Why Every Wine Lover Should Have A Wine Blog

Vinted on August 8, 2011 binned in best of, commentary, wine appreciation, wine blogging

If you love wine, you can do something that costs $0.00 and almost certainly will up your wine appreciation and wine tasting I.Q. score varios puntos. Namely, start a wine blog.

Right now.  It will take you less than ten minutes.  Go to wordpress.com and create a blog, and your first post can be as simple as “hey, I really think I dig wine, and I want to talk about it.”

You shouldn’t expect anyone to read it yet, but that’s not the point.  The point is to journal your own personal journey with wine.

I can feel the collective groan of WineSpectator.com forum members, other wine bloggers, and print media at the suggestion that every Tom, Dick, Harry, Sally, and Bacchus start churning out their own personal impressions on the wines that they try and how it affects their lives.

And I’m here today to tell those people to go shove it.

Start a wine blog, and piss all of them off.  Do it because it will help you learn about wine, because it will help you share some of your wine experiences with your friends, because it will encourage you to taste more and more wine and get to know your own wine preferences better.

But most of all, do it because it’s good for the wine industry if you start blogging about wine, because the positives of every additional ounce added to the volume of the current wine media sea change far, far outweigh the potential negatives. More on that in a minute.

You will hear from many that you shouldn’t, of course, for a large variety of reasons. So let’s just call bullsh*t on just about every one of the reasons right now…

You shouldn’t blog about wine because you can’t write well, or you don’t know enough about wine, or no one who doesn’t know you will care about what you write.  But that assumes that your aim is to court an audience of wine consumers instead of just wanting to share, learn and grow; it assumes that you want to compete with the best wine blogs in the world, or that you have aims to single-handedly topple The Wine Advocates of the world. You don’t – you just want to talk about wine.  So that argument holds about as much weight as saying that I shouldn’t play roller hockey with my buddies because I’m not good enough to have tried out for the Philadelphia Bulldogs – in other words, it’s bullsh*t.

You shouldn’t blog about wine because you’re blog will contribute to the undermining of the “real” or “legitimate” wine press in America.  Again… you can safely call bullsh*t on that one.  While it could be argued that you’re diluting the pool by (sort of) jumping into the wine media waters, your contribution is infinitesimally small compared to the dilution that the wine writing genre has brought upon its own head from years of churning out content so formulaic and predictably banal that it has effectively adopted an outsourced business model.  You can tell anyone who gives you that angle to go pound sandy soil in some Hungarian vineyards.

You shouldn’t blog about wine because wine bloggers have a terrible reputation as wanna-be critics who whore themselves out for free wine samples.  Buuuullshiiiiiizzzzz.  There are for sure a group of posers in the wine blogging world, people with limited ability who are pretending to matter, act as though they are bigger than their audience, and demand free stuff.  Of course, that same group exists in on-line and printed versions of all media, no matter what the topic.  But their presence, volume, and influence is largely overplayed; they make up a tiny fraction of the wine blogging community.  And just ask any of several hundred wine bloggers who talk about vino just for the love of it – you will NOT get freebies or samples unless you have cultivated an audience that wine PR people want to reach for their clients.  An undue amount of attention is paid to the exceptions, but riddle me this, Batman: is it more likely there are stories made about the posers because they rule the roost, or is it more likely that the folks covering than angle are doing so because it’s the most sensationalized spin that they could put on it?

You shouldn’t blog about wine because it will add to the confusion about wine already rampant among consumers; helpless, the poor consumer won’t know which way to turn, won’t know who they can trust about wine, and their heads will explode messily in supermarket wine aisles nationwide.  [ Insert sign-language sign for bullsh*t here. ]  You’re a wine consumer – do you consider yourself an idiot? I certainly don’t consider you an idiot.  If a wine consumer out there can’t tell the difference between GoodGrape.com, or PalatePress.com and some poser site looking for free handouts, or if they can’t sort through the fact that someone blogging just for the fun of it has a different aim entirely than AnotherWineBlog.com, then those people deserve to drink crappy wine because they either aren’t paying attention or they don’t have all the right synapses firing.  The “muddies the waters” argument is demeaning – it’s telling you that (poor, poor, pitiful you), you just don’t know any better; and that, my friends, is bull honkey.

The fact is, you can start a wine blog, you can do it in a few minutes, without any prequalification in the wine biz, and nobody can stop you.  The gatekeepers should really just suck it up and stop trying to deter you, because it’s ultimately better for them (oh, the irony!) and the entire wine industry if you blog about wine, and if you do it for the love of it and without pretense, and without any sense of entitlement.  Blog your vinous-lovin’ heart out, and don’t sweat the rest of it.  If you do happen to attract an audience, then the game changes significantly: you then owe it to yourself, your readers and the entire wine industry to continually improve your tasting, writing, and reporting skills (not to mention increasing your overall wine knowledge).  But that day may never come, and that’s okay because it’s not your aim.  Blog about wine for you.  And maybe for a few of your friends who will read you and dig what you have to say about wine.

You may not realize it at first, but your small wine blog audience, added in aggregate to the audiences of many, many, many, many other consumers blogging about wine, adds up to something big – something very, very big – that is fundamentally morphing the wine media world.  I offer this tidbit from Jancis Robinson’s keynote speech at the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference, as reported by (talented blogger and fine writer) David McIntyre at WashingtonPost.com:

Robinson seemed genuinely excited when she spoke of the changes brought on by new media. With consumers no longer dependent on one or two magazines for advice, and with more and more-varied wines available to choose from, the market is being transformed, she said. “Retailers will regain the right to make their own choices of what to sell instead of following the one or two voices, and my own dream of consumers making up their own minds about what they like to drink will finally come true,” Robinson said.  “Develop your own opinions and get in touch with your own preferences. Remember that with wine appreciation, there are no rights and no wrongs. We all have different tastes, and no single one of them is right. Be open: There are other grape varieties than chardonnay, and there are other colors of wine than red.”

I love Jancis’ dream.  And I think it’s attainable, though on some days it may seem a bit distant.  Which wine world would you rather inhabit – the one in which a handful of critics make or break wine brands within narrow definitions of what constitutes “good” or “bad” wine (f*ck, it sounds like an Orwellian vision of wine Communism!), or the open-minded, multifaceted one that Jancis talked about at WBC11?  That’s a hypothetical question, by the way…

So here’s a toast in anticipation that you’re wine blog will help, just a little bit, in bringing that dream to life.

Cheers!

62

 

 

    Comments

  • Alfonso


    the key to a successful wine blog is to keep posting. That's where the rubber meats the road and sorts the wheat from the chaff…

    • 1WineDude


      Ah, Alfonso – but success defined as…? For some people, a lot of people, success is simply the journaling itself. In which case, well, success is to keep posting. Ok, never mind… ;-)

      • Jason


        I'd say consistent posting is only half of the key to a successful wine blog (whether you define "successful" as "influential" or just "personally fulfilling").

        The second half is making sure your posts are helpful to whoever is going to read them – whether that's your current audience, your intended audience, or yourself.

  • Damon


    why not just use Cellartracker? (or something similar?)

    • 1WineDude


      Damon – a great choice. But that's really only tasting notes, though the new design may offer a bit more social interaction and be an alternative to blogging software for those who are primarily concerned with chronicling their tastings.

  • @mowineforu


    You inspire me Joe every time. Eric Asimov said it best at the WBC "Never listen to the asshole next to you".

    Mo Wine!

    • Todd - VT Wine Media


      …but, but, but, I had such a nice time talking to him during the awards dinner. ;)

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, Mo!

  • Todd - VT Wine Media


    Hear, Hear!
    There was a lot of talk at WBC11 about the democratization of wine information via the blogosphere…for that vision to become reality, we must continue to post, and also recruit new talent as well. Activity spreads the word for the industry, and increases the chances that a consumer will find someone, or triangulate more than one person, who resonates with them. There are plenty of thirsty consumers to go around, and to use Vaynerchuck's "Crush It!" math (loosely applied in rough example):
    Historically: if there were a billion wine searchers in the world, 10 people have dominated the transfer of knowledge to the consumers…that's 100,000,000 per source.
    Today: just over a 1000 bloggers speaking to that same base is a million per.
    Future: 10,000 sources with followings of 100,000.

  • Todd - VT Wine Media


    simple order of magnitude exercise, and does not factor-in increased information transfer growing the consumer base. Are there enough eyeballs to go around? Probably…
    There are many different modes through which people can be informed, and maybe this is where Asimov suggested dropping the tasting notes. Not only are we in a new age regarding how information is distributed, but just maybe we have the opportunity to move outside the normal conveyance box, and do more interesting things ( ie http://www.chateaupetrogasm.com/ – I sure wish they would stay busier…love the concept ).

    • 1WineDude


      THanks, Todd – though we need to be cautious on that math, it's not that the eyeballs will be equally distributed… but the main point is certainly sound. Cheers!

      • Todd - VT Wine Media


        for sure, only meant as an example of scale…
        Even though we have been encouraged to write for a nationa /l global audience, many of us have local demographics that we are associated with, and sizes will certainly vary…

  • @TeachUsWine


    We started a blog to journal about learning about wine and it is just for fun. Who knows where it will take us but the point was really just to put our thoughts down so they arent lost.

    • 1WineDude


      Good luck, Teach!

  • @wineywomen


    Wheew! I am good to go… Don't claim to be the best! Just want to have fun and give people a different perspective on tasting wines… Let them know that even people like me can "Whore" themselves out to hopefully start getting free wine… Although I did from one winery i never met before… I have fun and it comes across in my blogging! I love it!

    Great post!

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, @wineywomen – and good luck!

  • Karl Laczko


    Hey Joe….exactly what is wrong with pounding sandy soil in some Hungarian vineyard? :)

    Great post. You're right that WordPress, Posterous & the like make it almost a crime for people not to develop an online presence, and if wine is their thing then why not a wine journal/blog? It's nice to have a readership, but if that's why you're starting it then it's usually going to end badly – write for yourself and the rest be damned!

    Richard PF is right though, it is a lot of work to keep regular postings, even more if you are keen to write about things that other people MAY be interested in. I don't subscribe tot he "post regularly" philosophy if the majority of the posting is banal, keep it focussed, keep it interesting (for you if nothing else) and don't turn it into the blogging equivalent of "Good morning" every post – content is king, even if it's only relevant to you and your friends.

    • 1WineDude


      Karl – well, I wouldn't mind pounding that sand with my shoes en route to a wine tasting in Hungary! :)

      Richard is right, it's hard work, discipline is required… but nothing worth it is ever an easy ride.

  • RichardPF


    I guess it would be fair to say "bullsh*t" to a couple of your own statements in this post. :)
    1) "..almost certainly will up your wine appreciation and wine tasting I.Q. score.." BS, it is far from an "almost certainty" that will occur. It has the "potential" but it is up the blogger whether they take that opportunity or not.
    2) "If you do happen to attract an audience, then the game changes significantly: you then owe it to yourself, your readers and the entire wine industry to continually improve your tasting, writing, and reporting skills (not to mention increasing your overall wine knowledge)." BS, there is no such obligation. If I play roller hockey with my buddies & suddenly have 1000 fans watching, I still have no obligation to become a better player. I may have the desire, but it is far from an obligation. I can always just play, or blog, for fun.

    It would also benefit new wine bloggers to know that it is work. Writing in your blog takes time and effort, even if you do it for just the fun.

    • 1WineDude


      Richard – empirically, you're correct, of course. But I would argue that the odds are WAY in favor of someone learning more if they are thinking / writing doing.

      As for having a responsibility once you have an audience – you may choose not to accept that responsibility, but if you do so then I'd argue that you're being kind of a douchebag! :)

      • Richardpf


        What is the source of this supposed responsibility? There is no law or written rule. Are you saying it s an ethical obligation? If so, what source states such an obligation exists? It might be your own personal ethic code, but that applies only to you. You cannot oblige someone else due to your own ethics. I may agree with you it would be better if they did all things, but they have absolutely no obligation to do so.

        What is your audience limit? Does your obligation kick in at 10 readers? 100? 1000? Again, another very arbitrary determination.

        • 1WineDude


          Richard – ethical and professional, yes. Legal, no. As for audience size, it is arbitrary, but once you have influence, then I think there is a responsibility to that audience that is implied. Whether you choose to ignore that or not I think will largely determine how or even if that audience will grow.

          I never said here that there are hard & fast or legal rules – and I agree that there are probably none. But that doesn't mean that there won't be ethical or professional precedent set already by successful bloggers. Certainly from my experience, if you ignore totally the trust given you by a readership then you are drilling large holes in your own blogging boat.

          • RichardPF


            Frankly, all that ethical/professional talk is BS. Bloggers can't even agree on major ethical issues, never mind something as ambiguous as audience responsibility. You have seen the prior battles over blogger ethics before. No blogger ethical/professional precedent exists, it is merely your own creation. The simple fact is that if someone wants to blog, and does not care whether they have an audience or not, they have no obligation to those who choose to read them. Their readership may eventually abandon them, but that blogger doesn't care. He is doing it only for himself. If he wants to grow an audience, then there are certain practices he should adopt, but that is not an ethical issue either, simply good sense.

            • 1WineDude


              Richard – “If he wants to grow an audience, then there are certain practices he should adopt, but that is not an ethical issue either, simply good sense.” That makes sense. I suppose the ethical argument in that case is kind of a slippery slope.

            • 1WineDude


              Richard – I should add that I take the responsibility thing very seriously, even if it is not technically a moral precedent. :)

  • Mom


    Here, here!! :)

  • Amy @ VineSleuth


    Here, Here!!
    Bring 'em on and encourage the creativity! :)

  • Jeff Alexander


    Right on, Joe. I'm living proof of this. I can't say how much I've learned about wine and myself by launching blogs. I've become a stronger writer too….bonus.

  • @mutineermag


    #Wine bloggers FTW!!

  • 1WineDude


    Amy / Jeff / Mutineer / Mom – YES! SOLIDARITY!!!! :-)

    The more the merrier, in my opinion. Let the naysayers go gnash their teeth Old Testament style. :)

  • Scott


    I couldn't agree more Joe! Starting a wine blog, for me, was a total whim. It has turned out to be one of the funnest, most rewarding things I have done in years. And yes, it seems inevitably I have learned a TON about writing, wine, and even staying committed. It is work, but it is a blast. Anyone with a slight interest should give it a chance.

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, Scott – a nice testament to the power of blogging when it comes to super-charging learning!

  • Pilar


    I like your thinking Joe. Wine is so much more accessible now than ever before. For the most part you can taste your way around the world to some small yet incredible regions and share the experience.

    I am fortunate to live in a fairly small wine region called the Ribera del Duero in Spain. Some of the wines here are extraordinary but the possibility exists to become totally focused and never venture outside of what's known and comfortable.

    The idea has a lot of merit and it's certainly causing a good conversation. Looking forward to reading your blog more in the coming months.

    • 1WineDude


      Gracias, Pilar!

  • Jeff


    I think it goes without saying that writing a blog even if it's for an audience of 3 people does instill learning because you're finding out what you don't know which begets research. The learning process is the true value of writing … anything.

    • 1WineDude


      Jeff – agreed! But apparently based on some of the comments it does not go entirely without saying. :)

  • G.E. Guy


    Joe – awesome post! After writing about WBC we had several readers comment "gee, I wish *I* was a wine blogger." Well, go for it! It's not like we passed a test or anything. It's been a lot of fun and a side benefit is that it's really improved my writing for my day job. And my Photoshop skills, actually.

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, G.E. "It's not like we passed a test or anything" – both the strength and the bane of blogging summed up right there! :)

  • Sally


    Really enjoyed the debunking of so many social media and wine myths here.

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, Sally.

  • Ron Washam, HMW


    And, of course, the best reason to start a wine blog is because it feels so good when you quit!

    • 1WineDude


      Well, Ron – I’m looking forward to retirement…

  • joeshico


    Great post and much thanks, Joe. I've heard and seen too much "anti-wine blogging" comments since I started my blog to really sometimes wonder if it is worth it. What started out as just a personal blog became more of a learning tool about wine for me. I never took a wine class of any type, nor do I want too. I do care that it attracts readers, but that's just ego. It was never intended to be a money maker, just a hobby. It is sometimes more work than I thought it would be, but unlike my day job, I don't have an obligation or even a plan of action.
    The blog has been somewhat successful, but OK that's nice. What is really been important, at least to me, is what I've learned and the friends I made and the enjoyment I have doing the blog.
    Besides, it helps with the withdrawal from other on-line addictions.

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, Joe. I suppose the journey is almost everything in life, and anything that helps enhance those journeys is worth spending some time on. Cheers!

  • @WineWonkette


    Right On, Brother!

    • 1WineDude


      Cheers, Amy – great seeing you at #WOWFest !

  • @insideiwm


    Not only do I agree, I wrote a post on the Italian Wine Merchants blog that endorses your views–and gives further reasons why writing a wine blog is a good idea.

    • 1WineDude


      @insideiwm – Thanks. Link, please?

  • Craigk8


    Late post but just caught up on the RSS feed. @1WineDude, you pretty much nailed it on the value of an amateur wine blog (mine included). amateur writing, nothing that others haven't discovered before but TONS of learning that the blogger never knew before – love having a record of that. kudos sir!

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks Craig!

  • Herzog Wine Clubs


    Follow your passion… and if it be wine and blogging the same rule applies to learn it best…. drink and post frequently and grow by doing!!

    • 1WineDude


      Amen, Herzog.

  • onegirloneglassoneworld


    I wish I would have found this sooner! I've been doubting my own wine blog lately, the people I'm reaching, etc., and thinking, "Is it even worth it???"

    After reading this, I've realized just what I've learned and taken away from my venture into wine blogging…an enhanced sense of what to look for in wine…what I like and don't like in wine (hell and be damned what others may think!!)…and most importantly, be a voice as a consumer. I work for a major, mid-level department store and I tell my customers every single day, "Let us know what you think of your shopping experience by taking our survey!"…but how many of them actually speak their mind? To me, my blog is that opportunity to speak my mind about a wine, change my attitude towards a producer (Kendall-Jackson is the biggest one in my case…went from a negative experience to a positive one) or just experience something new.

    Even if I only reach two or three people with my blog…those are two or three people who may not have thought about that wine when they were in a grocery store, or at a restaurant or winery.

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, onegirloneglassoneworld – you never know where the blog journey will take you, or who you might help out along the way.

      For what it's worth, I thought *several* times about giving up this blog over the last 4+ years. But amazing things can happen if you stick it out and get over those humps.

      If you'll allow me to get all Zen on you for a second, it's been said that we move from total dependence on others, to wanting to be independent, and that both are illusions – the truth and reality are that we are all interdependent (and eerily, there are versions of quantum theory, particularly in the discipline of string theory, that support this view scientifically). I see blogging – well, really good blogging, anyway! – as an embracing of that interdependence. We can help each other by sharing what we know, and blogging makes that pretty easy to do.

      Cheers!

  • @CambWineBlogger


    Nice piece – I've been blogging on wine for almost 3 years now and have learnt a lot in doing it, even if it has become a little addictive at times.

    Have met some very inspiring people and tried some great and varied wines.
    http://cambridgewineblogger.blogspot.com/

    Cheers, Tom

    • 1WineDude


      Cheers, Tom. For me, the wines have been great, but the people involved have far eclipsed the awesomeness of the wines!

  • @regularwino


    Starting a wine blog was definitely one of my better decisions, although I can't claim as many years as Tom above.

    I started mine as I had a gap of several months between two wine tasting courses and wanted something to tie me over – basically so I didn't stop learning. I thought that the challenge of wine would encourage me to continually keep learning, tasting and reading other people's blogs.

    It has and I've come across some very intelligent and helpful blogs in the process (which I try to reference as much as possible on my own).

    So definitely start a wine blog and more importantly, if you want to connect with me and chat wine, do a guest wine review, guest post etc, please get in touch
    http://www.regularwino.com/

    • 1WineDude


      @regularwino – To me, that is a *perfect* reason to start a wine blog. Cheers!

  • Suzanne @TheWineabe


    Great reading this post. I started my wine blog about a month ago…I don't know squat about wine…I just love it! I hope to keep my blog fun and geared towards most that don't have any knowledge or experience with wine. Who knows where it will go, but I'm enjoying it in the mean time. Thanks for the support!

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, Suzanne – and best of luck!

  • Dusty


    I had a thought to do a blog when I first got into wine blogs take so much time! I don't know how you put this together so well and still have other free time (if you do!).

    • 1WineDude


      Dusty – it ain't easy! :)

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