Living the wine writer lifestyle
Check out the new ish of Mutineer Magazine, which has a multipage interview with me by a guy I’m glad to call my friend, editor in chief Alan Kropf. (The article isn’t online, so you’ll have to buy the zine.) Alan put me through my paces, asking good questions and letting me go on at length. He did a good job editing, so the article is really an accurate representation of our conversation. (And the pictures are totally cool!)
Alan wanted to know my thoughts about “the controversial nature of my writing.” I told him I was surprised by this question, because I didn’t know my writing was controversial. Sure, three years ago there was that blowup about the Rodney Strong “Rockaway” Cabernet Sauvignon (and if you don’t know what that was all about, it doesn’t matter, because it’s ancient history). But it blew over quickly, and as I told Alan, the wine bloggers needed time to get to know me, and vice versa. As far as I’m concerned, all is smooth sailing now.
Alan got me reminiscing about the 1980s and how I got into wine. I love remembering those good old days when, even in San Francisco, not too many people were into wine, and those who were felt like part of an underground cult. One of the things I liked best about the scene was that you met the most interesting people, whom you otherwise never would have. I ended up joining the old Les Amis du Vin group (at one point, they asked me to head it up, but I didn’t want to). We’d meet once a week or so in a restaurant to taste wine with an invited proprietor. I still have my notes from those days. In fact, I advise budding wine lovers to take plenty of notes and keep every one of them. You never know. Look what Michael Broadbent did with all his old tasting notes.
I guess I should consider myself lucky that a younger-orientated magazine like Mutineer is interested in me. But I’m interested in them, so it’s a two way street. I’m interested in how people in their 20s and 30s drink and think about wine. I want to know how they make their buying decisions. I’m curious about whom they listen to when it comes to recommendations. The conventional wisdom is that they go on Facebook or Twitter, and their “friends” tell them what to buy, but I’ve never believed that. I have 2,400 Facebook friends. If each of them recommends a wine (and believe me, lots of them do), am I better off with personal reccos, or am I more confused than ever? The latter, I should think. I won’t buy a wine just because a Facebook friend, whom I may never even have met, tells me to. I’m much more likely to buy a wine if an expert tells me to. And in order to be an expect, you have to have earned the position, in my book.
Alan Kropf called me “a trailblazing wine blogger who is leveraging his experience as a respected wine writer to help evolve the medium through his fearlessly opinionated blog.” That hyperbole is beyond me, but I appreciate Alan for understanding that, in my blog, I try to go beyond what I write in both Wine Enthusiast and the books I’ve been privileged to publish for University of California Press, to express as pure an opinion as you’re likely to get from a wine critic these days. There are times I write stuff on this blog that I can’t believe I said. But I hit the “publish” button, and it seems to work.