Should Everyone Really Be a Wine Critic?

Crit Why should you, the reader, give any credence to what I write on this blog? Why indulge in my version of reality by giving my words the time of day?

I'm not a professional writer? I don't get paid to write this blog. I don't have an editor that I have to satisfy.

I think the reason I have a decent readership is because it's pretty clear I have some sort of expertise in what I choose to write about, which is mainly wine PR, wine marketing, wine politics and the culture of wine. Let me say that again: I have some sort of expertise. Whether I'm entertaining is another question altogether.

This issue of what separates a professional wine writer from a blogger, what separates an amateur from a professional and what authority ought be granted to anyone writing about wine is explored in a fine article by Spencer Bailey in the Columbia Journalism Review entitled, "Everyone's The Wine Expert: Wine Critics and Bloggers, Professional and Amateur Are Mixed Up in the Social Media Web."

Baily observes, "These days, many young, social-media savvy bloggers are fragmenting
what was once a lofty territory reserved for mostly stalwart,
high-profile publications like
Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast….A number of amateur bloggers, for instance, now call themselves
critics. This is, some argue, a worrisome trend for the winemaking
industry itself, if not also for professional wine writing."

These statements are as true as the day is 24 hours. Measure the quality and competency of the wine writing community today, which includes a huge number of bloggers as well as shrinking crew of edited and well established wine writers, and it's impossible not to conclude that the average article about wine is less authoritative and more poorly researched, and therefore less beneficial to truth seekers, than was the average article of 20 years ago. Why is this? Simply because more amateurs with far less accomplishment, knowledge and perspective are writing about wine.

I want you to note something, however. I did not say that today's average wine article is less entertaining. One can entertain an audience of wine drinkers without much wine knowledge, if they are good writers.

Karen MacNeil, who is quoted in Baily's article really hits one of the shiny nails right on its head: “Maybe what blogging will do is undermine the whole idea that this is a
subject that is rich and deep and requires some substantive thought and
substantive knowledge."

This observation also falls under the heading of "just like there are 24 hours in the day."

There is no question in my mind that the proliferation of self anointed wine scribes will diminish the perception that a deep understanding of wine is possible and even required to be a true writer/educator that delivers value to the readers.

Joe Roberts, who blogs under the 1WineDude moniker makes the case in the article that a deep understanding of wine really isn't necessary to be a good and valuable wine writer: "Readers today have got to feel like the experts connect with them in some way. It’s not just, ‘Oh, this person’s got great credentials because they work for Wine Enthusiast.’"

I think Joe has a point, but I think that point applies to those consumers who want more to be entertained and have a very casual connection to wine, rather than those who want to be obtain knowledge.

Bailey makes the case, too, that this new crew of voice, serves an important purpose: "for too long not enough voices were heard….too much of wine writing was stale, appealing largely to the Baby Boomer crowd."

This rings untrue to me. Today's bloggers have yet to figure out a new way to write about wine. They've only figured out a new way to deliver commentary and criticism…via the blog. There are different, more casual styles, for sure. But in the end, most wine bloggers are merely putting the spit and shine of "publishing" on what is really not much more than the same conversations that wine lovers have been having for many long years before the emergence of the Internet.

Believe me, before the Internet, wine lovers talked about how wrong different wine critics were. They debated the meaning of terroir. They bitched and moaned about access to wine and bad corks. They offered their opinions on how various wine events could be improved. The vast majority of wine bloggers are simply doing the same thing, but in a quasi-publishing environment.

In my mind, the great value of the Internet and the wine blogosphere is that this medium is very likely to give voice to really that rare wine lover who knows his stuff and can communicate that stuff in elegant and insightful prose. It's from the blogosphere where the next Gerald Asher will come from. In fact, it's likely that it is from the blogosphere that that the Wine Spectator, Decanter, Wine Enthusiast and Wine & Spirits will find their next editor.

But these folks will make up the vast minority of bloggers.

I like Bailey's initial conclusion to the article:

"Wine is, after all, a complex drink, and it needs to be analyzed in a
complex way, usually by someone with a deep understanding of wine or by
someone with credentials, such as a WSET advanced degree. Which means that while passionate amateur drinkers can
write about their experiences with a Bordeaux, say, they’d ideally be
able to do so with as much authority and understanding as a professional."

42 Responses

  1. Stevepaulo - May 19, 2010

    I, as one of these uninformed, potentially entertaining, uneducated amateur wine bloggers am partaking of the adventure because some day, I want to write professionally about wine. I am working towards a CSW and then will move on to WSET classes, but the experience of actually writing about wine, I think, is indispensible for me. If other people read my musings, “yay!” And if not, oh well. I certainly don’t have your readership, Tom.
    You make an interesting argument, incidentally, for the man who invented the Wine Blog Awards…

  2. Vintuba - May 19, 2010

    Great post Tom! I agree with the statement that wine bloggers have yet to find a new way to write about wine. We are all stuck in the farm leagues waiting for one of us to be called up to the majors. It is going to take someone who is smart, passionate, can write, and is creative to rise to the top. So many of us “bloggers” write for each other rather then for the wine drinking public at large. The time is ripe and right for change!

  3. tom merle - May 20, 2010

    I found your piece both provocative and a bit fuzzy. What do you mean by wine writing? Is it writing about the wine industry, wineries, varieties, vintners, travels to wine country, how to hold a wine tasting, all of the above plus, plus, none of the above.
    You seem to be saying that the activity requires both excellent writing skills and a deep knowledge about wine: types, growing conditions, cloning and the like. There was no mention of wine criticism, that is, evaluating the “quality” of wines.
    Each of us has a different benchmark. I like Steve Heimoff’s reference to Rod Smith who eschews the moniker of wine critic. Rod is just a damn good writer whose subject happens to be vino or more precisely the personalities and places that are involved in wine growing. He doesn’t care to opine about the merits of different current releases or older vintages. He has no academic credentials or certificates that reflect the ability to identify wines or regions in blind tastings. He just turns out pieces, or did, that use the English language very well and tell engrossing stories.
    Trying to capture the “complexity” of wine or analyze wine “in a complex way” would only confuse the Rodman, as would “authority” or even “professional understanding”. He might say that professionalism often times gets in the way of turning out an appealing essay. Understanding experience is what counts, and a blogger who may lack the initials but has insight and the capacity to communicate that insight in a fetching way might be able to pull this off.
    But in the end it is the marketplace that determines the whether one is a writer or a diarist. So those who write the books and the columns that enthusiasts will pay for are the only real wine writers, IMHO.

  4. Niklas Jörgensen - May 20, 2010

    Tom, loved your post and thanks for linking Spencer’s article. As a relative newcomer on the international wine blogging scene (having dropped writing in Swedish some months ago) I must say Vintuba is spot on when writing “…many of us “bloggers” write for each other rather then for the wine drinking public at large”.
    Now, of course there are those bloggers that already has reached next level and amongst them we will most likely see some being called up.
    I would never call myself a critic or expert, although i realize i have a more thorough knowledge than most when it comes to my main passion, Madeira. Rather has my postings on Madeira rewarded me with new contacts of like-minded on a global basis; nothing that would be possible not blogging, or writing in a less international language.
    So, wine critic or not, blogging has, in my case, made the wine world and all of its aficionados within reach. I didn’t have as dynamic and giving discussions with other like-minded before starting blogging. Am I satisfied with that? At the moment yes, but who knows what will come out of it in the future?

  5. Sasha - May 20, 2010

    Tom — really interesting post…and equally interesting comments. I’m a blogger who makes her real living outside the wine industry, and I’m pursuing (almost done!) my WSET diploma. This has given me a good knowledge base I can share with my readers in accessible, interesting prose. I agree there’s lots of mediocre and misleading wine blogging out there. But bloggers — the good ones — often have a leg up over wine writers in two important categories. First, value. If you don’t make your living in the wine industry, you understand that calling a $40 bottle of wine “a good value” is off-putting to a lot of consumers. Many wine writers are surrounded by expensive wine all day long (often that they’re not paying for), and they’ve lost a sense of what paying $40 for a bottle of wine means to a consumer. Even if the consumer can afford it, they need a compelling case to be made for why a wine costs that much — and what it may be worth it. Second, wine bloggers are better able to talk about people consume wine in their natural habitat. Bloggers write about how a bottle of wine tastes after it’s been open for a few days, what wine is good with what take-out food, etc. This is how people (at least the people I know who aren’t in the wine business) actually drink wine. You don’t see these themes as often in more formal print wine writing.

  6. Mark Osmun - May 20, 2010

    Hi Tom,
    Good topic. I think that Mr. Baily need not worry. A billion bloggers will not have a billion readers. In the long run, there will be a shakeout and a very few (dare we call them “elite”) blogs will end up being the trusted sources and command the lion’s share of readers–not unlike traditional media has been. The reason is in the numbers. We don’t really want more choices; we want fewer. We, the public, don’t have time to read even the relatively few blogs listed to the right>. We’ll chose just a few. The other possibility is that the audience will become as fragmented as the new media and each blog will get a mere handful of readers with no blogs commanding a major audience. (What an impossible challenge for marketers that would be). I’m betting on the former possibility. The cream will rise to the top. After all, I’m reading you.

  7. Thomas Pellechia - May 20, 2010

    This argument has officially become tiresome, but this post has at least given me something with which to agree with Tom Merle:
    “…in the end it is the marketplace that determines whether one is a writer or a diarist. So those who write the books and the columns that enthusiasts will pay for are the only real wine writers…”

  8. Patrick - May 20, 2010

    I most strongly agree with your statement that “it’s impossible not to conclude that the average article about wine is less authoritative and more poorly researched, and therefore less beneficial to truth seekers”
    I think that anyone with any range of wine knowledge or certification can be a good blogger of wine assuming that they stay within the breadth of their knowledge (and of course they’re a decent writer!). It’s too common to find bloggers as well as others throughout the industry (tasting room staff, sales and production folk) expressing opinions and “facts” of things they haven’t taken the time to fully understand. This does a great job of spreading the abundance of misinformation and confusion surrounding wine for the entry-level consumer.

  9. Randy - May 20, 2010

    If one buys a bottle of wine and decides to share their feelings about it with friends and family, then they are a legit critic… Perhaps the wine writing/critique today is less technical and posibly less informed, however you can’t argue with opinion, passion for a topic and one’s desire to share. In some ways, less tech or formal education on a topic is more profound and more impressionable.

  10. Richard - May 20, 2010

    You wrote “Whether I’m entertaining is another question altogether.”
    You are quite entertaining – in fact, one of the most pithy and entertaining “wine writers” out there.

  11. David Honig - May 20, 2010

    I disagree. Pick up any edition of Wine Spectator or Wine Enthusiast and compare it to another edition from one year ago, five years, ago, or ten years ago. How much great wine writing is there? Or are they just the same stories with different names and pictures?
    ______ vineyard is located in the heart of _____. ______, who took over from his father _____, has been running operations for ____ years. He/his father began to focus on organic/sustainable/biodynamic farming ___ years ago, and since then the wine has seen steady improvement.
    ____ waxes poetic about this year’s vintage, which he describes at the best in his lifetime/since the last mega-vintage. “The weather was perfect,” ____ said. We had drought in the spring, hail mid-summer, and torrential downpours during the harvest, but anybody who practiced careful grape selection was able to produce a vintage they could be proud of. “We culled through the grapes in the vineyard and again on the table,” ____ said, showing the meticulous care the ____ family has always taken with their wine.
    Yada yada yada.
    Now look at the good stuff written on line. Not all of it, but the good stuff. Compare the above to darned near anything Jeff Lefevere writes about wine marketing, and tell me where the “good writing” can be found.
    Dinosaurs moaning about the asteroid.

  12. Samantha Dugan - May 20, 2010

    Tom you know I adore you but this argument is beginning to feel like a game of Duck-Duck-Goose. I’ve grown tired of running around in circles, makes me dizzy and doesn’t accomplish anything. Going to go play on the swings now, I’m sure I will find out who’s “It” someday.

  13. Herrenhof - May 20, 2010

    so true!

  14. Greg Brumley - May 20, 2010

    Honorable Wark,
    I’d yet to read anything of yours with which I’ve disagreed…until this post.
    It seems to me we’ve been in a largely unhealthy environment. The domestic wine-drinking public has been dominated by just 2 or 3 Authorities on High (Parker, Wine Spectator and perhaps Tanzer/QRW). At least 2 of those 3 have palates which are distinctly unlike those of most wine drinkers. This has perpetuated the great Boogey Men of Wine which discourage consumers from exploring a glass: “I’m too ignorant of wine to enjoy it” and “I’m really put off by all this pretense”.
    Blogs liberate us from all that. They encourage a two-way communication with readers which the Authorities never do. In that give-and-take, a variety of perspectives are encouraged. In turn, this open environment encourages more people to try wine.
    I agree with David Honig that blogs encourage creativity in a writing environment which has become rather stale. It’s true that the cumulative writing quality is down compared to decades yore; but that’s because there are many times more writers. It will all shake out.
    Blogs have been devasting to quality national journalism in general (though that wasting disease was begun by cable). To a great degree, this had reduced national discourse to a dumbed down arena of screamers.
    But in wine, I think Blogs are proving a consumer stimulus. Do wine drinkers in France need an Authority to tell them what wine is good? I don’t think they do. For centuries, they’ve been such active consumers that they’re fully confident to make up their own minds. Blogs (and social media) are moving American consumers in that direction.
    My business is helping small wineries sell direct to customers. I’m afraid I’ve been something of a crumudgeon on social media. I encourage clients to consider social media a useful new side tool, but not to make it a main focus of their marketing effort. It doesn’t sell wine. In my view, it cannot establish the customer relationships small wineries require. Those relationships must begin with face-to-face or, at least, voice-to-voice contact. Once established, those relationships can be supported by social media.
    I talk with every Millennial I can. There’s no doubt they’re far more willing to try new wines than any generation in history. There’s no doubt they’re most influenced by one another — and that they virtually ignore the Authorities. There’s also no doubt they are a tiny portion of direct wine purchasers, and will be for some years. I thought Silicon Valley Bank’s latest State of the Wine Industry report expressed this very well. Millennials are the future of wine consumers, no doubt. Unfortunately, the wine industry is in no position to heavily invest in an “I’ll Gladly Pay You Tuesday for a Hamburger Today” future today.
    The data does indicate Gen X and Boomer wine consumers do use blogs & social media. But they use them primarily to attract and filter product information — and only secondarily to maintain relationships with wineries. This indicates even us old goats are becoming more discerning wine consumers.
    As social media evolves, so does small wineries’ understanding of what it will and won’t do for us.
    Wine consumers may now say with confidence, “I do not need someone with a WSET to tell me what I like”. The more egalitarian wine communication is, the more wine drinkers we’ll have. This creates a far healthier marketplace.
    For these reasons, I respectfully dissent.

  15. Tom Wark - May 20, 2010

    You say nice things about me. Thank you.
    The wine media has decidedly NOT been dominated by 2 or three palates. There have always been numerous alternatives wine loves could read, be they any of the various wine magazines, wine newsletters, or wine columnists. That more folks chose to read the Spectator and Parker was a choice, not a requirement.
    And I’m not at all convinced the Blogging community will “Shake out” primarily because it does not operate on a supply and demand model. Few if any wine bloggers stay blogging because they make a living at it. For that matter, few if any quit blogging because it not economical for them. There are no market factors invovled. More importantly, there are no barriers to entry.
    I don’t agree either that blogs are doing anything to move americans to a place where they no longer need or want an authority to help guide them. If this kind of transition IS happening, it is inspite of the fact that wine magazine circulation is increasing and because Americans have, over the past 25 to 30 years, become much more accustomed to many new flavors, textures and food cultures so that they are more confident in trying new things without so much angst involved in the process.

  16. Thomas Pellechia - May 20, 2010

    But Tom, haven’t you heard: red is white and opinion is fact. Stop worrying, the opinions of the many will override the talent of the few; then, there will be nothing to complain about because there will be nothing to know or is known.
    By using your intellect and your knowledge you miss the simplicity of it all.

  17. Samantha Dugan - May 20, 2010

    Well Thomas that is damn depressing….

  18. Tom Wark - May 20, 2010

    What bothers you, Samantha?

  19. Cybercellar - May 21, 2010

    Think you make a fair argument! In South Africa, there is so much diversity in the wine industry from festivals to winelands restaurants and of course wines…their all trying to showcase their ‘regional originality’ in the words of Joe Roberts (great blog). However, the wine writing world seems to remain the same. Wine writers need to embrace change…just like their palates 😉

  20. Bruce Schoenfeld - May 21, 2010

    David, not sure what you’ve been reading, but for the 12 years that I wrote for Wine Spectator I can tell you that features were far from formulaic. I’m not a wine guy who writes but a writer who has an interest in wine. I’m now the wine editor of Travel + Leisure and can forward you some article links if you like.
    And I’m far from the only one: read Tim Atkin, Josh Greene, Richard Nalley, Tara Q. Thomas, Ray Isle, many others. I’m not saying that bloggers can’t also write well, but without the outside funding of an organization bigger than yourself it’s hard to routinely put in the time and effort to actually report stories and write them well.

  21. Samantha Dugan - May 21, 2010

    I was responding to Thomas Pellechia’s comment about the opinions of the many overriding the talent of the few, just bums me out.

  22. fredfric koeppel - May 21, 2010

    Anyone can have an opinion about wine (or anything else), but not everyone is a critic. That position requires a sense of responsibility based on knowledge and experience, the ability to balance objectivity and opinion, a desire to educate, a willingness to do the necessary research and a prose style that is lucid yet individual.

  23. Peter O'Connor - May 21, 2010

    Allow me to disagree with some affirmations you made in one of your last comments.
    First, you claim that the Blogging community “does not operate on a supply and demand model”.
    They do. Bloggers need an audience: new visits, returning visitors, comments… It doesn’t matter if they’re being sufficiently paid to become full time bloggers, or even being paid at all. Still, they’re all being submitted to the laws of supply and demand; since they cannot blog by themselves.
    Then, you affirm that “there are no market factors involved [in blogging]. More importantly, there are no barriers to entry”.
    The activity of blogging involves every single market factor available: cost; expenses; perceptions; competition… and the degree of success one achieves in blogging will have a direct impact on the price of the services/products he is offering. In the same way, “barriers to entry” (with the obvious exception of the minimum capital required for each specific business activity) have always been a blunt measure of how regulated a market is; and for this very reason, they are in direct opposition to the idea of a free market. Not the other way around.
    As a matter of fact, the Internet is the last bastion of true free-market capitalism in the middle of this jumble of government regulation, licensing, privileges, monopolies, cartels…

  24. Tom Wark - May 21, 2010

    A blogger does NOT need visitors any more than a diarist needs readers. A blogger can continue to blog with relatively few readers and still be a blogger. Nothing about their blogging depends upon their being folks to read what they right, unlike commercial publications.
    And, there are no financial costs involved to start and maintain a blog. The software is free. Only the time needed to blog is needed.
    The point is that there is nothing to deter a person from beginning a blog.
    Now, if a person decides they want to develop a significant audience, say, the kind of audience that will then allow them to sell advertising, then you have some costs. The primary one is time. However, there are other, very small, expenses associated with this kind of dedicated blogging.
    All this is in contrast to the enormous costs of embarking on the creation of a money making publishing venture.
    This is my point.

  25. MPosk - May 21, 2010

    Wow, a lot of debate on the subject. But I feel you are comparing apples to oranges. I feel there is a time and place for all spectrum of wine bloger/writer. I have to fall back on “know thy audience” in all you hope to accomplish.
    Most of the wine blogs I’ve read seem to be reaching the $10-$25 wine buyer. After all this is a business and the first growths are not keeping the industry thriving, it’s the stuff that’s on the shelves. If this is your audience, than I don’t think you need a list of degrees. You need to be believable, honest, and accurate. If you want to shake thing up, drop the 100 point scale and use a value scale. Something like exceptional value, good value, average, and better wines for the money. I’m sure you can come up with a few more categories. This is what the average buyer wants to know. If they spend $20 on a bottle are they going to feel that they got their moneys worth. When you go into the characteristics of the wine, tell them why it’s important “has good acid, will stand up to food”.
    If you’re hoping to reach collectors and industry professionals, then you will need a few more credentials. And you will need to debate Terroir with the best of them. While your audience may not be as broad you may be helping to shape the future of the industry from the inside.
    I for one would rather preach on a cliff to the masses than stand in from of the elite. But there is a need to have both. And if there is a need for both, then there is a place for the whole spectrum of wine writer.
    Just my 2 cents. Not in the industry and clearly not a writer, but I do enjoy wine.

  26. Steven Mirassou - May 21, 2010

    I think once Thomas gets over his misguided obsession 😉 with finding the mythical “objective” in wine evaluation and realizes that, outside of the most ‘macro’ of flaws, all good/great, like/dislike is personal, he’ll have a much rosier view of things.

  27. Greg Brumley - May 21, 2010

    You’ve done it again, Wark…..
    This is a delightful and informative discussion.
    Your reply to my posting made a good point: There are many good magazines which cover wine. Parker, WS and QRW don’t dominate in circulation.
    Let me refine what I was trying to say: Those 3 sources dominate public opinion about wine. No 8-10 other publications could match their influence. More to the point, their opinions dominate the distributor channel. We see point-of-sale tags quoting 90s from Parker & Spectator. A few will quote Wine Enthusiast. One does not see high review scores or accolades from Saveur, Food & Wine, Bon Appetite or Travel & Liesure being used to sell wine in retail outlets. To that degree, Wine Spectator & Parker dominate the retail market and customer opinion — especially among baby boomer consumers (who buy the most $20+ wines).
    Smaller publications just don’t have that influence. Again, Parker’s & Wine Spectator’s palates favor wines which usually don’t do well with meals. Their tastes are very different from — often alien to — most wine drinkers’.
    I think blogs are creating conversations about wine, which simply did not occur before their existence (neither in volume nor in thoughtfulness). This is essential to acquiring more wine drinkers. The difference between a potential wine drinker being involved (by blogs) rather than intimidated (by The Authorities) is critical.

  28. Tom Wark - May 21, 2010

    yes, a few people have dominated the critical space. But I’m not sure blogs have helped lesson that dominance nor provided a significant alternative for “most wine drinkers.”
    And while most certainly generate conversations, I suspect these same lively conversations took place before blogs…just in a less public manner. Witness the very intense conversations that took place on the early compuserve and AOL boards as well as around tables before the net.

  29. Thomas Pellechia - May 22, 2010

    “…outside of the most ‘macro’ of flaws, all good/great, like/dislike is personal…”
    That’s exactly why wine reviews cause snoring –whether they are in print or in bytes. 😉
    But I don’t think this is the subject of Tom’s post.

  30. JohnLopresti - May 22, 2010

    For me, it’s true, as TomP seemed to allude, there are chasms between the creators of wines and the people who purchase those products. One of the effects of the blog milieu is to add to the open, shared conversations about value in wine.
    There is something hauntingly charming about one wine writer’s mission statement, which, I will post here in its introductory segment:
    “What am I looking for in wine?
    “I’m looking for the Leon Trotskys, the Philip Roths, the Chaucers and the Edith Whartons of the wine world. I want my wines to tell a good story…”
    Perhaps I would skip some of that critic’s favored authors in an online library expedition, if those personages were writing in cyberspace today. Yet, some wine writers’ ingenuity, for me, is what adds to the value of being solely a “critic”. For example, the wine writer whose opening remarks I quoted, exchanged a brief commentary by email with me concerning Chaucer. A different writer once examined in a blog series the inspirational relevance of the works of Van Morrison, or, so I understood those diaries several years ago.
    In sum, there are many flavors of online conversational diversity, all of which enhance the wine marketing environment.

  31. Thomas Pellechia - May 22, 2010

    What we eat and drink should provide inspiration; the story is up to the writer not the wine.
    Rather than a sedentary attempt to have the wine “speak” to the diarist, the writer has to get off his/her ass and have experiences, do the research, get the facts rather than just the inspiration; then, tell a good story, preferably leaving out the useless numbers 1 to 100…

  32. Tim Burton - May 22, 2010

    Very good point, Tom was that in response to Stevens comment?

  33. JohnLopresti - May 22, 2010

    TomP, keeping reflection fairly generic here, I once had a tankside conversation with a hired winemaker. I tried to make a suggestion zinfandel would be an interesting terroir experiment once the owner’s cabs had an record of placing in the medals. The winemaker was fretting over the then poor selection of pinot noir clones for the locale. So, there were only two red still tablewines produced at that winery for years, cab sauv and pinot noir.
    The winemaker became famous world-over for the product, the pinot noirs, as well as for the passionate approach to every detail of thoroughness to attempt to provide outstanding varietal pinot noir.
    After a few decades the winemaker had left that employer, and built a winery bearing that by-then-famous winemaker’s name on its many vintages of pinot noir.
    Soon, a corporate purchase occurred; the deal was the winemaker would stay a while. The label still bore the famous name of the winemaker.
    Subsequently, recently there is a different situation. The winemaker left the winery which bore his name, but had to leave the label rights intact.
    So there is the wierd situation of having started a new winery yet again, this time with a fictitious name, avoiding placing his own famous name on the now independent winery’s pinot noirs. And he is competing with wines from his former venue which still are legally using his name on their label.
    The wine talks, and the blogs can get the word out. Some pinot noirs are more equal than others, sayeth George Orwell.

  34. Thomas Pellechia - May 22, 2010

    Yes John, I am sure that without the original winemaker, the old wine probably inspires in a different way (or not at all). Someone needs to give voice to both the old and the new inspiration or they will remain just vibes.
    And hey, it’s been my experience that corporate purchases don’t just occur–they are usually deliberate. It has something to do with money, reality, business, stuff that in a blissful muse-like state wine somehow isn’t supposed to be connected with, according to the diarists who seem to think that it is there for them alone to hear. 😉

  35. tom merle - May 23, 2010

    The comments seem to confuse the criticism/evaluation of specific wines with Wine Writing which tends to deal with far more facets than one person’s palate. Wine Writers get behind the juice to present the “back story” or the front, side stories, etc. They give the simple consuming of a beverage dimensionality, much as MFK Fisher did for food, to pick one example. Gerald Asher probed then presented in excellently crafted English grape growing regions and the perspectives of producers and growers in those regions. Scoring their wines was irrelevant.
    And besides, as with my reference to Rod Smith above, why should a swell taster, whatever that is also be a swell writer of wine prose. They are completely different functions.
    As for the former activity–assessing the appeal of wine–this task is best left to the “wisdom of crowds” found in places like CellarTracker, where enthusiasts can find what the preponderance of other enthusiasts think of a wine. The parallel here is to TripAdvisor and Yelp/Chowhound. Web 2.0 has ushered in the age of the user. Long may s/he reign.

  36. Thomas Pellechia - May 23, 2010

    Mr. Merle, we are again in general agreement.
    Wine reviewing and wine writing are separate genres: one is a personal list; the other is literature.

  37. Nate - May 23, 2010

    As a first time reader of your site, I don’t have the benefit of trusting what you have to say, however, I think you touch on the topic of blogging as a whole. This has really, very little to do with wine, and almost everything to do with journalism.
    At one point, you could consider newspapers a very credible source of news, television as well. That is no longer the case. Television sells its soul for the ultimate dollar… political messages are skewed toward those with the money. Newspaper is dying a floundering death that has led to such poor integrity in journalism that the words “lack of journalistic integrity” don’t apply, and instead “criminally unobjective” seem more accurate.
    What you are seeing my friend, is the change in media. Bloggers may not have the credibility, but they do have the integrity, and credibility will come.

  38. conveyancing rockhampton - May 23, 2010

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  40. 1WineDude - May 25, 2010

    Hi all – I feel a need to clarify this a bit: my quotes in the article are taken from the context of a much larger discussion with the author about wine learning and wine writing.
    In the article, the author has (sort of) positioned me as the counterpoint argument to Karen’s comment, when in reality I view the situation as more complex, and far less black-&-white.

  41. Hector H. - May 25, 2010

    Big Tom….
    Shouldn’t the question be -Should everyone be allowed to give out wine blog awards- (that would be you Big Tom-)…just saw on Vinography the finalists for your little wine blog award program…curious about several,the first I started reading had only three posts per month over the last couple of months…Big Tom- I haven’t stopped LAUGHING since…keep up the great work Big Tom, next time we cross paths I will make sure to give you a big HUG…that whole intellectual integrity thing can be tough…continue to mingle big guy…I’m sure you will find some somewhere…gosh…

  42. Drink Me Mag - June 4, 2010

    I think everyone should be their own critic. I don’t need to hear how many people like the same burritos or pizzas that I may or may not want to eat. Best to keep it to yourself, unless you have something really valuable to say.

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