I Got a Bottle of Wine—What that Means

I received a bottle of 2004 Bishop’s Peak Rock Solid Red from the UPS man today. Brian Talley sent it to me with information about the wine. It was sent in the hopes that I would review it. (Thank you very much, Brian!) There a few things I want to say about this.

First, I want to say upfront that I do not review wine at Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog. The reasons are many, but let me hit the highlights. First, being in public relations and working with a number of wineries I would be stumbling upon a huge conflict of interest if I started passing judgment on the wines of my clients competitors. This is not to say that I’ve not bumped up against conflicts of interest on other issues while writing. However, the kind of conflict of interest that results from reviewing wine I simply must avoid.

I’m pretty sure I would increase my readership if I reviewed wines here on a regular basis. As it is now, the reader ship of this blog tends to be heavily skewed toward those in the wine industry or on its periphery. By reviewing wines, I’d certainly have a better shot at broadening that readership with more consumers looking for advice on what to buy. I’ll just have to leave those readers on the table.

Second, I’m not convinced that my palate is anywhere near as good as many other bloggers or wine reviewers out there who do review wine on a regular basis. Let’s face it, does the world need another mediocre palate telling others what to buy? I don’t think so, particularly when there are so many astoundingly talented people a the wine glossies, blogs, newspapers and newsletters currently offering that advice.

Another thing that needs to be reiterated is the very fact that a winery sent this blogger a bottle to review. It’s not the first I’ve received for this purpose by any means. And I know for a fact that other wine bloggers are receiving samples on a regular basis. What this means is that the blogging community is attracting an audience that wineries and importers believe is significant enough and wine savvy enough to justify the hope that various bloggers will review the wine.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of these samples-receiving bloggers were unknown only two years ago. Now they are playing a role, if a very small one, in various people’s marketing strategy. For those bloggers out there reading this, you should know that the attention being paid to you is only going to increase over the next several months and years. To the wineries reading this, I would note that your attention to bloggers is well founded…however, be selective. To non-winery and non-blogging readers, you should note that the it is likely your favorite bloggers are going to have more and more access to information that will make your current confidence in them even more justified.

At WineBlogWatch you can count approximately 300 wine blogs being monitored. There are undoubtedly others out there not yet picked up by Wine Blog Watch. Although I can not estimate the number of pairs of eyeballs that are reading these blogs (someone really should try), I can say it’s many many thousands of folks.

The wine media is a curious literary genre. Part science writing, part criticism, part story telling, part consumer watchdog. I wonder almost daily where it is leading, if it is really any different from other types of wine media. Clearly it is different from purely an architectural perspective. The way in which the medium allows us to "publish" instantaneously" is different from traditional wine media. The content too is largely more personality-driven: we tend to know more about the inner workings of bloggers than we do about folks like Robert Parker, Matt Kramer, David Darlington or Dan Berger. This is surely a result of the difference in the way blogs are published.

Where it is leading is a different question than what it is or how it is organized, and it’s a more difficult question to answer. I do know this however, wine blogging is leading wineries and wine lovers down a new path, one that is at once familiar yet also has has the promise of leading to some sort of reorganization of the genre.

3 Responses

  1. Ryan Scott - October 12, 2006

    Wineblogging will lead us back into wines that aren’t just built for Robert Parker’s tastebuds..wines will be popular among us commoners because another of us likes it..

  2. Ryan Scott - October 13, 2006

    …I’m still waiting for my first bottles…

  3. Julian - October 17, 2006

    Even if I had a bit of thinking time, I don’t reckon I could be as clear-sighted and impartial and, blast it, humble as yourself. Thank you for Fermentation!

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