Wine Bloggers Are Bought and Paid For
In case you didn’t know it…
WINE BLOGGERS ARE BOUGHT AND PAID FOR!
WINE BLOGS ARE REGULARLY INFILTRATED BY WINERIES POSTING GREAT REVIEWS OF THEIR OWN WINES ON OTHER PEOPLE’S BLOGS
YOU CAN’T TELL WHAT CONTENT ON A WINE BLOG IS INDEPENDENT AND WHAT IS PAID FOR.
BLOGS HAVE NO QUALITY CONTROL OF THEIR CONTENT
MOST OF WHAT’S IN THE WINE BLOGOSPHERE IS RUBBISH
WINE BLOGGERS DON’T DELIVER FRESH IDEAS
How do I know all this is the case? I read it in an article published in a wine trade magazine.
I consume A LOT of wine media: magazines, newspaper articles, blogs, retailer websites, radio show, television. I have 3 separate services sending wine articles to me via email, and I pay for two of them— thousands of dollars of year in fact. I’ve been consuming wine media at this rate for more than 15 years. I say this to note that I have some bona fides on the subject of the wine media. I mention this in order to assert that if anyone is qualified to call an article about wine "CRAP", it’s me.
Well, THIS IS CRAP!
All the claims made above about wine blogs come from this article in Wine & Spirit, a UK trade magazine (NOT the outstanding American consumer wine magazine that operates in the plural). And with these serious claims not a single shred of evidence is offered. The author is Claire Hu. She should know better.
From the article:
"As well as major retailers and suppliers trying to get in on the act
with their own blogs, the bloggers are being offered cash in return for
favourable product reviews on their sites. And a US supplier that
regularly posts favourable reviews of its own products on bloggers’
sites is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s becoming increasingly hard
to distinguish which content is independent and which is commercially
Forgive me if I request a peek at the rest that iceberg.
Woops….I spoke too soon, here is Ms. Claire’s evidence a couple paragraphs down:
"Others, though, do accept cash from merchants and suppliers in return
for reviews. At great personal risk to himself (imagine hundreds of
wine nerds descending on your home), Charles Short, of
cluelessaboutwine.co.uk, has decided to lift the lid on what he sees as
the hijacking of the editorial integrity of wine blogs. "You have a lot
of wine companies asking if you can write about products for £15 or
£50," he says. "You have to submit your piece for approval before it
goes up. Lots of companies are trying to do product placements on
blogs. But I don’t want to compromise my integrity for a bottle of
I’m sure we are all very proud of Mr. Short’s integrity in this matter. However, I’m still looking to see if we are talking about an iceberg or just an ice cube floating in the ocean. This is as close as Ms. Hu gets to backing up her claim that "Other…do accept cash from merchants and suppliers in return for reviews".
Now get a load of this little piece of disingenuous hackery. In advance of discussing Stormhoek’s use of blogs and the Internet to promote their brand, Hu writes the following:
"The more intelligent companies are starting to grasp how to use
blogging as a marketing tool themselves, rather than infiltrating other
She makes it out to seem that blogs are "infiltrated" or used by wineries and retailers on a regular basis. Where’s the evidence? I dare say this kind of shoddy writing is what happens when you don’t have a press release from an advertiser or or supplier to rely on to help you formulate your thoughts in preparation for penning something that quite kindly might be called journalism.
This piece in Wine & Spirit is presented as "An Investigation" into wine blogging and is offered to the readership of Wine & Spirit that consists primarily of the UK wine trade. Maybe there is some sort of real investigative piece that I missed. Who knows. But, what a tragedy that what is probably this magazine’s first significant article on wine blogging is at the same time such a deliberate hatchet job performed by an agenda-wielding "writer" with clearly little or no understanding of her subject matter. What? You ask, "Tom, where’s the evidence Ms. Hu has an agenda?" Evidence? I don’t need no stinking evidence.
There are a number of really great wine magazines out there that serve consumers and the wine trade. And more arrive ever year. But even so, I’d argue that one of the reasons that wine blog readership is increasing is due in part to articles just like this one. You read something like this and you become disillusioned with the ability of traditional wine magazines to actually cover any subject with any competence. This disappointment doesn’t deter you from satisfying your interest in wine. But it does spur you to look for something with more credibility. And while there might be a certain amount of inanity masquerading as content on wine blogs, one thing that wine blogs do offer is honesty. They have to if they want any readership at all because they can’t rely on the perceived authority that is granted to writers who’s words appears on paper but who, as this article makes clear, have none at all.
(A tip of the hat to Robert at Wine Conversation for alerting me to this story and where he has some comments to make on the topic at hand)