Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wine Blogs – Righteous or Rubbish?

Well known New York Times columnist Eric Asimov recently added a post to his blog (The Pour) titled “Let a Thousand Critics Blossom.” To sum it up in a nut shell, Mr. Asimov was intrigued at how quickly the blog culture caught on…especially on the subjects of food and wine. He points out that there are hundreds, if not zillions, of blogs written about wine, beer and spirits. And surprisingly, many of them are interesting.

Now, maybe it’s because Grape Nut and I just started this blog (make it a zillion and 1 wine blogs now), but I find that blogs in general serve a major purpose. Consider the fact that wine, like style, is subjective. Just because I like a certain wine doesn’t mean somebody else will (see Grape Nut’s post from last Friday Doesn’t it make sense that there would be a multitude of avenues for people to gather information? Also consider that wine buying, to a great many people, can be an extremely intimidating task. Perhaps it’s because of the enormous selection, or prices, or quite simply the notion that people who drink wine are snobs. In my opinion, if a person feels they have an opinion on what they like to drink, then they should be able to share it with anyone who’s interested.

Grape Nut and I have openly stated that we are not “wine experts.” And I actually think that’s a good thing. I think the “experts” such as Robert Parker, Stephen Tanzer, and James Suckling are the ones who make wine intimidating to so many people. Decipher this rating by Mr. Parker if you will:

Inky/purple to the rim, with that extraordinary liqueur of minerals interwoven with creme de cassis, blackberries, and juicy cherries, it reveals a subtle note of smoky oak, massive body, a multilayered mid-palate and texture, incredibly high tannin, and dramatic levels of fruit, glycerin, and extract. The alcohol came in at 14% naturally in 2005, higher than in either 2000 or 2003. This is a wine of extraordinary purity, precision, and monumental aspirations.

What-choo talkin' bout Willis? While I personally respect and read the opinions of all three of these gentlemen, many people don’t understand their tasting notes or ratings. To the occasional wine drinker, this is the equivalent of asking my computer-illiterate father to follow directions on disassembling the motherboard of a computer to upgrade the processor, ram and video card. Don’t get me wrong…Robert Parker is a genius, and arguably the most influential person in the world of wine. But, he is also light-years ahead of 99% of the wine consuming public.

SO surely there must be another place to turn for wine advice and information…and that’s where blogs like this one come to the forefront. We’re just starting out, but there are a great many blogs that provide fantastic everyday, average Joe wine drinker with some really great information and wine reviews. And the best part is they are understandable.

Where do you turn for wine buying advice? Do you just tear out the Wine Spectator Top 100 list and run to the store, or do you heed the counsel of someone else? Perhaps an everyday, average Joe wine drinker with a blog? Tell us who your counselors are.

That’s all for now. Remember to swirl, sniff and swig. Cheers!


Grape Nut said...

Well said buddy. I personally like to read Wine Spectator and compare their reviews with Mr. Parker. I find I'm somewhere in the middle. WS sometimes being a little too esoteric for my tastes and Parker giving 90 ratings to some wines I though merited a low 80.

But the best advice I ever got was from my neighborhood wine seller. (Tony, formerly of Liberty Liquors & Deli, Jersey City, NJ) Once he realized I was serious about wine, he started to learn what I liked and began to recommend wine's to my specific tastes. Through his guidance, I found some of my favorite wines and regions. My best advice would be to befriend a wine guy at your local store. Once they see you a few times, they know if they screw you, you’re not coming back.

Sergeant-At-Arms said...

I think drinking wine can force someone's snobbish tones and feeling to the surface because it takes patience and endurance to appreciate all the subtleties. When you put that mush attention, details and overall effort into something, one is bound to be very opinionated and obsessive.

Over and out.

The Vine Guy said...

opinionated and obsessive, no question...but you do not have to intentionally intimidate or make people feel dumb. Instead, these people, because of their immense knowledge and gift, should seek to teach the masses, rather than cater to the elite.