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Who is in Judgment of Whom?

Since Robert Parker issued a sharp rebuke of online wine writers in April of this year, it has become fashionable for members of the wine establishment to offer up ponderous questions and cautionary tales regarding the legitimacy of online wine writers and the changing wine media landscape.

Regrettably, respected and erudite writer Matt Kramer is the latest to do so in the October 15th issue of Wine Spectator with the equally regrettable headline, “Judgment Day.” 

I’m a betting man, and I’d be willing to bet Kramer doesn’t write his own headlines and wishes somebody would have given him a better one for his latest column.  It takes a certain kind of hubris to use a headline like, “Judgment Day,” and suggest that you’re standing in judgment of people who write for little more than the satisfaction that comes with a passion for the written word and wine.

And, while Kramer’s comments are reasonably innocent, he’s not alone.  He joins a long line of folks that includes the aforementioned Parker, Steve Heimoff, Jim Gordon, Anthony Dias Blue, and others who have used their platform to issue a cautionary clarion call with varying degrees of bellow.  And, ironically enough, Kramer’s column trades on some of the same ideas that blogger Tom Wark wrote in a blog post from early August where he analyzed a column from the email newsletter of mainstream wine writer Dan Berger.

This on and offline writer thing gets confusing pretty quickly because the medium is no longer the message.  This is why most mainstream writers play the “credibility” card.  And, in another interesting bit of irony, since 2007, major wine magazines who once intermittently gave recommendations for good wine blogs to read, have largely gone silent—implicitly supporting the fact that they don’t view blogs as complementary to their work, but rather supplementary.  Given that, there’s not much else to affront except for the tenure and credibility of the “free” they’re fighting against. 

This ongoing mainstream wine writer public service announcement about online writers can be distilled into two simple messages:  “Who are these guys?” and “Don’t be so quick to give your trust.” 

The crux of Kramer’s Spectator column falls into this familiar boilerplate, as well, when he notes:

Many tasters—most, even—are adept at dissecting a wine.  It’s good, it’s bad, it’s humdrum.  This is the “flat earth” approach.  You only go as far as the wine takes you and declare that you have reached the limit of the knowable world.  There is no dot-connecting involved.

Kramer continues, “Is it enough that the person went to a big tasting?  Or once samples a vertical of the wine?  The challenge today for those wish to acquire credibility is to demonstrate a foundation of knowledge … now give us some reason to credit your judgment.  And that takes more – a lot more—than a sip, a spit and a quick tasting note.”

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With all of this meta-analysis in between on and offline wine writing you’d think that navel-gazing, a distinctly blogger-like symptom, was the H1N1 virus in the traditional wine writer’s dorm room.  This ongoing, thinking-out-loud questioning smacks of an interfamilial, brother-in-arms conversation amongst the old guard; an “I’m in the foxhole with you” statement of flying bullets bravado.

Even more peculiar, if you are to believe the established wine writers, is the fact that their target, the enemy as it were, is seemingly invisible – Al Qaeda in the hills of Afghanistan.  None of these established writers cite specifics when they mention online wine media; instead they offer broad proclamations and veiled allusions like George W. Bush and his “weapons of mass destruction” circa 2002.  Those that are active with a blog, a message board presence, or a tasting note account are left to wonder who and what these mainstream wine personalities are actually referring to. Their neutered commentary is not just akin to a gun without bullets, but a gun that also has a visible safety catch on.

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Some might call this message delivery from the paid professionals a form of mentoring, others might call it defensive, yet others may call it a “Swan Song.”  I don’t believe it’s any of those—I simply believe it’s misguided.

Each of these mainstream wine writer’s miss several very key points in their ongoing analysis of online wine media, including:

1) Amongst the inevitable drivel is significant quality, particularly in areas of coverage that is more niche-oriented.

2)  Many (most?) of the old guard of wine writers are predominantly male and have been in the game for 25 years or more.  What these guys don’t say is that they started somewhere and it took them an immeasurably longer trip on the road to individual respectability than the five or so years that wine blogs have been in existence (the amount of time they are affording before standing in “judgment”).

3) While they talk about credibility, they don’t acknowledge the brand boost that they get writing for Spectator, Enthusiast, or other traditional outlets.  Speaking of credibility, I really have no idea what gives Kramer and the rest of them any more individual credibility then Joe Blogger down the street, but I know that they write for outlets that help burnish their own image.  With due respect to Matt Kramer, without Wine Spectator he probably doesn’t get a chance to write books.  Ditto that for others.  I’d hazard a guess and say that the Wine Spectator masthead has done more for affording wine writer’s ancillary opportunities than anything else in the modern wine era, 1970’s – to present day.

On the other hand, you want an act of credibility?  Start a blog out of nowhere, for virtually no money, earning virtually no money and earn a readership.  That’s very credible in its sheer difficulty.

4) Most of this us v. them mentality is a result of unacknowledged friction based on content.  Mainstream wine writers largely write for an audience that doesn’t live online.  I’ll go one step further and say that most literate wine readers and writers of wine blogs find mainstream wine content deadly dull, contrived and pedantically insulting.  This creates an environment where bloggers take shots and the magazines respond with commentary couched in the veil of questioning credulousness.

This has nothing to do with anything other than good old neighborly sniping.

Overall, I’m weary of the credibility card and the “up-on-high” pontificating from the mainstream wine press.

The reality is that an existing highway and an onramp are merging and the sooner that the speeding car moves over a lane, and the merging vehicle drives defensively, the better off (and safer) we’ll all be – and, that’s the only judgment I’m willing to concede.

*Ed. Note* Because of page length limitations in my system set-up, additional comments to this post are not displaying.  I’m working on a longer-term fix.  Thanks!



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Posted in, Around the Wine Blogosphere. Permalink | Comments (37) |


Comments

On 09/14, Arthur wrote:

Jeff,

I must disagree on a key point:

“On the other hand, you want an act of credibility?  Start a blog out of nowhere, for virtually no money, earning virtually no money and earn a readership.  That’s very credible in its sheer difficulty.”

What you are describing is persistence, stamina and traction or popularity with an Internet-savvy audience. The latter may meet the technical definition of credibility.

However, in the context of its definition, credibility is more a function of the audience’s willingness to trust and accept the author as an expert source rather than the author actually being an expert.

In that sense, credibility may be all that matters in political elections and sales.

The question that begs asking, then, is: what is one trying to sell and for whose profit?

The conversation should be focused on expertise, accuracy and sound judgment and not on whose creative writing is ‘more better’ - which is what seems to be the real issue here.

On 09/14, 1WineDude wrote:

Hey Arthur - “The conversation should be focused on expertise, accuracy and sound judgment”:

I agree, but I’d add that the assumption here is that blog readers in the majority of cases are capable of making that judgment on their own.  Therefore, the popularity could be a good indicator of credibility.  Also, we now have a few items like the WBA that, while not perfect, also are helping to add cred. to the really good blogs out there.

Jeff - another stunning article. You’re a (talented) jerk! smile

On 09/14, Kevin wrote:

My biggest question is, how was Parker’s start any different, other than he started out with paper? It isn’t like he was a Master of Wine or Master Sommelier and had some sort of “official” credentials. Funny how those who sit in high places can often forget their more humble beginnings.

Great article.

On 09/14, Thomas Pellechia wrote:

Winedude,

Readers get to decide who has expertise, is accurate, and makes sound judgments? On what basis? And if readers can do all that, why do they need the writer?

What you describe is the job of an editor.

On 09/14, Dr. Horowitz wrote:

I like your point about the audiences being different. If there are people out there who want to read a magazine to determine what they should buy let them.  But, the wine magazine writers shouldn’t think that their ratings are more holy than other other people’s ratings.

Are Playboy’s top 10 rankings credible?
Are the 100 best ski resorts in a ski magazine credible?
Are the 100 best colleges and universities a credible ranking?

On 09/14, Richard wrote:

Here’s the big problem with wine critics: there’s one out there for everyone’s tastes.  Just because you may not agree with someone’s reviews doesn’t mean the critic is “wrong.”  It just means their style doesn’t match up with yours.

The biggest problem in evaluating wine is there isn’t a set of standards to go by.  Yes, flaws can be identified, as they should, but one person’s “minerally and terrior-driven” grand cru red burgundy is another person’s “dirty, tannic, no-fruit” pinot.  If there aren’t any hard-fast standards to go by, how can you say anyone, from Parker to a schmuck with a blog, is wrong?  You simply can’t judge credibility if there aren’t any standards to judge the results against.

In the end, no one is wrong, but no one is right either.

On 09/14, Josh wrote:

Morgan Freeman had cotton candy. Your argument is invalid.

http://posts.pinotblogger.com/3639045

On 09/14, Thomas Pellechia wrote:

Richard,

Yours is a salient point, which is why serious wine writers (not just critics) call for standards—quite an unheard call, I might add.

On 09/14, Jeff wrote:

Arthur,

While I think Josh cracks the nut here, ahem, I have to say that my point is that I can’t recite the cv of Kramer, Heimoff, Laube, or any of the rest.  I have no idea what they bring to the table in terms of quantifiable expertise—except for the fact that they’ve been doing it for a loooong time and have a masthead acting as a brand next to their name—a brand that has allowed them to create their own brand.  A luxury bloggers don’t have when they are creating their personal brand from scratch.

So, in contrast, given the relatively short tenure of bloggers and no brands, per se, amongst blog sites, then what’s the real issue of credibility?

I would be willing to bet the best bottle in your cellar that if you take each of those “professional writers” at an equal lifecycle to top blogs and compared the two in influence, the bloggers would win. 

Let’s use Alder as an example.  He’s been writing for five years.  Comparatively to when Matt Kramer was five years in, I betcha Alder beats the pants off of him in terms of awareness, influence, respect, etc.

So, my overall message is this credibility thing is apples and oranges.

And, the point that i didn’t make and won’t make because I don’t have a leg to stand on in proof, is this is sabre rattling of the highest order and intended to cast fear, uncetainty and doubt. 

Jeff

On 09/14, Arthur wrote:

I have no issues with the fact that the print critics have no more “meat” on their CVs than Joe Schmoe Blogger (barring, of course, a Journalism degree here and there).

Does that mean this should be the standard for such an impactful medium as are Internet Publications?

I would (agreeing on the principle of your saber rattling point) go one further and say that in an age of technology and instant communication, those undertaking wine writing on blogs, etc are: 1) parroting the a) style and b) philosophy of established print critics and 2) thus making the same fundamental errors or assumption and thinking about wine and 3) thus keeping modern wine culture in the 19th century.

On 09/14, Jeff wrote:

Yeah, you make a good point, Arthur, but the bar isn’t that high to begin with.  All it takes is one wine blogger to dedicate themselves to it and post 3-4 times a day to change the landscape—mix in reviews that are cool and functional in addition to accurate, do some op-ed column stuff, video and some interviews.

If somebody can mix in text, visuals, reviews, and do it multiple times a day then you have a something that transcends the current genre, which really hasn’t changed that much in the last 3 years.

The unfortunate reality is that most (not all) of the good bloggers have day gigs and that inhibits the medium from growing in new and interesting directions.

More so than credibility, wine blogging needs somebody to raise the stakes in quality.

Jeff

On 09/14, Thomas Pellechia wrote:

Jeff,

What the “big guys” have behind them are journalistic standards, editors, and possibly even fact checkers (except for RP because he’s his own boss).

Now, this says absolutely nothing concerning their wine chops—their ability to tell organoleptics from organic labeling, Brett from barrel fermentation, vinegar from vine-ripened. But then, neither do many bloggers bring much to the table in the way of those chops.

In all, the difference between magazine writers and bloggers is essentially that the former works under a three-tier system; the latter represents a thousand Lone Rangers. In one, an entity or organization backs up the creds; in the other, the creds are taken for granted by the reader.

I don’t think audience is a good measure for establishing credibility. Consistent top-notch performance in one’s field is the measure. The world is littered with knowledgeable human beings who can’t get a hearing because of one failing or another on the part of the existing system. By the same token, it is littered with mediocre fools who make it to celebrity status on the luck of the draw and the power of promotion, not to mention the American attention span of fifteen minutes!

On 09/14, Jeff wrote:

Thomas,

Man, I’ve rolled this around my head a million times.  At the end of the day, I don’t think wine writing is journalism.  there’s good reason that lifestyle reporters get buttonholed and can’t do hard news once they’ve crossed the bridge.

I think we’d all be a little bit better off if we considered wine writing as lifestyle writing or, at best, op-ed.

This would clear up one bugaboo about “journalistic standards” which has very little to do with any wine writing—lifestyle or op-ed (non-book form wine writing, that is).

Maybe I’m giving room to be found a fool, but at this moment in time that’s how I see it.

Jeff

On 09/14, Arthur wrote:

Jeff

Not to be contentious, but you are sticking to the “[(quantity + persistence)X(internet acces)X free time] = quality/credibility/expertise” notion. You seem to be describing format and productivity rather than benchmark-based expertise.

My point is that people who dispense wine recommendation should have certain skills, knowledge and good judgment based on benchmarks other than what tastes yummy to them. The implication of that is that not everybody writing about wine should be doing it (or is deserving of trust or a paycheck). This no doubt ruffles feathers, but it has to be said.

On 09/14, Arthur wrote:

Jeff

Wine writing is not journalism be cause nobody has right combination of chops, knowledge and and brain cells to see it as consumer goods evaluation.

Couple that with the achingly misguided buy-in into the “subjectivity of wine” construct (sells a ton of wine, does not make for smarter consumers, tho) and you get the idea that creative prose is the only way to write about wine.

Thomas is right: some people do not have the inherent chops to be wine critics just as I do not have the chops to be a NBA player.

On 09/14, Jeff wrote:

Arthur,

You’re not being contentious.  I appreciate the perspective, but here’s my point:

Go to this link:

http://www.winesandvines.com/template.cfm?section=departments_winereviews

Look at those writers who all write for news dailies—off the top of your head, tell me what their credentials are.

You can’t.  I can’t.  And, because you can’t it makes their opinion no more valid then the next guy, particularly if you strip the masthead off their column.

Really, I’m a centrist, so I don’t want to get into defending blogging because goodness knows I think a lot of them are bad, but generally speaking I think this credibility thing is a really weak argument intended to hold power by those that have power.

Fortunately, I do 95% op-ed, so I don’t have to wallow in the my educated palate v. the rookie palate conversation ...

Jeff

On 09/14, Fred wrote:

I think Matt Kramer is an altogether different animal than the other MSM writers mentioned here. Yes, he plays the role of wine critic in his Oregonian column. And that of wine sage in the Spectator. But until you’ve read his books—the first of which was published 20 years ago—you cannot fathom how deep and original a thinker he is.

http://www.amazon.com/Matt-Kramer/e/B000APTX3K/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

For the Spectator to publish a “reader beware” column is ironic, given the business they’re in. For Kramer to have written it is unfortunate, as it is beneath him.

On 09/14, Arthur wrote:

No argument on those (and many other) wine writers.
There are a few exceptions, most notably folks like Darrel Corti and Dan Berger. I know people like to paint Dan in curmudgeon colors, but the guy actually went and took V&E classes to understand the business and product he comments on.

When the OWC started up, I brought up the idea of creating some form of educational/certification curriculum that bloggers would complete. Theoretical knowledge is important. As are good chops.
Sure, the guy writing for a car magazine can get by with being able to string interesting prose and his only credentials could be that he likes to sit in and drive fast and fancy cars but just like wine, there is a behemoth industry whose technological and economical trends should be understood by the critic.
The same analogy can be made about food critics. Yes, someone can be successful on the basis of writing well and enjoying food, but someone who has a good palate and knowledge of culinary arts brings a dimension to their assessments that the former never will.

On 09/14, Jeff wrote:

Fred,

Just a quick note that this isn’t a bash on Matt Kramer—he is, bar none, my favorite wine writer going.  I’ve gone out of my way to reference him on my site numerous times with a reverential tone.  For the record, my second favorite is Michael Steinberger from Slate.

I think Kramer’s Making Sense of Wine is one of the best wine books I’ve ever read.

His piece in WS wasn’t a hatchet job, but it did a pretty good job of acting as a foil for my point.

Jeff

On 09/14, Arthur wrote:

Also, I failed to mention that my point in the OWC reference is that bloggers can raise the bar in the manner I have argued for.

Also, while I also like his soulful writing, this may not be the first time Kramer has criticized bloggers:
http://www.vinography.com/archives/2006/09/what_is_the_wine_spectator_afr.html

On 09/14, Thomas Pellechia wrote:

Jeff,

If wine writing is not journalism, then how or why should the reader trust those parts that are supposed to be information, plus, how can you build credibility without following some sort of standards?

How in the world can someone’s subjective desires be credible with anyone else who doesn’t share those subjective desires?

If the only measure of credibility is that you agree with the subjectivity of the critic, and if the accuracy of the information passed along by the writer is of no concern then please, explain to me the value of a critic—any critic—because I can’t imagine one.

On 09/14, Jeff wrote:

Ah, Thomas.  I don’t want to get into semantics. 

I was a journalism major in college ...

When I think of Journalism, I think of news—fair, balanced reporting that addresses both sides of a story or a perspective.

When I think of wine writing I think of factual narrative—lifestyle writing or storytelling.  You can even call it lifestyle reporting, but it doesn’t strive to be balanced, really.

You can write a wine piece, have it be factually correct, but not have it represent both sides of an issue.  In fact, it happens every month in wine magazines.  This is very different than news reporting.  That’s why I called it lifestyle writing. 

The value of any critic is as an arbiter of taste.  We don’t have the time or means to understand every subject to the depth that we want so a critic acts as a filter.  Because it’s subjective, I throw that into the editorial category.  It’s an opinion supported, hopefully, by fact, but it’s not news reporting.

You have news, you have lifestyle and you have editorial.  All are supported by facts, but only news, in the classic sense of the word, is Journalism proper. 

this is in contrast to the empirical definition of journalism, but I’m telling you how I define it.  To me, wine writing and blogging is factual writing, but I don’t strive to get quotes, nor does anybody really, to support both sides of an issue.  I get quotes, in op-ed fashion, to support my point.

Confused?  Me to.  I don’t suppose this is a conversation that gets resolved via comments because it’s perspective and opinion, which, by the way, isn’t news or Journalism, by my definition.

Jeff

On 09/14, Thomas Pellechia wrote:

Jeff,

Journalism has many facets; it isn’t just reporting the news, and it isn’t always fair and balanced, either.

Op-ed is part of the journalistic venue, but just because it is opinion-based does not mean it shouldn’t also be fact based. When you get right down to it, opinions based solely on subjective “feel” and not held up by facts are rather useless. I have a brother-in-law whom I would shudder to think others would follow his wine blog (if he were to start one). He drinks wine but he has absolutely no interest in wine beyond what he drinks—he couldn’t tell a grape from a cherry, and until he met me, he probably didn’t realize that wine comes from grapes. That doesn’t stop him, however, from issuing opinions about wine in my presence.

And yes, lifestyle is also part of the journalism venue, but that does not mean it is devoid of factual information. If you tell someone that a certain winery is located in a certain appellation, you shouldn’t have the appellation wrong. I mention this because I have seen such mistakes on blogs, and that goes to the journalistic fact checking issue, which in my mind also goes to the subject of credibility. If the writer can’t or won’t get something as important as the appellation information accurate, why should anything else said be considered credible? It’s not that journalists don’t make mistakes, but in a magazine article, with an editor or fact checker, that kind of mistake is generally avoided—make the mistake enough times and you won’t write for that rag any more.

If you are the final word on your blog, your credibility should rely on your accuracy of information more than on your talent for opining over what you do or don’t like about a wine. We all do or don’t like something about a wine, but that has little to do with what we know about the subject of wine and what gives us the right to steer others.

This is not semantics—this is credibility and validity.

On 09/14, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

“Speaking of credibility, I really have no idea what gives Kramer and the rest of them any more individual credibility then Joe Blogger down the street…)

Uh, if you had read a single one of Kramer’s books or through his writing actually considered the depth of his knowledge compared to any single blogger, you wouldn’t make that statement.  It’s obvious you haven’t a clue how much you don’t know.

On 09/14, Jeff wrote:

Morton,

Thanks for the drive-by.

Read the comments, my friend, and you’ll see that I have more than a glancing admiration for Mr. Kramer and, in fact, have read three of his books—Making Sense of Wine, as well as Matt Kramer’s New California Wine and Making Sense of Italian Wine.

you might call me a fan boy.  Shall i cite chapter and verse?

I won’t reiterate my point because if you read the post and the comments you’ll have appropriate context.

Thanks for reading,

Jeff

On 09/14, Jeff wrote:

Thomas,

You make good points, certainly.  This isn’t really about me, but I get your point about facts and fact checking and having your information correct.

I don’t know how other people write, but I know that I do a crap load of research to make sure my opinion is water tight—in this regard, i try to be a lawyer and know the answers before I ask the questions.  I don’t know how other people do it, but those that operate more in the journaling mode probably don’t keep a running log of ideas, a folder full of reference material, nine tabs on a browser and extensive linking to contextual information.

I don’t want this to be self-serving, but, then, I don’t think I’m a part of the problem.

Jeff

On 09/14, Dylan wrote:

I think anyone would agree that blogging in general is just starting to take shape. Even wine blogging itself is very young, at least in comparison to the mainstream trade publications.

I’d be hard pressed to take so firm a stance and say that no bloggers will ever achieve the level of credibility and fact-checking held by the current greats.

Who’s to say there will not be any bloggers who do fact check and increase their own expertise? If they do, then that will continue to grow the popularity of their blogs. As for those who don’t?

Well, the others will putter out, either due to lack of interest on the writer’s part or the audience itself. And, one day, just maybe, the bloggers who last will become as good as some of the top guys now.

I don’t see this being an impossibility. To make dismissive and conclusive statements about blogging while everything is still in its infancy, I just find it rather premature.

Arthur’s comment about having the chops to become an NBA player is slightly off only because he never trained like an aspiring NBA player (my apologies if you did, I’m sorry you didn’t make the cut). Not to mention, knowledge of wine isn’t exactly a genetic trait where being taller might help you in basketball. More over, there have been those rare few who proved even height wouldn’t stop them in the NBA. That’s the beauty of the internet, yes, everyone and anyone can join in the action, blogging and otherwise, but only the few who take it the next level will be on the next level.

On 09/14, Ken Payton wrote:

Waste of time, Jeff.  Most posters here are wankers inviting you to join them on their merry way down the drain.

On 09/15, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Robert…Robert…Robert.  Once again the Fat Man in Maryland lays bare what a foul human being he is.  We’ve known for a long time that he is the worst kind of thin-skinned bully.  Many have seriously doubted his ability to taste and his tasting methodology (Brett and VA for All My Friends!), and a few have started to question his self professed integrity.

Now, we know that he is also the worst kind of hypocrite.  Does it not dawn on him for one moment that when he started his self-published newsletter out of his home that he was in fact the blogger of his day.  Certainly he does.  He may be a lot of things but stupid is not one of them.  What he is, however, is power hungry and views the emerging wine blog community as a direct threat to his hegemony over wine tastes and the multi-billion dollar world wine market.

On 09/15, Ron McFarland wrote:

Selling 101 teaches us there is no need to speak negatively of our competitors. For some reason the print publications are finding a need to do so on regular basis.

The same selling 101 teaches it is a good thing when your competitor starts bad mouthing you. It means they are not listening to their prospects and customers. The best part is, it tells you, their chain is rattled and they are off balance. This is the best time to say hello to their best accounts and go for new business.

We should celebrate their ramblings as they tell their customer base there is a new flow of wine information and indirectly says, go check it out for yourself. Just remember, we have the credentials for your wine pleasures.

This is all good for the wine industry and everyone wins when consumers go seeking new wines, regions, price points and then shares these experiences with friends over dinner.

This is what the industry needs from my viewpoint. Consumers seeking rather than sticking to an establish comfort zone.

On 09/15, Charlie Olken wrote:

Jeff—

I find it appalling that some members (please note the required qualifier “some”) of what is called traditional media have been attacking bloggers. It is unprofessional and undignified. Their comments miss the point.

But, when you go back and read your comments in this piece a year from now, you are going to find that they are painted with too broad a brush, are too defensive and rather than being a treatise on what is right with the blogosphere and where it is headed over time, they are an attack on the very folks who you perceive as attacking the blogosphere.

In that regard, it may have felt good to put it all down in print but I do not see how it advances your cause.

Credibility is earned, not given. Some bloggers are getting that kind of credibility because they are writing the kinds of words that prove their worth. Alder Yarrow has been successful not because he has been writng for five years. He is successful because he has found a voice and a direction that has made him worth listening to.

I am late to this game, as you know. Yet, even in the last year, I have seen Vinography change spots a couple of times. I am guessing that Yarrow is having the same concerns about where all this is going that you and other members of the blogosphere are having.

Sooner or later, some of the new writers are going to become not just prominent, but important. Experience, writing style, tasting acuity, intelligent analysis will make that happen for some. The so-called traditional media that has been bashed as if it were one monolithic entity will be joined by those who succeed.

It is time to stop worrying about those who have committed generalized sins against the blogosphere lest you continue also to commit generalized sins.

On 09/15, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Sorry if you consider a brief criticism a drive by.  I could use a lot of words to describe how this posting of yours so perfectly proves Kramer’s point. But I don’t need to, do I?

On 09/15, Sean wrote:

I know that some will object but I think that no one’s abilities to taste and describe are significantly better than anyone else’s.  This belief is broadly consistent with the fact that our abilities to identify and describe particular sensory experiences can improve over time with practice.  As a result what is important is that a writer (1) entertains and (2) educates the reader, i.e., exposes the reader to new things (e.g.,. wines, history, science, culture, food, etc.).  I enjoy reading wine writers who do both of these things.

On 09/15, Ed Thralls wrote:

Jeff,

It’s unfortunate the continued generalities spouted (even in this comment thread) about wine bloggers and lack of credibility, credentials, whatever.  Especially our friend Morton there who certainly doesn’t know every “single blogger” out there to make that ridiculous statement.  There are many bloggers who work and study hard to obtain certain certifications from reputable institutions (i.e. CSW, WSET, Court of Masters, etc.), who visit wineries, who talk to winemakers, who walk the walk and talk the talk that allows the blogger to bring some real wine knowledge and meat to their writing—1WineDude comes right to mind. 

So, I might recommend to others making these statements to heed their own advice and start doing some fact-checking about real wine bloggers out there beforehand.

On 09/15, Tom Wark wrote:

“Let’s use Alder as an example.  He’s been writing for five years.  Comparatively to when Matt Kramer was five years in, I betcha Alder beats the pants off of him in terms of awareness, influence, respect, etc.”

I love Alder and think he’s talented.

But are you kidding me? Jeff, you’ve got to look into these people who you think have “credibitly” only because they write under a well read masthead. Have you read “Making Sense of California Wine?” Can you put it in the proper context it deserves given when it was written?

On 09/17, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

You know, I get sick of all the haughtiness in wine reviewing. It’s like playing golf if you’e a newbee—you feel like you have to hit in the 90s to even play right.

You’re right about the new players entering the freeway; new blood’s always good. For instance, I just saw an excellent blind taste test of three wines on a video at pardonthatvine.com. A new guy - Chris Riccobono.

Relaxed, totally un-stuffy. Check it out if you can. That’s what the people like.

On 05/17, TN Pas Cher wrote:

bout the new players entering the freeway; new blood’s always good. For instance, I just


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