online wine mentions). And where that content is being shared, influence and money (in terms of what people who read and participate in those updates and discussion will buy) will often follow (though, maddeningly, in ways that are difficult to track, but that’s not the fault of the platforms themselves).
Anyway, if wine blogging is actually dead, then someone forgot to send that memo to Grape Collective, you also recently quoted me in dear-gawd-TMI-bro! fashion when they interviewed me for their “SpeakEasy interview series with influential bloggers.”
“I’m not dead yet! I think I’ll go for a walk!”
Almost four (holy crap!) years ago, I wrote on these virtual pages a response (ok, rebuttal) to a claim by the thought-provoking PR maven Tom Wark that we were in a “golden age” of wine writing.
Fast-forward to last week, and we have Tom taking umbrage with a satirical piece by Ron Washam, a.k.a. The Hosemaster of Wine, in which wine writer Karen MacNeil delivers a keynote address to the Wine Bloggers Conference in which she offers the helpful advice that most wine bloggers ought to hang it up: “Your prose is like box wine—a collapsing plastic sack of crap.” Steve Heimoff, formerly of Wine Enthusiast, also got in on the discussion, essentially wondering aloud if wine writing is doomed.
With me so far?
Tom’s rebuttal essentially restates his position from 2011; that we are in a golden age of wine writing, particularly online: “The list of very good writers who are or have started as wine bloggers is long and undeniable.”
At first blush (see what I did there?), it would seem that we have moved not one iota in the nearly four years since we first aired this friendly debate across our respective corners of the Global Interwebs. And while that may actually be the case, I am not here to offer a rebuttal to Tom’s rebuttal (despite the fact that, while I love the wine blogging community, I largely agree with Ron’s position and would extend it to include the vast majority of wine writing found in print).
No, I am here to tell you that asking (or debating) if we are in a golden age of wine writing is effectively asking the wrong question…
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Just over one month ago, I was quoted in an (excellent and well-written) article by Spencer Bailey of the Columbia Journalism Review, titled “Everyone’s the Wine Expert: Wine critics and bloggers, professional and amateur, are mixed up in a social media web.”
At the time, the CJR article was (rightfully) the subject of interesting and thought-provoking analysis by some very intelligent stewards of the wine world, most notably Tom Wark and Steve Heimoff.
I found myself quoted slightly out of context in the article, and somehow placed on opposite but connected poles of viewpoints with wine writer and educator Karen MacNeil, as if we were some sort of quantum-entangled pair of electrons in a physics experiment. I’ll mention right now that I am not equating myself with Karen MacNeil in terms of wine writing – not even close; I’m simply pointing out the juxtaposition of our attributed viewpoints in the CJR article.
The article quotes Karen in raising an important viewpoint about wine writing; a concern discussed in detail at the Professional Wine Writers Symposium earlier this year, and one that I’ve pondered on many occasions myself:
“Maybe what blogging will do is undermine the whole idea that this is a subject that is rich and deep and requires some substantive thought and substantive knowledge,” says Karen MacNeil, author of The Wine Bible and one in a small stable of writers that wine critic Robert Parker has recruited to contribute to his Web site, erobertparker.com. “If everybody’s an expert,” she says, “nobody’s an expert.”
This was followed immediately by the opposing viewpoint, which was attributed to me despite the fact that it’s not an entirely literal record of my take on the issue:
Do we really need expert critics anymore? Many bloggers don’t think so, arguing that credentials are merely one part of what makes a great wine writer. How you say something—not simply who says it, they argue—is what’s most important. “Readers today have got to feel like the experts connect with them in some way,” says Joe Roberts, who runs the blog 1WineDude.com. “It’s not just, ‘Oh, this person’s got great credentials because they work for Wine Enthusiast.’”
So, over a month later, why am disturbing the tomb and (sort-of) resurrecting the discussion? It’s the question “Do we really need expert critics anymore?” – the CRJ article proposes it, but then moves off of that topic rather quickly. Which is a shame, because that’s where the real meat in this pie lies…
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[Editor’s Note: this is a little ditty for those of you who, like the editor, live in one of the many U.S. states that prohibit the direct sale and/or shipping of wine. Enjoy!]
Bitchslapping your state legislator is not a simple matter. In fact, it’s fraught with potential pitfalls.
What if your legislator is bigger than you are? What if s/he tries to bitchslap you back? What would my mother think of this? etc.
A proper bitchslap needs to be delivered decisively and confidently. Therefore, it’s vitally important not to let minor concerns, like personal safety and the threat of incarceration, get into the way of a good bitchslapping. So, buck and let’s continue, shall we?
A proper bitchslap also need to be delivered firmly. Which is why it’s often less effective to deliver the bitchslap by hand, and more effective to deliver the bitchslap via proxy. Which is not to say that it is delivered by someone else, but is to say that use of a prop is always in good form, especially when the prop delivers enough noise and bodily pain upon striking the other person’s face to be embarrassing , but not enough to permanently injure the bitchslappee (apart from the bitchslappee’s pride, that is). The prop therefore should be heavy enough to inflict the above damage but flexible and light enough for the bitchslapper to wield effectively and adroitly.
You may have already guessed that a printed book or stack of paper of proper thickness and quality material would be an ideal prop for the bitchslapper to wield, and you’d be correct in that assessment.
Which is why I recommend the following simple steps for properly bitchslapping your wine-monopolizing state legislator…
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