Articles Tagged wine blogging
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!”
Last week Riedel, the Austrian glassware company that seems tailor-made for the anally-retentive (the company produces glasses designed specifically for different wine styles and individual varietal wines, and even for different types of water), threatened wine blogger (and friend of 1WD) Ron Washam, better known within the wine biz as The Hosemaster of Wine.
Apparently, Georg Riedel didn’t take kindly to Washam’s satirical take on the company, published recently on MW Tim Atkin’s website. While Atkin was probably more vulnerable (due to the archaic UK laws regarding publishing), Washam was likely relatively “safe,” though of course subject to fast-mounting – and surely unwanted – legal bills in his defense.
From Atkin’s standpoint, the matter has been settled. Presumably in relation to the settlement, Atkin added the following preamble to the original article:
In this piece, US-based wine writer Ron Washam pokes fun at Riedel, the wine glass company, a brand that I respect and use personally. This is a piece of satirical writing. No offence is meant to be caused either to Georg Riedel or to his business. Please note that no interview with Georg Riedel took place in the creation of this article and that all quotes are fictitious and do not represent the personal views or business practices of Georg Riedel or his company. Tim Atkin
But as a company Riedel has, as of the time of this writing, not answered for what I would consider its blatantly asinine public behavior relating to this matter. Not only did they level the threat of legal action on Washam, but Riedel also removed complaints about / references to the incident posted by visitors to their Facebook page (I know this to be the case, because at least one of mine was removed).
[ Insert plaintive, exacerbated sigh here. ]
There are so many problems with this, it’s difficult for me to calm down long enough to know where to begin. Let’s start here: Riedel is way off base in challenging Hosemaster’s satire. From their letter to Washam, as reprinted on his website:
“… there is nothing satirical or funny about the Article…”
[ Insert incredulous What. The. HELL?!?? here ]…
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A recent spate of criticism levied against wine bloggers as a general group got me thinking that there actually isn’t a thing we might call “wine blogging” anymore.
Think about it this way:
Should – or can – we stop people from taking cell phone pictures?
Most of the photos taken by mostly everyone are terrible. Awful lighting. Laughable composition. Deer-in-the-headlights use of (the horror!)… a flash! And don’t get me started on the subject matter chosen for well over 95 percent of what will be the estimated trillion (yes, trillion) digital photographs taken over the next year.
Almost none of those images will even qualify as a mortifying embarrassment for any professional – or even semi-pro – photographer. So, why not rise up in protest, gnash our teeth, and collectively bitch and moan that “amateur photography” is a blight on the professional photography world?
Because that idea is ludicrous, of course. It’s full of faulty assumptions, not the least of which is the notion that amateur personal photography could be controlled – impossible on its face with the proliferation and ease of both its creation (try finding a cell phone without a camera option, folks) and its distribution and publication (flikr… Pinterest… Instagram… the book of face…).
Another impossibly stupid assumption: that all, or even a tiny fraction, of amateur photographers actually believe themselves to be performing at a professional level, and are taking pictures for any reason other than their own personal enjoyment.
If you’re still with me, I’m about to tie this back into the wine world (thanks for your patience… I owe you a glass of something decent)…
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Sigh… Here we go. Again.
It seems the 100 point wine rating scale debate – and its subsequent delineation of ivory-tower criticism vs. crowd-sourced wine recommendations – has once again reared its ugly head, though since it’s a zombie topic that’s never quite dead, it doesn’t have to raise its moaning, rotting head very far to push itself back into the wine geek consciousness.
We begin with an article by my friend Jonathan Cristaldi, itself a reprise and update of a piece that was first penned and published in 2013, in which Jonathan discusses the relevance of the 100 point wine rating scale his future view of wine recommendations:
The future of wine ratings is a future of recommendations, not points or scores, from socially active wine enthusiasts and industry professionals who cultivate their own following and hold court over a sphere of influence. Experience and education imbues the passionate wine enthusiast with the kind of knowledge and confidence to entertain and communicate what is complex about wine, what is fun about wine–socially active oenophiles who post photos of labels and talk about wine in the vernacular will emerge as the collective voice for wine drinkers of the future. More and more people will learn of wine’s complexities through social engagement. Friends and confidants (trade and non-trade) will replace the lone critic and his bully pulpit. Wine drinkers will realize the power and worth of a discerning palate because of the value their friends place on such expectations.
This spurred a rebuttal by another friend of mine, Steve Heimoff, formerly of Wine Enthusiast, via his blog:
Proof? There is none. “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,” the old nursery rhyme tells us. Merely wishing that individual critics will fade away, in favor of crowd-sourced opinions spread via social media, is the biggest wish-fantasy around. When Cristaldi tells us that “Friends and confidants will replace the lone wine critic,” he has absolutely no proof; no evidence supports it, except anecdotally; and even if the Baby Boomer critics, like Parker, are retiring or dying off, there is no reason to think that their places will not be taken by Millennials who just might be the future Parkers and Tanzers and Gallonis and Laubes and Wongs and, yes, Heimoffs.
Ok, folks, I cannot resist chiming in on this, so here goes…
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