Why don’t wine Internet sites get the traffic of food Internet sites?
And what can wine-istas learn from successful foodistas?
There’s this guy, John Mitzewich, whose cooking recipe YouTubes have 83,143 subscribers, nearly four times those of Jamie Oliver; his upload views are 25 million. He even had an interview with the Food Network, which was interested in offering him his own show. (It didn’t happen…yet).
There’s another food YouTube site, Hippy Gourmet, that got so popular, the author now has a PBS television show, in addition to gigs on the DISH Network, a local San Francisco cable channel, and even shows on Comcast on Demand.
Then there’s Pailin’s Hot Thai Kitchen, which started just over a year ago and, according to the San Francisco Chronicle (the inspiration for this post), has been embraced by the online food community, “posting her videos on their own websites.”
The Chronicle story is a compelling narrative of how budding Food Network wannabes, armed with little more than cheap videocams and a little talent, are turning themselves into overnight sensations–future Paula Deens and Tyler Florences.
Search YouTube for “food” and you’ll get 2.5 million hits. Search for “wine” and the number drops to 1/6 of that. The point being that amateur home cooks are way ahead of amateur wine writers in successfully using the Internet to launch careers.
If you discount Gary Vaynerchuk, all the activity on wine blogs, even with the new, Vaynerchuk-inspired turn to video, has not created a single star. It’s very curious, and demands an explanation. I suppose that “food” as a category is always going to be much bigger than “wine,” in terms of economic impact and popularity. Everybody loves to eat. Lots of people love to cook. Not everybody likes wine, and there’s a limit to how interesting a wine video can be. Watching a chef slice, dice and spice her way through the preparation of a meal on TV can actually be exciting (as we’ve understood since Julia Child proved it). But how interesting can a wine writer be on a video interviewing a winemaker, asking him or her the same trite questions: “How did you get started? What’s your favorite wine?” Then too, we can actually go into our kitchens and try to recreate a dish we saw being prepared on TV or the Internet, whereas we can’t exactly make wine after watching a winemaker do it.
There may be an inherent limitation to the popularity of a wine Internet site, but if you’re a wine blogger, you have to be inspired by the emergent success of people like Mitzewich, Hippy Gourmet and Pailin. They’re pushing viewers away from their television sets and toward their computers for entertainment and education. I’m not sure how the first Internet wine star is going to do it (again, excluding Gary V.), but whatever it is, it’s going to have to make for compelling computer viewing. It’s show biz, and some things never change.