I have nothing against wine blogs–quite the opposite, I technically write one, I guess. I also follow several really great blogs and really admire their authors and are inspired by them daily. The problem I have with them is that as a “unit” there is really not much cohesion and at the same time not much in the way of differing viewpoints.
Both could be certainly due to the subject of our blogs: Wine appreciation is rather personal and certainly contextual. I might like a wine simply due to the fact that it tastes good to me. I might like a wine because it was part of an overall incredible experience for me. Another drinker/taster might be drinking the exact same wine in a completely different (or even a very similar) context and have a different opinion of the wine. When you come right down to it, though, unless a wine is “flawed” in some way, it is rarely “bad”. Sure, I might like it more than someone else, but it is difficult to find a “bad” (again, not “flawed”) wine.
I think I can safely say that we all write wine blogs because we all like wine and we all like to write (mind-blowing observation, I know). I feel like I get stuck in a bit of a rut, however, even though the wines I am drinking change from night to night and week to week. On the other hand, I find it rather challenging (and dare I say exciting?) when either we have friends coming over for dinner and I go down to select the wine or I get a call asking for advice on what wine should be paired with a particular meal. As we all know, there are no absolutes in any of these questions, so for me, at least, I try and take in as many factors as possible to make the decision. In short, it requires me to be a bit creative.
I might be off-base here (and certainly call me on it if you think I am) but we as wine bloggers do not seem to challenge one another enough to step outside of our comfort zone and tap into the creativity that we all have. It seems to happen with other types of blogs (from photography to literature to even food) that I follow–every once in a while there is a concept of a “theme” introduced and it is up to the blogger to interpret the theme the way he or she desires. (Perhaps something similar already happens with wine and I am just a bit too obtuse to realize it.)
I listen to NPR all the time and last week was WHYY’s (the Philly station) Spring Fund Raising drive. Normally, I tend to tune out the calls for membership (after years of feeling guilty for never joining we finally joined last year–so now instead of “tuning out” due to shame, we “tune out” with a sense of smugness that is likely very annoying), but this year I heard something very interesting: WHYY was offering a year subscription to the Wine Spectator with every membership. At first, I was a little ticked off–when we signed up, we got a year of Newsweek–which quickly stopped publishing their print version shortly after we joined.
Why would the Spectator do it?
Then it hit me–they might be in need of a larger subscription base–I assume most of their income is derived from ad space, the cost of which is determined by the number of subscriptions. Is it a coincidence that Newsweek stopped their print version after trying the same tactic a few years ago? I guess we shall see.
My point in all of this? I am not sure, exactly. I never participated much in the debate over print wine mags vs. online outlets (including blogs). I left that to the likes of Steve Heimhoff and Joe Roberts. Could the long predicted (at least by some) demise of traditional print media be coming (or even already here)? Who knows? I do know that we as bloggers could do a lot more to inspire one another to be creative and write posts that begin to challenge our “normal” way of writing so as to be a viable alternative to the glossies.
Thus, this is what I propose. We set up our own weekly (monthly?) challenge around a certain theme. Wine “variety” is far too obvious and lazy. Instead, I suggest broader themes that leave open the chance for much more interpretation and creativity. My first thought was “Transportation”. That opens up a panoply of options: wines consumed while traveling, wines with a vehicle on the label, a wine that I drove an hour and a half to purchase, and so on. Or we could do “Green” which has an equally wide range of possible connections to wine. Really there is no limitation other than the creative ability to tie it back into the overarching theme. Who knows? Perhaps we could even vote (or allow readers to vote) on the submissions under each theme (but that is just the competitor in me talking).
It is a small and perhaps insignificant step, but I really do think that we as wine bloggers need to branch out of the traditional or habitual ways that we have been approaching our passion.
Let me know what you think. Good idea? Horrible? Suggestions to make it better?