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When blogs go bad

39 comments

Got this very thoughtful comment yesterday from Shana, who has a blog, Breath[e]:

When you all bring up the subject of experience, I think about the so-called mommy bloggers and their experience. These bloggers are all over the board, from blogs from women about their first child, to moms that adopt, moms that have a few kids, moms that have children in college. Of course, I could go on and on… With mommy bloggers as well as with Wine Bloggers.

And this is what makes any blogging community interesting.

There are so many different perspectives on wine and IMHO that is what readers want. Not everyone wants to read tasting notes from an experienced wine critic (or vice versa) and that is where some of the not so educated bloggers come in and while they may not have the experience, they still are a part of the wine world and can influence those who would rather read their POV.

Anyone who drinks a bottle of wine or visits a tasting room now a days is a potential wine blogger or critic and I think there is room for all sorts of opinions on wine, not just the ‘experts.’

Shana distillizes the pro-blogging camp’s position as clearly as anything I’ve ever read. If I can sum up, it’s “It’s a new world out there. Anybody and everybody can speak authoritatively about anything they want, and that’s good.”

Well, I respect Shana’s point of view, but in this case I can’t entirely agree. Let me state the case, for some of us, for the difference between a good wine blog and a bad wine blog.

* * *

I read a lot of wine blogs. The ones I like tend to be what I think of as more literate, wittier and thoughtful. Also, those written with some particular competence or expertise, whether it’s Tom Wark on the industry at Fermentation to Hosemaster on a rant, or someone telling me something I don’t know about Tuscany or Tasmania.

Then there are blogs that bother me and make me worry. They tend to fall into the category of naivete — marked by passion, but undermined by lack of knowledge and understanding, and by a susceptibility of the blogger being flummoxed and flattered by a winery or wine association. This is both an inevitability, given the nature of blogging, and a danger.

The worst thing a wine blog can do is to shill, however inadvertantly, for a winery or region. The minute I read about someone’s “delightful” visit to so-and-so, they’ve lost me. Visits may indeed be delightful, but the writer shouldn’t say so, because it just sounds — I don’t know — smarmy and credulous. If the blogger describes the visit as “delightful” then her credibility suffers, in my mind. What if the wines suck? Would the blogger say so? Or is the blogger so delighted with the visit — with the hospitality of the owners, the personally guided tour of the winery and caves, the lovely luncheon by the pool, catered by the winery chef, and with the gorgeous tranquillity of wine country — that he’s unable even to know that the wine is mediocre?

Ditto for writing that might have come straight out of a press kit, which too many wine blogs sound like. I saw a blog the other day where the Lodi Winegrape Commission sent the blogger a case of samples, and the blogger wrote that Lodi is “one of the up-and-coming wine regions” and is a “gem of a wine region.” He compared Lodi to Napa and Sonoma and determined that Lodi’s wines “rival” theirs, but at lesser prices.

Now, I’m sorry, but these are not true statements. Lodi is not “up-and-coming,” it’s been around for many years and actually peaked some time ago. Lodi’s wines do not rival Napa’s or Sonoma’s nor for the most part do they wish to do so. Lodi is about value, or should be, and when it’s wines get too expensive, they’ll suffer. (Which is probably happening to some right now.)

If the blogger in question had done his homework he would know that what he said about Lodi isn’t true. How should he have done his homework? By reading, reading, reading the work of those who came before him and who know better. Throughout history, wine knowledge was accumulated slowly by individuals who studied it for years, then had apprentices to whom they handed down their knowledge. This assured continuity, which in turn gave us a collective inheritance, a bedrock, called “truth.” We had the medieval guilds and now their modern descendants, V&E departments, and even groupings like the M.W.s who similarly try to pass organized knowledge on from generation to generation. If you think about it, this is the only way real knowledge and truth can exist in a turbulent world. Imagine if, say, medical knowledge were haphazardly reinvented every day, with every doctor coming to his own opinions regardless of what the medical community had previously determined to be true. I would not want to be treated by a witch doctor who hadn’t studied his craft, or who thought that his opinion was as valid as those who worked harder and longer than he had.

The problem with this age of the Internet is that everybody feels he can be his own expert. But just because somebody says something doesn’t make it true.  

I fully understand that every wine blogger has got to start somewhere, and that is usually from a zero knowledge base. However, if you really want to learn about wine, you need to know what people with more experience and understanding have to say about things, and then go on from there. You can’t just come out with inaccuracies or repeat banalities told to you by a P.R. person.

That’s why this kind of thing is a danger. I’m not really worried that genuine wine writing is going away, because the cream will always rise to the top. But we — the wine community — do have to be alert to naive bloggers, with potentially sizable readerships, being “useful idiots” for wineries and associations.

Having said all that, I’ll revert back to Shana’s comment. “Not everyone wants to read tasting notes from an experienced wine critic (or vice versa) and that is where some of the not so educated bloggers come in and while they may not have the experience, they still are a part of the wine world and can influence those who would rather read their POV.” I have now read these words many times, and they fill me with complex, confused emotions.

  1. Steve, it must be very tiring for you to wake up every morning with a compulsion to rassle with the wine-blogging beast. It makes for fascinating reading, I must say, but often I think you are hellbent on discrediting bloggers, and in this case it seems you wield a way-too-broad brush — even when you cast an appearance of being specific.

    Today you see fit to call out one blogger, Shana Ray, by name and with multiple quotes. And then you put the screws to another blogger who is left anonymous. That alone violates basic journalism as well as the spirit of blogging, in my humble opinion. The fact that Someone With A Blog wrote positive things about Lodi can not and should not be used to tar blogging as a legitimate and important medium for communication. In fact, if we Web readers were allowed to view the actual blog you slam, we would be able to determine for ourselves if the opinions reflected therein are worthy giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to. It’s called the sniff test (which, by the way, works for print as well).

    Instead, you do the job for us. You told us that the Lodi-loving blogger is not worth our approval or even attention. Open and shut case. And in doing so, all you have actually done is confirmed Shana’s fairly simple and irrefutable point: bloggers present individual “interesting points of perspective” and this is precisely what makes the blogging community “interesting.”

    You may well be right about the blogging Lodi-phile, but that is no reason for you to use ONE blogger as an example that casts bloggers in general as PR-pushovers, shillers or the like. The truth is that there may well be blogs out there offering opinions that over-reach and/or gush, turning what you consider “good” into what they consider “great.” Well, guess what: in the free market of ideas, no one is talking about those blogs. For every nameless blog you cite as a terrifying example of journalistic excess, there are plenty more that present well-conceived, thoughtful, even-handed wine commentary and reporting.

  2. The fact is anyone can start a blog and as you said many may start from ground zero. However, there’s a silver lining to even the worst blog–it will either die or advance. It will die because the author tires of writing the posts, or becomes self-aware and discouraged at realizing how bad they are. It will advance because the author keeps writing and in the spirit of persistence improves over time.

    How much time will depend on the individual blogger. And while I don’t know if this is comforting to you or more scary, I believe a blogger can start off from ground zero and overtime become truly great. Call it bravery or stupidity, but the fact that they can make this progression public is still baffling.

    In that way blogging has brought something new to the table. We can publish ourselves before others have deemed us ready, and yes, we can even continue publishing ourselves until we become ready.

  3. One of the things we say about “social media” is that it’s like a conversation at a cocktail party. People say smart things, dumb things, boring things, etc. A blogger does the same. Nothing wrong with moving on to listen to or read something else.

    A newbie will discover an over-the-top sweet jammy zin and tell you that it is “awesome, dude.” But someone else will actually like that wine and glad it was brought to his attention.

    Just as you choose your friends, choose your blogs, and don’t worry about how popular the next guy is, or whether he gets all the pretty girls or not.

    Everyone can now write about whatever he wants, publish it, and claim to be an expert in that field. Ignore it or not, and move on or not.

    This is a whole new world and it isn’t going away. It’s awesome, dude.

  4. Wow Steve! Must be really hard to be the judge jury and executioner of the wine blogger world!!!! While comparing the medical profession to wine blogging to you may seem to be an appropriate comparison to you, I say ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
    Comparing something that is life and death to something that is TRULY an opinion is really offensive.
    I read many wine blogs, magazines books, reviews, etc. I have bought and drank highly rated wines that I absolutely hated. Guess what, that is my opinion. That is my taste in wine. There are those that would agree with me and those that wouldn’t. Guess what, that is their opinion. All are valid and all make for good reading and conversation.
    I say to you….go back to the stone age when the wine world spit on California wines and only the French were thought true wine makers.
    I don’t like that world and I don’t like the wine blogger world you propose.

  5. Steve – let the flaming begin! OMG you have dared to criticize blogging! That’s like saying the Cambridge police behaved “stupidly.” – oops.

    Tish – I’ve read Steve’s piece several times, in the context of his earlier posts as well. I just don’t see where he is “hellbent on discrediting bloggers.” Here he simply quoted from a comment he received from another blogger, then held up an example of a blog that in a sense has discredited itself (without holding up the writer to public ridicule, which some zealous lawyer might want to construe as libel).

    As far as I see Steve has suggested that this is a class of blogs – I call them naive blogs. I run across blogs that fall in this class all the time, as I’m sure you do. You and I are qualified to perform the sniff test, but the danger is that not everyone is. Misinformation is propagated, with results ranging from people coming in my tasting room telling me that biodynamic wines are better (read it on a blog) to Medicare recipients convinced that if health reform passes, gov’t agents will be coming to their living rooms forcing them to sign end-of-life directives (blogs & chain emails).

    I agree with Dylan that for the most part naive blogs will either improve as the writer gains the necessary knowledge & perspective, or die. However, shill blogs will not die so long as money (or even free wine) is behind them. As with the naive blogs, my concern is not with the content per se, but with the qualifications of readers to sniff out the good from the bad.

  6. Steve: I’m sure that you’re going to catch a lot of flack from bloggers over this post, mainly because there is a certain percentage of the blogging world that likes to think that everything is great and everyone has an awesome blog worth reading.

    Tish’s comments aside (he’s right), I actually agree with a lot of what you’re saying here. There are blogs that are shills for various regions/wineries/etc. I can say this because I’ve been accused of it myself (by people who don’t actually read my blog I might add).

    I think it’s important to remember this though — yes, there are bad wine blogs. But aren’t there “bad” members of most any industry and community?

    There are plenty of “traditional” wine writers that I don’t have much respect for. Every wine region has crappy producers. Every town has restaurants we should all avoid, right?

    My point is that this is just how the world is, not just how the wine blogging world is. Let the customer (reader, diner, etc.) decide. Natural selection!

    That said…Steve, can we lay off the bloggers now? You write about bloggers too often.

  7. I would agree with your respondents. It bears keeping in mind how consumers use information on wines, which is to say, where do they go for their information. There undoubtedly is an age divide with those under say 45 turning (only) to the Internet for commentary (everyone relies on friends as well). But does that mean they turn to “bad” blogs. Unlikely.

    Draw the parallel to other consumer goods like electronics. There are a dozen ~go to~ websites that offer in depth reviews on various products like cell phones, with several, like Gizmodo and Engadget, serving as an umbrella blogs. Personal cyber diaries just don’t cut it. Levels of competance apply in all fields including wine appreciation.

    And to repeat myself ad nauseum, sites that incorporate a multitude of user comments like Amazon–as distinct from those that contain only the noble views of a sage–will be that much more appealing to would be buyers.

  8. As both a PR “flack” and a “wine blogger” who writes simply because I love wine, I agree that there is a difference between rewriting a press release and doing your homework, but press releases has been regurgitated for years. This is not a new phenomenon to the wine blogging world, nor is free gifts to the mommy bloggers.
    The news (speaking generally) has always had a bias and used scare tactics or fluff stories for the sake of entertainment. I learned at a young age to take the news with a grain of salt… Same goes with anything I read online through a blog, a tweet, a review on Yelp, or even an article in a magazine.

    Granted, I am much younger than you and many of your readers, but the youth are the wine buyers and drinkers of the future and the internet has allowed us to personalize the way we get information and given us more choices of what we read. And that is the way we like it.

    You stated that you were going to explain the difference of good and bad blogs “for some of us.” My case was that for the rest of us, we read what we like. I personally do not like reading a rewritten press release just as much as I dislike reading them as is, but with the adaptation of the social media press release, consumers now have easy access to press releases anyways.

    If someone reads a blog post/press release written by a “useful idiot” on Lodi wines and decides to try it based on the blog post, so be it. That is their problem. Hell, people still drink Franzia and swear by it. This does not discredit true wine critics like you, but I think people should be allowed to write their opinions and make up their own minds about what makes a good blog or a bad blog.

    I am not sure why you have complex, confused emotions about where the internet is taking us, but to not think you have to adapt to this new way of communication is absurd. In your previous post, the wine magazines are not going anywhere and they still can be relevant. I simply think there is room for both.

    As you stated in Tom Wark’s post — “Can’t we all just get along?”

  9. Hi Shana — I’m confused because we’re all confused about where this thing is going. At this very moment there’s a talk on our local NPR affiliate in San Francisco about blogging and/or print. The “expert” is saying that print is absolutely dead. I don’t agree with that. And I have adapted to this new way of communication, haven’t I, through this blog, which in a little more than 1 year has had its share of success. So it’s not like I’m putting down blogging! I’m just trying to move the conversation forward.

  10. Steve,
    You are a great writer, but why expend so much energy on trying to discredit the wine blogging world? I have mixed feelings because you have not singled out our blog. Should I be pleased because you believe we are decent and not a candidate for bashing, or disappointed because you’ve never read our blog?
    I’ve been tasting wine since you were in diapers, and making tasting notes for a long, long time. And my partner and daughter, Kori, probably has the best palate of anyone in Washington not named Paul Gregutt. Just because we write a blog rather than full-time for a print publication doesn’t in of itself make us less competent or less professional.
    Observing other bloggers at the Wine Bloggers Conference for two years, I believe the real issue is that there are two distinct types of bloggers, the serious blooger and the have fun-get free wine crowd. Without a scientific poll, I would estimate that about 2/3rds of all wine bloggers are serious about what they are doing. Unfortunately, the other 1/3rd are just in it for fun and free wine, and therefore, may deserve some of your criticism.
    My only request is that you quit painting us all with the same brush. As the wine blogging industry matures, I believe it will sort itself out just as print has. I’m old enough to remember a time when many well-known wine reviewers were basically drunks, too!

  11. As the anonymous blogger who was “shilling” for Lodi, I just have a few comments. First, as someone pointed out to me, I did not write that the wines in Lodi “rival” those from Napa or Sonoma. I wrote that the winemakers in Lodi want to make wines to rival those from Napa or Sonoma.

    As for Lodi being up-and-coming, I stand by that statement. Lodi may have peaked in the past, but that does not mean Lodi could not enjoy a renaissance. My perception is that the people in Lodi are looking to make a comeback. There can’t be anything wrong with that.

    Finally, I hope my post made it clear that I had received some samples and information from the Lodi Winegrowers Commission. I think I put that in the first paragraph. I would hope that people reading the post would see that and understand that I might have some positive things to say about the wine region. To post positive things without disclosing the receipt of the materials and wine would be, in my view, unethical. When I get around to writing about the wines, the fact they were received as samples will be clearly stated.

    Thanks for your post. We need to keep each other honest and aware of what we’re doing.

  12. The uncertainty is part of the fun.

    Not necessarily speaking about just you adapting. It is something I come across a lot in my line of work. People working for brands that want to delete all bad reviews instead of just responding to them. Or marketing people that are scared to jump into social media marketing because they are afraid of what people might say.

    I like to think that there is room for us all… And being at the Wine Bloggers Conference this past weekend, I did see a large variety of bloggers and personalities. As well as people who want to observe us because they want to know more.

    Hope to see you at next years conference.

  13. Indeed. The growth and education of the wine blogosphere is much the same as evolution of palate, which I write (and think) about quite a bit.

    I report and blog about wine with much more confidence, authority and sheer pleasure than I did five – even three – years ago. Isn’t it like that with anything? Stick with it and advance; get bored or overwhelmed, as Dylan says, and eventually stop.

    All I know is that one doesn’t pop out of the womb appreciating dry French rose (well, maybe Jancis did) but I swirl it by the gallons now.

    Either way, in the age of DIY, people want to take wine back. And we are here to support them. They don’t want to be told what to like anymore by those they can’t relate to.

    Here’s a revolutionary one: The other day, my editor asked me to consider throwing a group wine tasting at work and publishing the results in a separate box with one of my stories. I’d put a bunch of bottles on a table and ask my co-workers – a page designer, pop music critic and janitor, whoever showed up, really – what they liked best. At first, I was confused; even a little offended. Then I got it.

  14. Shana: if not sooner.

  15. Bill, the reason I didn’t identify you in my original post is because I didn’t want to be perceived as knocking anyone specific. Thank you for your involvement in wine blogging.

  16. In reality, within this new world, the truth lies in the following. No matter a bloggers resume or experience, if people value their POV, they will read the blog. If they don’t they won’t.

    So in the end does a blogger need any more credibility than a following? With the ability for anyone to self publish, they only person you need to convince that your writings are worth while is the reader.

    Is this a break through, or a pit fall? Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts.

  17. Dr. H., it’s not Steve vs. Shana. It’s a conversation.

  18. Yea, this is all seems to be being taken way too seriously. Both blogging and wine.

    * Blog = web log. A log of whatever anyone wants to put up about anything on the web.
    * Wine = grapes whose sugar has been fermented into alcohol.

    While certainly both can take the range from awful to sublime, neither should be compared with life and death matters (as much as sometimes I might feel I would die/kill for wine) nor taken so self-importantly as to believe it is a craft necessitated by guilds and mentor-apprentice relationships.

    Relax. Go have a glass of wine. And read a printed book (about something other than blogging).

  19. Cream rises to the top… (Not sure where the rest of it goes.)

  20. Jo,

    So does slime… ;)

  21. It is Pepsi vs. Coke or Mac vs. PC or Red Wine vs. White. We all have our specific opinions of which is better and we have to choice to read, drink, eat, play with whatever we choice to. That was my point to begin with. :)

  22. “With the ability for anyone to self publish, they only person you need to convince that your writings are worth while is the reader.

    Is this a break through, or a pit fall? Would love to hear everyone’s thoughts.”

    In the 1970s, several wine publications of note came into existence. Among them, Connoisseurs’ Guide, the Wine Advocate, the California Grapevine and the Wine Spectator still exist today.

    What do all of them have in common? Each of them started as a venture in self-publishing. There was no substantial entry cost to print at the time and a very willing market.

    There is no substantial entry cost to self-publishing on the Internet. Anyone can do it.

    Does an audience make a source of information credible? Now that is an entirely different question.

  23. “The problem with this age of the Internet is that everybody feels he can be his own expert. But just because somebody says something doesn’t make it true.”

    Steve you nailed it with this one. Take some time to understand what blogs really are, how they really work, and what their real place in the wine world is, then return to the critique of them. You maybe a wine writing expert, but you consistently fail to understand the idea of the consumer voice. Your lack of understanding that some wine blogs are consumers speaking, while others are professionals, and yet others are government or regional bodies, worries me. “Wine blogs” do not equal one thing, style, or type of writing, nor should they.

  24. I will say the same about blogs that I say about wine reviewers in general. Neither is any good unless you follow and agree with their point of view or taste. Before anyone complains about how balanced a blog is that critic should first analyze the blog itself, see if every review is glowing with out any flaws pointed out! I have been telling my customers for years that professional critics and the numbers they assign to wine are only valid if you follow that particular writer and generally agree with their taste/ reviews.
    Whether a glowing entry in a blog or a glowing review in a magazine, there is no use to the reader unless there is familiarity with the writer and his or her tastes and bias.

  25. sao anash says:

    I’m a PR/Marketing person. Not quite sure how I feel about the blogsphere in general. Some of it is great reading, some; not so great. What I wanted to say is that this site in particular is becoming a pretty legit forum for discussion of topics that are controversial and merit diverse opinions and perceptions. What I appreciate about this site, and the people that frequently (and infrequently) comment here is that the tone of their responses has remained somewhat civil. Though folks get heated and worked up, it has not become a back-biting, nasty forum. As a wine professional, I truly appreciate this. I hope this tone continues. It’s great to hear from industry folks and consumers from varied back grounds and with diverging opinions. It’s a good tool for learning.

  26. Sao, thanks for pointing this out. I encourage discussion and debate here, but only if it’s civil. I’m glad to say I’ve only deleted 3 or 4 comments in the life of this blog (other than spam), and each time I did so, I privately emailed the individuals, explained my reasons for doing so, and encouraged them to re-submit their points without resorting to personal attack, whether on me or someone else.

  27. “Ditto for writing that might have come straight out of a press kit, which too many wine blogs sound like.”

    I think this is a fair statement, though the question is how much is too much. Occasionally I’ll see in a Parker review or even a WE tasting note accredited to a certain S.H. editorialization outside of the organoleptic profile of a tasting note. Like “winery X makes the best varietal Y in region Z” or “producer X has had a stunning run for several vintages.” I’d say contextualizing in these instances is helpful to the consumer, though these sorts of lines have a certain PR sound to them.

    So where’s the line? Is it when a blogger allows the hospitality to cloud judgment? Parker is famous for raising a the score of a certain Bordeaux wine after being mauled by the owner’s dog. Should bloggers thus lower scores when greeted by an amiable vineyard dog?

    In part, I think the wine press’ infatuation with wine as a lifestyle product has fed into bloggers’ infatuation with the lifestyle aspect of wine. Getting treated like royalty at winery and being bribed with free wine makes these bloggers feel like they are living the good life. If it makes them feel good, which seems to be the idea that’s been cultivated for so long, then of course they will write propaganda for their benefactors.

    One last thought–let’s not forget Parker was the first wine blogger. But he had a plog, a paper log, called the Wine Advocate in the pre-internet days. He was unqualified, but rose to the top based on his ethics and effort. Of course, his tastes are only applicable to those who like the low acid, high extract style. But he is consistent and honest. It may take a while, but a blog Parker may emerge.

    In the meantime, people who are serious about wine should boycott the blogs and the wineries that are overtly involved in the shill game. I know which blogs I think are completely ridiculous or just outright lack credibility. Any winery that employs them by paying them wine, I will simply avoid. I’ll start with these Lodi wines on the unnamed blog you mentioned, though I have a feeling they’re not anything I’d be interested in since I prefer cooler climate wines.

  28. Steve,

    I have to say I was a bit disappointed with your article. Not so much because of the subject matter but due to the vitriol with which your points were delivered. You used Mr. Wilson’s blog to call out wine bloggers in general over their integrity, (I appreciate that you didn’t call him out by name) but I think you missed something in the comments directed towrds him. First of all, as a reader of Mr. Wilson’s blog I have to say that he would fashion himself more of an educator than writer. Secondly he has been very clear from the beginning regarding his opinions and knowledge base.

    The reason I’m writing however to address a larger issue.

    If you really want’s to fix what is wrong in the wine blogosphere, (and goodness knows it needs some fixing) I suggest to you that such abrasive posting is not the answer. In fact, as West Coast Editor of the Wine Enthusiast, you are one of the few people on the planet actually positioned to be the positive influence you so deeply wish blogger’s would find.

    The Wine Enthusiast I think, really has an opportunity here. Instead of playing lip service to these issues, in what I prerceive to be a negative manner, why not reach out the the blogging community with a program designed address these issues at the source. Wouldn’t reaching out to bloggers through online seminars, forums or other positive means help enhance the experience of dedicated Wine Enthusiast readers at large? Would it not help the Wine Enthusiast company forward their own agenda? I, as a long time subscriber, believe the answer to both questions to be a resounding yes. Who knows, you might even find some unexpected talent. Help them to help us and we all win.

    Anyway, I’ve loved your writing over the years and will continue to support both you and the Wine Enthusiast. It’s just that I constantly see “traditional media” carping on about the those that blog (I don’t by the way) and frankly, it’s getting a bit old. I understand why, but it drives me crazy that other than complaining no-one seems to do anything about it.

    In the meantime, get to know Bill a little bit, see what he’s really about. Perhaps you could both sit down to a nice of Lodi zinfandel with the President.

    Take care

  29. Shilling in any medium is usually bad.

    Democratization is overall a good thing – regardless of the medium.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, why do we talk so much about mediums?

  30. The medium is the massage.

  31. Walt, first, if Pres. Obama invites Bill and me to the White House I’ll gladly go, but Lodi Zin in the summer heat of D.C. would not be my choice of beverage! Anyhow, on the larger issue you raise: Every time I express any criticism of anything blog-related at all, I’m accused of “painting everyone with the same brush” or assaulting all bloggers or being paranoid about print losing out to social media, etc. In other words, there’s an awful lot of defensivenss on the part of some bloggers. They (not all of them) are a touchy lot, quick to take offense, slow to forgive. I mean, I take heat all the time for a lot of stuff — not just what I say in blogs, but for reviews (from angry winemakers) and other things I write. Taking heat, and taking it in stride, is part of being a grownup. If you’ve followed my blog for any time you’d know that I deeply respect wine blogging and those who pioneered it, and am enormously grateful that I’m able to do it. If I hated and feared blogging like some say I do, I wouldn’t blog! What I do, on occasion, is to critique aspects of wine blogging that I believe could be improved, so that the greater wine blogosphere will have greater credibility. Finally, believe me when I say I read every criticism of me carefully and I take each one seriously. I’m still learning. I hope to never stop learning. Other wine bloggers teach me lessons and I’m grateful to absorb them. So next time I chastise some aspect of blogging, don’t accuse me of tarring everyone with the same brush or being anti-blog or anti-social media or anti-Millennial or any of that stuff.

  32. I find this entire discussion to be delightful! But I did actually use that word to describe a cool Rosé on a hot day. But what do I know. I’m just a human being with a limited number of adjectives. I think the funny thing about all this is that Steve gets more attention and mileage for his brand by being provocative and baiting. I don’t think this rabble-rousing is accidental. That’s an important skill for building a following, but also a slippery slope. Just keep writing no matter what side you are on.

  33. Steve, did you use a sock puppet names “Chuck” at Another Wine Blog? It appears that you did, based upon url. If you did not, if “Chuck” is a real person who happens to also work at Wine Enthusiast, you should clarify same.

  34. David, I have no idea who Chuck is. What concerns me is that if someone comes out and says something on my behalf that anyone would think that person is paid by me or Wine Enthusiast. I need to remind people that my blog is me, on my own. It is not a Wine Enthusiast blog. I don’t know if you know this, but I am not an employee of Wine Enthusiast. I am an independent contractor. So let this be my official clarification: I don’t know who Chuck is, so you can let that go.

  35. Thank you. I shall. And no, I did not know you were an independent contractor.

  36. David: thank you.

  37. Steve,

    I agree, perhaps a nice dry zin rose may be a better choice. Do you know any good ones?

    But I think you have me wrong if you feel I’m accusing you of “painting all bloggers with the same brush.” I was simply defending someone I have follwed for the past few years that I feel was undeserving of some of your comments.

    As I said before, many bloggers could and should be brought to task, I just don’t feel Bill is one of them. I also said above that I feel (and I hope you do) that Bill, by the tone of his own post here, is not one of the “touchy lot” you describe. I think he simply pointed out a few facts, showed his appreciation to you as a blogger, and was nothing if not proffesional in his comments. In fact, I’m sure Bill feels that he can learn from you just as I can (and have) learned from you both. It just seems to me that the tone of your post doesn’t encourage that. Listening to Bill’s podcast’s would have me believe that he and I have very similar passion’s and knowledge regarding wine. Yet I can still pick up nuggets now and again that make him worth following, and have never found him to be a “shill.”

    The revelation you feel that you can (and do) learn from bloggers is encouraging.

    Now, do I follow your blog on a regular basis? Guilty as charged. I have checked in now and again, but perhaps your open mindedness (is that a word?) regarding this issue, your willingness to discuss it and your undenialable talent, allows that perhaps I should be follow you here on a more regular basis. I hope you’ll welcome me as a regular follower. As I previously stated, I’ve been reading you in print for years and have always learned and appreciated you as a journalist and commentator.

    I guess, simply stated, that I saw this as you, as a titan of the genre, calling out one of the little guys that I felt didn’t deserve it. (Sorry about that misplace article. See why I don’t blog myself?) And again, to your credit, I’m sure I’m one of the few here, or anywhere that knew who you were discussing as you didn’t name names, a fact not lost on me.

    Finally, I apologize if my comment’s felt like a personal attack on you. Let’s make this water under the bridge and write off my comments as not so much an attack on you but as a defense of one of the little guy’s that I think is fighting the good fight.

    Thanks Steve

  38. Walt, it’s been hard for me to respond to all the cross fire. Let me just say, thank you. I feel really bad at having stirred up such a stir. It was not my intention. I think there is blame on all sides. For myself, I am going to be more careful in the future before I criticize individual blogs. I still hope to contribute to the effort to lift blogdom to a higher level.

  39. It’s interesting to go back and read some of these past (but still ongoing) arguments about blogging. It’s definitely not going away is it? :) But is it getting any better? I guess that would be the question…

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