Bloggerview #27: Jeremy Parzen
Who: Jeremy Parzen
Blog: Do Bianchi
You have to appreciate a guy who will reference Pliny, Walter Benjamin and Richard Pryor in one, single sentence. Jeremy Parzen, the author of Do Bianchi, strikes me as an internationalists, even though his blog tends to focus on the world of Italian wine and food. He and his blog first came to my attention when it was nominated by a number of folks in the American Wine Blog Awards. What I found was a Pro! What you get reading Jeremy's Do Bianchi blog is the opportunity to dive into the mind of a professional writer and experienced thinker as they probe the world of wine, food and custom from an Italian perspective. Do Bianchi is a perfect example of what great blogging looks and feels like.
1. When did you begin blogging and why?
In June, 2006. I began blogging to keep a journal of what I ate and drank and where, when, and with whom.
2 In two sentences describe the focus of your wine blog.
Do Bianchi offers readers a humanist perspective into the world of Italian wine and food. It also covers food and wine from other parts of the world, from Europe to the Southwest U.S., spicing it up with music, literature, and pop culture.
3. What sets your wine blog apart from the pack?
My background as a scholar of Italian and Italian literature and my professional and academic interest in Italian gastronomy and viticulture paired with my knowledge of the Italian language, and my deep connection to Italy and Italians. Add music, literature, and my invitation to readers to "reconsider pop culture as an Epicurean movement," as Le Monde put it, and everyone is confused!
4. How would you characterize the growth in your readership since beginning your blog?
It began as many blogs do, with me emailing my friends alerting them to new blog posts. But when I switched from a static html-based site to WordPress.com, people started to find my blog and my readership has been growing pretty steadily since then. That was in June 07.
5. Do you accept sample for review?
I certainly would but nobody ever offers! I'm serious!
6. What kind of wine rating/review system do you use and why?
I rarely write about wines that I don't like. I think that one of the cardinal rules of food and wine writing (and I used to be an editor at a food magazine and have written for many print journals) is that you should write about what you like and not write negatively about things you don't like. I occasionally will suggest avoiding certain wines and I try to keep the perspective, "even though I don't like it, it doesn't mean someone else doesn't." I am certainly not a fan of scores or ratings: I think that the value of every single bottle of wine and every single glass depends on the context — the time, place, people, pairing, and situation. It's not quantitative, it's qualitative. Even I drink Veuve Clicquot… well, at weddings…
7. How do you fit the maintenance of your wine blog into your daily schedule?
I generally get up at the crack of dawn and I make a point of writing something every day (even if I'm not posting that day, I save the post and post when I'm ready). As Pliny and Walter Benjamin used to say, nulla dies sine linea, no day without a line. I think that Richard Pryor used to say that, too.
8. Have you utilized any particular techniques to successfully market your blog?
Collegiality. I think the best way to spread awareness of your blog is by reading and commenting on others's blogs and most importantly by linking to others's posts in your own.
9. In your view how, if at all, is blogging different than traditional wine writing for print?
Do they still print wine writing? The whole nature of cartaceous food and wine writing has been turned on its head. If only Marshall McLuhan were here today to see how blogging has changed the surface and shape of the world! I think that the most important innovations and divergences are immediacy and access: all you need is a computer and an internet connection and you can become a wine writer and your writing reaches readers/visitors without any mediation. It used to be that when I wrote an article for a magazine, at least two editors would read it, a proof reader would read it, and I would read and re-read it over and over again. Now my only editor is Tracie B!
10. Which other wine blogs do you read regularly?
There are more than 100 blogs in my Google Reader, literally, and it's the post titles that really draw me in. My favorite blogs, i.e., the ones I follow closely, are as follows, in alphabetical order: Brooklyn Guy , Consumazione Obbligatoria, Dirty South, Divino Scrivere, In Vino Veritas, McDuff's Food and Wine Trail, Montalcino Report, My Life Italian, On the Wine Trail in Italy, Reflections on Wine, Rockss and Fruit, Saignée, The Pour, The Buzz, Vino al Vino, Vinsanity, Wine Digger, and, of course, your blog Tom, Fermentation. I also like to stare vacantly at Vinograf, a blog that I cannot read.
11. Do you believe wine blogs have made any marked impact on the wine industry or wine culture?
Yes, most definitely. Alder has done amazing things with Vinography, as has Tyler with Dr. Vino. They've made wine so much more accessible to so many more people. In the case of Alder by offering a high-bandwidth educational and informational site and in the case of Tyler, by making wine writing entertaining for a wider range of people and digesting wine news and trends by means of user generated content. Wine blogging has also opened a whole new field of viral marketing for wine. Fermentation is a great example of that. And, of course, blogging, for all its imperfections, has also brought a new transparency to the wine industry. Franco's Vino al Vino, for example, has broken so many important stories in the world of Italian wine — stories that the mainstream press shunned and consequently had to report.
12. Vacation: Paris or the Caribbean?
Tracie B and I drink great wine when were in Paris. If we ever went to the Caribbean, I'm sure we'd drink beer (although Lambrusco would be awesome in the Tropics). So, I'm gonna go with Paris, Bob.
13. Pet: Do
g or Cat?
I've never heard anyone say that a wine smelled like "wet cat" so I'll definitely have to go with dogs on this one, Bob.
14. Airplane Reading: New Yorker or People?
The New Yorker is definitely one of my guilty pleasures during plane travel. The Wine Spectator often accompanies me to the bidet.
15. Car: Prius or BMW?
As much as my grandfather would choke at the thought of me driving a German-made car, I'm going to have to go with the BMW, Bob. I think the Prius is a lie.
16. Chablis or California Chardonnay?
I actually tasted some California Chardonnay that I liked for the first time over the last year. But I can't afford it. So, I'm going to go with Chablis, Bob. Seriously, I love and drink a lot of Chablis.
17. Describe what you would have at your last meal?
I get this a lot but the answer never changes: zampone (head cheese stuffed in a pig trotter and boiled), mostarda (spicy picked fruit), stewed lentils, potato purée (made with Parmigiano Reggiano), and Lambrusco.
18. What is Heaven Like?
Heaven is like playing a solo on my Carruthers custom Johnny Mercer tele (mint green pickgard, 52 Seymour Duncan re-issues, maple neck with rosewood inlay) through my 1969 pre-CBS Princeton and seeing Tracie B in the audience smiling. Heaven is also like drinking 1991 Coulée de Serrant and watching her eyes light up as she tastes the wine. I am not at liberty to comment any further, Tom.
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?
Federico Fellini, Luigi Veronelli, Paolo Monelli, and Maestro Martino. Veronelli and Monelli would bring the wine, Martino would cook. (Federico Fellini, not because he's my favorite Italian director. He's not, although he is one of the greatest: I cry every time I see La strada. But because he was from Emilia-Romagna.)
20. What advice would you give to someone considering starting a wine blog?
Go for it. I think that everyone should have a blog. I could have never imagined the rewards — personal and professional — that blogging has brought and nearly everyday, some new cosmic connection seems to come of it. Dive in, heads first; write as much as you can; and be an active part of the community — good things will come of it.