Bloggerview #18: BrooklynGuy’s Wine & Food Blog
Who: Neil From Brooklyn
Blog: BrooklynGuy’s Wine Blog
Neil’s BrooklynGuy’s Wine & Food Blog always struck me as the prototypical wine blog. What’s you’ve got here is someone relating their every day experience with wine. You are discovering what they discover. Tasting what they taste. But…This Guy really does do it so damn well, in large part because his writing is so filled with an authentic voice that it’s very difficult to simply dismiss as another wine blog. The posts tend to be long. Anybody who has spent any time at Fermentation will know I’m not opposed to long posts. But as a reader, the article needs to be compelling for me to following down the page. I never fail to follow The BrooklynGuy’s words down the page.
1. When did you begin blogging and why?
I started in September of 2006. I was reading a lot about wine in my down time and I wanted to learn more about the wines of the Loire Valley and Burgundy, but I wasn’t seeing a whole lot about those areas in blogs. I remember thinking “maybe I could write about those wines,” but I didn’t, because who am I to write about wine? I found myself wanting to participate in Wine Blogging Wednesday, and that was the final push for me to start my own blog.
2. In two sentences describe the focus of your wine blog.
My blog focuses on my experiences as I learn about wine and I try to make it as personal as I can by including whatever details are (and sometimes are not) appropriate from my life. I drink more French wine than anything else, and I try to identify and recommend good wines at various price points.
3. What sets your wine blog apart from the pack?
I wrote and rewrote the answer to this question like 6 times, literally. I wrote about how I am a systems thinker and I try to bring that to the blog. About how I care about healthy food and unprocessed wine. About how my blog is better as a marathon and not as a sprint. About the lighter style of red wines that I prefer. And then I realized this: what really sets it apart is the same set of contradictions that define me in real life. I take things very seriously but I make fun of myself and of everything else if I can. I’m respectful but I’m also a real smart-ass. I believe in the establishment but I also think it can go get bent. I cry at the movies and generally am a real softie, but I can scrap with the big boys if I have to. I love the idea of luxurious dining at fine restaurants but I hate shaving and prefer messy clothes. I feel confident about what I know but I love to ask questions and to learn. I’m not into standing on a soapbox but I believe strongly in eating and drinking healthy, and I’ll tell you so every chance that I get. This stuff shows up in my blog somehow – I hope.
4. How would you characterize the growth in your readership since beginning your blog?
Slow growth for a while, but then Eric Asimov included me on his blogroll and things picked up. Then stayed level for a while, until for some reason things picked up again last summer, and after a few notable bloggers mentioned my blog in their Fermentation Bloggerviews, things picked up even more. But you know what – high readership isn’t my goal. I didn’t start blogging with the fantasy of having lots of people watch me. My goal is to learn, and to interact with other people who also care very much about learning about wine. If other people find this interesting and want to follow along and interact with me, I welcome that.
5. Do you accept samples for review?
Yes but only if I get to write or not write whatever I want regarding the wine.
6. What kind of wine rating/review system do you use and why?
I don’t use ratings on my blog. If I did I would be suggesting that I have the breadth of tasting experience to rate a wine among its peers, and I most often do not. And in the very few instances that I actually do have that experience, I prefer to tell whatever story I have with the wine, and let that speak for itself. There are plenty of other places to go for ratings.
7. How do you fit the maintenance of your wine blog into your daily schedule?
I run my own business out of a home office. The boss inside of me is usually pretty cool about allotting a little time each day to the blog.
8. Have you utilized any particular techniques to successfully market your blog?
Nope. I’ve done nothing other than actually writing the thing.
9. In your view how, if at all, is blogging different than traditional wine writing for print?
I don’t read much traditional wine writing for print except for NY Times tasting panel articles, so I cannot say for sure, but blogging is different in that it should offer an assessment of wine that is completely free from any outside interests of any kind. Wine writing in traditional print is like any other job – you have to maintain relationships with people in order to be successful. That probably precludes people from writing negative reviews.
10. Which other wine blogs do you read regularly?
I look at lots of blogs regularly, including all of the usual suspects. But the ones I read most carefully, the ones that most inform my learning about wine include The Pour, Alice Feiring, Rockss and Fruit, McDuff’s Food and Wine Trail, Wine Terroirs, and The Wine Doctor (not a blog, exactly, but close enough). Everyday reads also include Doktor Weingolb, Joes Wine Journal, Fork and Bottle (also not a blog exactly, but close enough) and Lenndevours as I’ve become friendly with the authors over time and I like to see what they’re up to each day.
11. Do you believe wine blogs have made any marked impact on the wine industry or wine culture?
No one who I drink wine with cares about Parker scores, or any other scores for that matter. The scores are important, but mostly because they help retailers sell wine to people who do not have the time or inclination to actually think about wine. Maybe bloggers are speaking to the rest of us.
12. Vacation: Paris or the Caribbean?
Is this some sort of joke?!? Paris, bien sur.
13. Pet: Dog or Cat?
Dogs are like big California Cabernet, always wagging their tails and slobbering everywhere. Cats are more like Chambolle-Musigny, soft, regal, mysterious, and far more complicated. And you can’t herd cats. I prefer cats.
14. Airplane Reading: New Yorker or People?
C’mon, gimme a break. The New Yorker.
15. Car: Prius or BMW?
16. Chablis or California Chardonnay?
Is this some sort of joke?!? Chablis. But lately I’m more into the wines of the Mâconnais.
17. Describe what you would have at your last meal?
It wouldn’t matter what I eat, as long as my wife and daughter are with me. But hopefully there would be some oysters involved, some interesting charcuterie, a simple soup made with home made stock, good bread and cheese, and lots of wine. And ice cream.
18. What is Heaven Like?
People on the subway hold onto their chicken bones and newspapers and put them in the garbage instead of dumping them on the floor of the train, and they turn their headphones down so I don’t have to listen to their music with them. Not high-minded enough for you? I’m a non-practicing reform Jew – what do I know from heaven?
19. If you could invite 4 people dead or alive to your fantasy dinner party, who would they be and who would you have bring the wine?
First of all, when I have a dinner party, I like to pick the wine. I would invite Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa, and César Chávez. Just kidding! I am not one of those people who imagines having dinner with other famous people. Maybe I would invite Alice Waters over, and President Bush too, and we could shop and cook together, and hopefully the Prez would have an epiphany and devote the rest of his term and then his life to making sure America’s children have healthy and fresh food to eat in school.
20. What advice would you give to someone considering starting a wine blog?
I will quote Alice Feiring here “Have a point of view other than what you drank last night.”