13 Words About Wine and the Luxury Of Ignoring Them

Words Looking over the agenda at the 4th Wine Bloggers Conference set for July 22-24, I came across a pretty interesting looking session: "Ignite Wine".

It's described this way

"At an Ignite show, volunteer presenters each have five minutes to enlighten the audience on a subject of his or her choice. The key is the format: each speaker must bring 20 slides, each automatically set to advance every 15 seconds"

Sort of a well-organized, well-wired soap box dipped in wine.

However…five minutes? That's too easy. The real challenge would be to get your point across in convincing fashion in 60 seconds. There's a challenge. The necessary preciseness, the well-chosen five words instead of ten, the quick and nimble pivot from premise and proposition to your roll out of convincing support, all moving naturally and obviously into your well put summation and conclusion…and all in 60 seconds.

It goes back to that simple truth of writing: it's much more difficult to get your point across in fewer words than in many…always. Put another way, less is more…difficult.

Try this: Re-Write the following sentence using only 13 words or less.

"The Russian River Valley has long been home to an array of accomplished Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel producers, many of which produce wines under 15% alcohol."

___  ___ ___ ____ ____ ____ _____ ____ ____ _____ _____ _____ _____

It's just not that easy. But it is fun to try if you like to write. However, I tend to use too many words myself when writing on this blog. I think it's a combination of a lack of patience I possess when trying to get my thoughts out and the luxury of not having my words constrained by the limits of the proper length of a press release, marketing and sales copy, twitter posts or other career related writing.

The Ignite Wine session at the Wine Bloggers Conference should be tons of fun. I'm looking forward to it because it strikes me as the perfect venue for aspirational communicators with something to say. I'm thinking I might even use the session to make the case for using fewer words in blog posts.


15 Responses

  1. Jim Caudill - June 15, 2011

    Not as elegant, but 13 words:
    Top Russian River producers craft Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Zinfandel below 15% alcohol.

  2. The Wine Mule - June 15, 2011

    12 words!
    Russian River Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel below 15% alcohol? Historically, yes.

  3. Tom Wark - June 15, 2011

    Wine mule: What about the “Accomplished” part?

  4. Tom Wark - June 15, 2011

    What about the “has long been”?

  5. Marg - June 16, 2011

    Russian River Valley has a history of having accomplished producers of light-bodied wines.
    I’ve categorised the wines to just light-bodied wine.

  6. Lewis Perdue - June 16, 2011

    Many Russian River Valley wines have alcohol levels under 15%.

  7. Thomas Pellechia - June 16, 2011

    That would be 13 words or fewer, Tom, but we know what you meant.
    Long established and accomplished Russian River Valley producers offer wines under 15% alcohol.

  8. Tom Wark - June 16, 2011

    What about the “accomplished” part?

  9. David White - June 16, 2011

    My take:
    Accomplished Russian River producers have long crafted Pinot and Chardonnay under 15% alcohol.
    I purposefully left out Zinfandel – because it’s never under 15%!

  10. Lewis Perdue - June 17, 2011

    “Accomplished” is a hype word and has no clear meaning … thus extraneous.

  11. Tom Wark - June 17, 2011

    I have to disagree with you here, Lou. the word “Accomplished” does indeed have a meaning. Dictionary.com says: “highly skilled; expert: an accomplished pianist.”
    But that’s not the point. Without some reference to the quality of the producer as indicated by the original use of the term “accomplished”, you’ve changed the meaning of the original phrase to get down to the 13 words.
    Now, granted, I’ve changed meaning in order to shorten sentences or paragraphs.

  12. JohnLopresti - June 22, 2011

    I think the direction the slideshow assumes for a presentation is ephemeral.
    I count 12 words in that first sentence of mine.
    For Russian River Valley, I would start with an informative geographic and topologic description:
    Imagine a river that once was grand and meandering. Nowadays settlers have chopped down all the redwoods, and the hillsides are fairly denuded of forest soils which conserve moisture. The river plunges thru rock canyons where winds howl morning and night as the utility company metes out water from its plumbing of dams hundreds miles away to the north in far from viticultural zones.
    Emerging from these shadowed and eroded canyons between 3000′ mountains containing some exquisite delicate new vineyards, the Russian River enters the alluvial plain of northern Alexander Valley, one of the hottest parts of Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley AVA. Keep going, as you have yet to reach the Russian River Valley AVA.
    Rounding the rocky central part of the river’s reach at Healdsburg, home to dozens of superb vineyards and wineries, gradually the air noticeably shifts to a more coastal cooling effect, perfect for viticulturists seeking to compete with the fine, famous pinot noirs of France.
    At this part of the Russian River Valley there are a variety of sun exposures and a range of soils. Although traditionally Sonoma County zinfandel vineyards are situated in warmer spots than the Russian River Valley AVA, new plantings of zin and a new vinification style, for northcoast zin, are beginning to appear. Similarly, sauvignon blanc plots in the RRV AVA are starting to challenge the old, simpler style of sauv blanc wines, coaxing new complexity from the noble French premium varietal with the help of mild weather patterns which are an RRV AVA prominent characteristic. In fact, global warming has extended fogbanks’ intrusion into RRV AVA’s tributary valleys increasingly in some recent years as the arctic icecap melts progressively farther every summer and cold ocean water lingers at the outlet of the Russian River ready to course inland and keep the sun away from fruit begging for timely ripening; the fogs also add to problems with grape flower infection with early rot, in addition to fostering other forms of rot and mold which will appear late in the season.
    It is said that the calcareous soils of the eastern, sunny reaches of the RRV AVA are perfect for experimenting with American style chardonnay, some years suitably low in harvest time sugar, yielding delicate wines at alcohol content similar to old French methods of making this supreme, classic white varietal.
    Truly, the RRV AVA contains an ample spectrum of locations and microclimates. In some years very “hot” (high harvest sugar, high alcohol wines) are possible, yielding wines which age extraordinarly long in the cellar bin at home. Yet, the entire zone is undergoing much soul searching about its future and the realistic ways to plan for wine design that will accommodate both the new weather pattern and the diversity of soils.
    [Omitted from start of presentation: shut off the timer feature on the carousel slides.]
    The time is up.
    The presentation diverged into controversies, and hoped to engage the minds of the marketing people in attendance, all in the interest of energizing participants to think about the mysteries of winegrowing in the Russian River Valley.
    It is hoped this summary accomplishes in 13 paragraphs what 13 words could only hope to invoke thru symbols.

  13. christopher - June 23, 2011

    That will be thirteen words or less, Tom, but we all know what you meant. Long established and accomplished Russian Stream Valley producers offer wines under 15% alcohol.

  14. Herzog - June 27, 2011

    My best shot comes in at a way too long 20 words…
    Premiere and longstanding producers of wines under 15% alcohol in the Russian River Valley include Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Zinfandel.
    Brevity is always more challenging.

  15. Deborah-Eve - June 29, 2011

    This sounds like a version of the PechaKucha Night devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work. The name came from the Japanese for “chit chat,” and is conceived as a means to communicate a simple idea with 20 images in 20 seconds–all done at a rapid pace. The idea has taken off around the world, inspiring creatives all over.
    I think it’s a great exercise in communication but thank goodness that words can be used in multiple ways. Complex ideas and descriptions sometimes require more words to do justice to situations. Like fine wine or wonderful food some things need to be savored at a slower pace? Perhaps gulping while dining or using fewer words while writing about wine is a good way to experience that pace does make a difference–for better or worse?
    Great blog!

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