The Gamut and Gauntlet of Questions for Wine Bloggers

Oh, the questions a blogger gets…

Most questions posed to me based on my status as a blogger/publisher come in the form of questions posed in the comment section of my posts. But others come via email. Boy do they run the gamut. Here is the post where I answer them publicly. Enjoy…
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Tom,
Thank you for your blog. I’ve been reading on and off for years. But it seems you never review wines, but here you are in the wine industry. Why not review wines?
…Bob C.

Bob, that’s just what the world needs, another wine reviewer! I suppose I could review wines and it would probably enhance and widen my audience. But honestly, it doesn’t interest me. Plus, it’s something I’ve never done as it would be a conflict of interest. For years I’ve represented wineries as a publicist and reviewing the wines of my clients’ competitors is ethically compromising.

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Dear Tom…I’ve seen you over and over defend the elitism and snobbery in the wine world. I can’t figure out why you would do this. It’s hard enough for us to sell wine to the younger generations who don’t get any of that snob appeal from beer and wine and seltzer. Would you please stop?
Chris T.

Chris, I don’t see it as defending “elitism” and “snobbery”. I see it as defending the appeal to joyous complexity that wine can deliver. I don’t think I’ve ever defended those people who want to denigrate $7 wine, which is what most commonly is properly seen as “snobbery”. The real joy that comes from wine is in its symbolism, cultural meaning and the myriad ways it comes to taste the ways it does. And to understand that, one has to delve into it. Those who delve into it want to talk about that complexity and to some this comes off as “snobbery” and elitism. That’s not what that is. It’s joy.

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Tom: You disappoint me. You seem completely unable to address the systemic racism and misogyny in the wine industry. Why? You seem all to capable of skirting the edge of this issue and even taking the other side which makes you seem like an old man in denial. Your voice would be appreciated.
Sarah J.

Dear Sarah: There is no systemic racism in the wine industry and this is why I don’t address it. There is nothing about the way grapes are grown, the way wine is made, the system by which it is distributed or the way in which it is sold that is systemically racist or misogynist. I have found that generally when folks make the claim that wine is systemically racist or misogynistic they are referring to the underrepresentation of people of color or women in the industry or in positions of executive authority. These are real things. And there are ways to address them. But they are not a result of the way the wine industry works as a system. The causes of this underrepresentation are myriad and a result of thing and cultures and history that is upstream of the wine industry.

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Mr. Wark:
You obviously take particular joy in denigrating the way Utah addresses its concern about alcohol and in the way it regulates the sale and distribution of alcohol don’t you? You don’t live here and you certainly don’t work in the Utah alcohol industry or in its regulatory authority. You are talking out your ass. Alcohol is a dangerous substance prone to abuse and with that abuse comes broken people and broken families. This, however, you don’t care about. Go ahead and keep making fun of Utah and Utahans. Meanwhile we will keep doing the work of keeping our people safe. 
No Name

You have my appreciation for continuing to do the work of keeping your state’s wine lover safe from the dangers of Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon, French Pomerol and those rare but delicate Pinots that come out of Germany. Please, continue to do all you can to assure that folks don’t have access to these wines. I’m sure it’s keeping your people safe.

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Tom,
Your “blueprint” for fixing the wine industry was right on the mark. But the problem you don’t seem to address is the difficulty in overcoming the apathy that too many on my side of the industry [brewing] have when it comes to helping change these laws and giving us more leeway in how we well our product. Is there a way of breaking through that apathy? Thanks for your work.
Fred G.

Fred: Thank you for your kind words. Apathy is always the partner of inertia. But here’s the thing, if you are passionate enough to devote time to addressing issues like self-distribution in the brewing industry, then your first job ought to be to communicate to your peers in the industry and gauge where they stand. If they are equally interested in the issue as you are and want to see change, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to make a difference. Frankly, money is easier for most to give than time…as it should be. This is why you should be concentrating on two things: 1) communicating the issues to your peers and giving them a vehicle for affordably contributing to an effort to change the laws. Now go do that!

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Tom:
Why don’t you take your old, white man’s body and just fade away? You are making things worse and embarrassing yourself.
No Name

I assure you I will fade away…just not right now. So, you’ll just have to muster the courage and strength to continue on while I continue to embarrass myself. Good luck with that. I know you have it in you somewhere

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These are not all the emails I go over the past few months, but they are among the most interesting. There is a certain amount of both vitriol and praise that one invites when they write for public consumption. I am sure there are writers out there in the wine space who get far more of both than I do. But I will say that I welcome both the vitriol and the praise along with the comments that are left on the posts as opposed to emailed to me. It keeps me honest. It keeps me thinking and it keeps me busy. All of these are good things.

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4 Responses

  1. Judy Parker - April 22, 2021

    Well handled, as always.

    That Utah comment though…whoa!

  2. Clark Smith - April 22, 2021

    I have witnessed a great deal of misbehavior on the trade side of the wine industry, both in tying a sale or a promotion to sexual favors and in the discounting of women during hiring. I agree with you however on the wine production side. Every winery is different, but there are many, including mine, that actually favor women because they have something to prove and work harder and smarter. While there are many high-ranking women in wineries, there could be a lot more were it not that the glass ceiling is sometimes self-imposed, and wisely so. One reason is that many talented women choose, at least for a few years, to build a family and concentrate on their children. Others simply have better sense than to leave the creative magic of cellar and the natural wonder of the vineyard for a high-power desk job.

  3. Jeff Swanson - April 22, 2021

    Thank you for sharing these inquiries. Your replies brought some needed smiles!

  4. Tom Elliot - April 22, 2021

    “I assure you I will fade away…just not right now.” That had me laughing!


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