The Cynic Vs the Wine Bloggers
The Hosemaster of Wine, the wine industry’s real curmudgeon, believes it’s time for professional wine writers (Karen McNeil in Particular) to deliver to wine bloggers a very specific message: “You aren’t any good at what you do and you are unworthy of respect.”
The Hosemaster imagines Karen McNeil addressing the coming Wine Bloggers Conference in this fashion:
“Even if it is what you want to be, I’ve read most of the nominated and award-winning wine blogs, and you don’t have the chops to make it as a wine writer. Your prose is like box wine—a collapsing plastic sack of crap. Reading your wine descriptions is like trimming your nostrils with needlenose pliers—excruciatingly stupid, and a waste of perfectly good tools. I usually wonder if you even tasted the wine, or if you just reworded the back label. I have news for you, back labels are NOT Cliff Notes for wine bloggers. That got you through the JC, but it won’t work as a wine writer.”
Of course The Hosemaster is wrong. And any one who has ever surveyed the wine blogging world over the past decade knows this. The list of very good writers who are or have started as wine bloggers is long and undeniable. What I can’t understand is why anyone would feel compelled to deny this.
Today we get news that Elaine Brown (Hawk Wakawaka) has landed the job of Jancis Robinson’s North American wine reviewer. This comes on the heels of Alder Yarrow (Vinography) also being tapped by Jancis to report on American wines for her thousands of subscribers. This is the tip of the iceberg of quality wine writing and wine reporting and wine reviewing that has emerged from the wine blogosphere.
It’s possible that The Hosemaster is upset that no Gerald Asher or Hugh Johnson or Leon Adams has emerged from the Wine Blogosphere. Yes, this is a shame. But to disparage an entire group of writers for not birthing an immortal talent seems petty.
In the comment section below his blog post on how bad wine bloggers are, The Hosemaster explains his post by noting that in writing this bit of anti-blogging satire he “used the time-tested comedy convention of having a speaker unexpectedly speak the truth to her audience. A convention best exemplified in the classic SNL skit where William Shatner tells an audience at a Star Trek convention to, “Get a life!”
The problem is that standing up in front of a room full of wine bloggers and telling them they are worthless doesn’t rise to the level of “telling the truth”, expectedly or unexpectedly.
Cynicism, particularly the well-honed type exhibited by The Hosemaster, is a quality that every thoughtful person ought to possess in at least some moderate quality. But when quality of cynicism overtakes and overshadows the quality of commonsense you face the problem of tunnel vision.
The Wine Blogging Community is a vibrant one filled with very good writers, very good thinkers, innovators, and people of passion. Ignoring or deny this is nonsensical and indefensible.
Tom, you might have missed the part about Ron’s piece being funny…? 😉
In his defense, there’s plenty of drivel written in the wine blogosphere, as is the case in print, as well. I don’t see it as indefensible to poke fun at that fact. But then, it takes ***quite a bit*** to get me riled up (or even approaching riled up) these days…
This subject reminds me of my father’s oft used expression: In all this horse excrament there’s gotta be a pony. I guess the trick is finding the ponies.
There is no problem finding the pony. They have been out there in plain sight for many years: Elaine, Alder, Tyler, Joe, Eve, Chris C, David W., etc, etc, etc…. You have to be looking away to deny the many very good writers who have and are working in the blogosphere.
Ron was pretty clear that his post was based on the idea that its often funny to unexpectedly tell the truth. I take him on his word.
Ron brings out the best and the worst in all of us – – including himself.
I remember when I received a wine blog nomination for Best Writer (2010). I was overwhelmed and the nomination meant a lot, whether I won or not. It finally meant a little recognition for hard work, but also something that I enjoy. However, my heart sunk when Ron was also nominated for the same as I knew he would trash the nomination and the nominees, such as myself – – and he did. Unfortunately, he was predictable. The worst part of it all is that I allowed Ron to suck the some of the joy I was feeling about the nomination.
Later, he would write something that I just swooned over – – and I even quoted it in my own blog. I thought it was one of the best things I had ever read about wine and wine writing,
“What amazes me is how wonderful and entertaining and fascinating wine itself is, whereas wine writing is, with few exceptions, dreary, pedantic, insipid and repetitive. Perhaps that’s because so much of it revolves around descriptions of aromas and flavors we, as humans, are poorly equipped to perceive, much less express. Wine outmatches us … I intend is to talk about wines that move me. And even after all these years and all those wines, there are wines that can still move me. ”
After that quote he wrote, I thought it was best never to read his blog again. I guess I never wanted to think any less of a person who was capable of writing something so true and thoughtful, in spite of himself.