User ID:

Remember me
Lost password?

Monday Manifestos
The King of The Wine Blog Rants

By Charles Olken

It is easy to rant about things that bug you. Lord knows I do it often enough. A couple of years ago, when I belatedly discovered the wine blogosphere and the many, many thoughtful people who post there, I got drawn in to the conversations, debates, foolishness, argy-bargy that goes on in such places and I liked it. Here were all these folks, many of them new to wine and others simply new to writing in public about wine pontificating on everything under the sun from Biodynamic viticulture to the amazing value of Tweeting. You do know what Tweeting is, don’t you? You just press your fingers together and 140 characters later, you are a writer.

I have tried my hand at this “Tweeting”, and if I do say so myself, I am amazingly erudite in 140 characters. The problem is that I can’t stand being limited to 140 characters. And I hate that “you are” has become “u r”. I hate it because I just don’t get it. Maybe it’s an age thing. But, I do tweet—just not consistently or on any kind of schedule. Part of the problem is that trying to say anything meaningful in 140 characters is just not easy. Maybe a couple of thousand, but not 140. And, it does not matter that I have hundreds of followers, most of whom I have never met, never will and who have signed on to be my followers because I have “wine” in my profile, and I mention “wine” in my posts. Folks seem to like that even if they are in Australia or South Africa or they simply want to sell me something. Writing the word wine is like putting honey out to catch bears. Maybe you will catch a few, but mostly you will catch flies.

No one writes to me when I author my chirps. . . . . er, I mean my tweets. I can chirp away for half an hour and all I get in response is chirps from other chirpers that have nothing to do with mine. Do you know how many of my fellow wine chirpers like to tell me about what they had for breakfast? Or what their children had for breakfast. There is even one, although I have expunged her from my list, who knows a lot about wine but likes to tell her followers (I follow anybody who is silly enough to follow me) all about her continuing experiences of drinking too much. That was too much for me.

Well, the real joy for me in the wine blogosphere is not Twitter, although you can follow me @CharlieOlken if the mood strikes you. The real joy is in other people’s blogs. I read many of them regularly and many more irregularly, and while there about a thousand wine blogs I have not read, the ones I read are pretty interesting. That is the raison d’etre behind TUESDAY TRIBUTES, The Best of The Blogs that appears in this space on—you guessed it—Tuesdays. There are some very smart folks out there. And not only do I like their writings, I like spouting off in the comments sections of those blogs.

In fact I like it so much that one of those bloggists, the redoubtable Tom Wark, from whom I have learned so much and used so freely in constructing this blog, commented that my postings on other people’s blogs are often longer than the original posts. I would like to apologize for that to my many friends out there in wineblogland who have so kindly tolerated my verbosity. I never set out to hurt you—please believe me. I just find it necessary some to add my two, three and four cents worth.

Am I the King of The Wine Blog Rants? Probably not. I’m too nice for that. I am probably more the king of the “if one sentence will do, two sentences will do better” crowd. On the whole, its nice work if you can get, and you can get it if you try—for free. You can find me on Twitter(RSS ), on facebook and here. I have even written longer responses here than my original posts. Who knew the Internet could be such fun?


by ThomasPellechia
Posted on:10/11/2010 6:06:53 AM

Chirping is the more exact word. Maybe it's me, but I always thought that sentences were supposed to be complete in order for the other person to understand what is being said. Half the time, I find myself wondering what the other person/people was/were chirping about and what it has to do with what I am trying, usually unsuccessfully, to talk about.


by Samantha Dugan
Posted on:10/11/2010 9:46:32 AM

While I agree with Tom's observation that your comments are often longer, (and more thoughtful at times) than some of the posts you are commenting about I don't think I've ever really seen them as rants per se. I for one am always thrilled when I see your name and long responses, you are a very informed man Charlie and one of the most balanced guys I know. And while I may not always agree with you I always learn something from reading you and I think that is your strength, (along with being a wonderful writer) and what sets you apart from the sea of "medium" in the wine blog world. You have far more tasting experience than most of us kid so I see your "rants" as someone with far more information sharing his findings with all of us. Keep ranting love and I will happily keep reading. Oh and screw Twitter, I can't sum up anthing in 140 characters either nor can I really learn or feel anthing that is.

No Subject
by Charles E. Olken
Posted on:10/11/2010 9:54:51 AM

sam u r rite but chirp i must cuz the devil makes me do it. sad that.

by John
Posted on:10/11/2010 11:44:33 AM

Charlie I also look forward to your blog posts and comments on others. You are one of the few voices out there with the highest level of experience and the deepest context for your opinions - two things I value very highly indeed (in contrast to some who seem to think the strength of the internet is in the wisdom of lemmings).

But re: Twitter, well I'm not defending the way most people seem to use it. Like you I don't think in 140 character bites. But I find I can report that way. Report on what I'm doing for my co-workers and business partners. Trade quick bits of info with other winemakers. But especially I can share links to longer pieces (like my own blog posts) with my followers and glean links from the people I follow. This last allows me to catch news much earlier than I might if I was just stumbling around on Google.

by 1winedude
Posted on:10/11/2010 5:48:44 PM

Ah, Charlie - it took me a good long while to "get" twitter, but I can certainly say that it was worth the effort and patience.  You may find the same (though I can say from expereince that the ultimate contraction of the English language into twitterese is not something one can ever fully embrace!).



No Subject
by Anonymous
Posted on:10/11/2010 6:36:01 PM

This is a very young blog. Only a few weeks old and mostly it is a blog that is more magazine than blog in that very few posts are personal. Rather, they are little articles on their own. It reminds me of the days when I was in the newspaper business. Well, not exactly the newspaper business, but I did author a weekly column for about ten years.

This is more fun, of course, because I was pretty much expected to write a formulaic column consisting of intro text and tasting notes and running 800-1000 words. The blog is shorter, peppier and turns out to be more personal even though I cannot begin to approach the style that folks like Joe Roberts (1WineDude) or Samantha Dugan (Samantha Sans Dosage) offer to their readers.

Still, they are they and we are Connoisseurs' Guide, and it has been our job for three decades and more to tell the truth about CA wine. The real difference with our blog is that we now get to tell the truth about ourselves, our food and wine likes, our favorite blogs, writers who bug us with words that lack meaning and about good places to visit and at which to eat in wine country.

So, this may be less personal than what Sam or Joe offer, but it is big leap forward for us. And we like it. Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous ??
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:10/11/2010 6:37:50 PM

Ooops. That was me. I'm betting you would have guessed who it was. I will get the hang of this internet thing some day.

the other anonymous
by Anonymous
Posted on:10/12/2010 6:22:37 AM

And this is I.

No Subject
by Anonymous
Posted on:10/12/2010 7:58:57 AM

Me too

by Steve Heimoff
Posted on:10/13/2010 7:41:55 AM

Alas, I've given up on the twit twit thang. Between blogging, Facebook, and the actual job that pays my bills, I refuse to spend any more time on the Internet!!!!!

by Steve Heimoff
Posted on:10/13/2010 7:42:13 AM

Alas, I've given up on the twit twit thang. Between blogging, Facebook, and the actual job that pays my bills, I refuse to spend any more time on the Internet!!!!!

Listen To The Birdies Sing
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:10/13/2010 7:51:44 AM


I am left to wonder whether you are the first bird of Spring on this whole tweeting business or have been left behind while the rest of the flock has moved on.

I have not yet given up, but I do wonder about the usefulness in the long run of the various social media. With everyone chiming in all the time, does any voice have meaning or is it all gibberish? I guess I will continue to add my gibberish for a while longer.

Leave a comment below, but please limit your comments to 1,200 characters or less. We find it helpful to make a copy of our comments to be sure that they fit. In that way, you can edit them if they run long.

(Please note: your e-mail address will not be visible after posting)



Note: Refresh your browser to see your latest comments.

Having technical problems with the comment system? Click here.