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Tuesday Trials and Tribulations
I Wonder If Wine Blogging Is Dead

By Charles Olken

Is it me or has the bloom gone off the rose of wine blogging? When this form of entertainment started, there were all sorts of new voices with new perspectives rushing to the Internet to share all kinds of news, advice, insightful commentary and even investigative journalism. Now where are we? So much of what we read is derivative of other blogs or reactive to even the most banal of news.

And the reason is simple. We have said most of what we have to say already. It is not that any of us have run out of words. It is that we have run out of new topics for a blog. A blog, after all, is more conversation and less new reporting or old-fashioned information sharing. Who would write a blog entitled, “How To Understand Chianti” for example. Blogging is about opinions. It is about insider information. But, we have been there, done that. It is the rare blog that actually breaks new ground these days, and while there can be a fair bit of reporting, it is not like the wine biz is rife with fast-breaking news stories.

Consider, please, the following topics found in wine blogs yesterday. It is enough to make me go back to newspapers—if only they were not going out of business. At least the articles there are professional, are researched and read like the writers have actually taken the time to construct them.

Now, obviously, not all blogs are wasting our time, and some of yesterday’s offerings actually make sense if you like ideas repeated a third time—not such a bad idea in the case of ongoing efforts like the movement of wine consumers in opposition to the vestigial damages of Prohibition.

To wit:

--Steve Heimoff. A blog I read every day without fail. Steve is to be commended for writing something every day and usually having something to say—even when he is repeating himself. But yesterday, he must have been fresh out of ideas because he published a conversation with his dog. And even though the dog, Gus by name, has a decent sense of humor, I suspect that one has to be a doglover to appreciate Gus’ view of the world. This was pure space filler. No one would pay to read this kind of purile, time-killing prose, and even though blogs are free, they either need to be about journalism or they are going to die.

--Dirty South Wine. On his better days, Dirty South amuses, informs and is worth reading. I have no argument with his topic and appreciate that he has chosen the 8oth Anniversary of Repeal to pen a short article leading to the conclusion that we consumers should support the American Wine Consumer Coalition ( The AWCC is close to my heart. We need a group like this to represent the wine consumer’s side of the alcohol regulation arguments. The topic is right. The content is so short, however, that it barely passes for journalism.

--The Connoisseurs’ Wine Blog. Yes, us. Steve and Charlie. I occasionally like Steve’s pieces because he is a fine writer and he mind is wonderfully nuanced. But, between the two of us, I am guessing that we have discussed ranking systems, open-mindedness, authenticity and a several other topics that all bloggers come back to every few months more times than we can count. It is in the nature of blogging that there are only so many wine ideas before you get to repeat yourself.

--Jamie Goode’s Wine Blog. Goode is another good writer with useful things to say, but his blog yesterday was wholly derivative of piece of real journalism in Decanter by Andrew Jefford in which Jefford decries the seemingly unstoppable trend of the world’s wine regions to concentrate ever more on the leading (read that as most accepted) wine varieties. Goode simply re-reports Jefford’s findings and then reminds us why we like these varieties and why “terroir” means that a Californian or Australian expression of those varieties will be different from one another and different from the French versions. And, in that, we get diversity. All good ideas, but nothing that passes for a real effort at journalism of the type that Jefford has offered.

There is a lot more that could be added, but the bottom line is that either we accept blogging as a lesser form of journalism on most occasions or we must conclude that its day has come and gone and left behind too much mindless verbiage. Perhaps that is why most blogs get far fewer comments from their readers than they used to. It is also why this blog appears two to three times a week instead of the five to seven that it once aired. We can all be thankful for that.

Won’t somebody please bring back newspapers?


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Some Of Us Still Try...
by Ken Payton
Posted on:12/11/2013 10:40:23 AM

Although my posting rate has declined, still I try to inform.  There is no shortage of topics (I have four posts in the que from my recent visit to southern France). Perhaps the problem is a curiosity deficit...

by TomHill
Posted on:12/11/2013 10:51:12 AM

OK, Charlie...I'll bite.

I guess I don't share your pessimism about wine blogging. I don't think it's dead. Like most everything else, I think it will probably reach its own natural equilibrium. I don't think it has yet. The wine blogosphere is too much like a herd of yapping Pomeranians and, like you, I find it sometimes tiring & boring. To put out a blog post nearly every day, like Heimhoff...well...there's just not that much original  thoughhts to share. Like the Gus entry. I'm sure Gus is a perfectly adorable mutt who adores his master...but worth an entry in a wine blog?? Don't think so.

   I've noted that your & Steve's blog entries are not as frequent as they used to be. Well....maybe you two don't have that much new to say. That's OK w/ me...I can live with that. Just make sure your next blog entry is something that's worth reading. Your CGCW blog is one of the most worthwhile ones (to me) out there and if I don't have to look at it everyday...that's fine.

   Some of the blogs I particularly like (Marcie Newhouse's Enoteca Marcella or Alfonso Cevola's) sometimes will go over a week w/o a new post. I'm OK w/ that. Because I know their new post is gonna be worth my time to read.

As for Jefford's post on "international" varieties as an unstoppable trend in emerging wine regions..I find it kinda saddening and hope it is stoppable. Do we need another Cabernet from Macedonia, even though it adds to the diversity of the Cabernet world?? I think not. Nothing wrong w/ their native Rikatsetilli or Vranac, other than having to sell the stuff. Actually, there is. The (Tikves) Vranac, made by consulting winemaker PhilippeCambie, tastes like a dead-ringer for an over-ripe Chateauneuf. But maybe that's an exception.

   I like diversity in my wine world (probably more so than you, Charlie) and planting Cabernet in Northern China is not where it's at. As you well know, I have dreams, orgasmic wet dreams, of when the NapaVlly is carpeted w/ Ribolla vnyds!!! wine blogging is not dead. It'll reach its own equilibrium eventually.Re: TN: Edmeades Zin CiapusciVnyd '82...(short/boring)



by Charlie Olken
Posted on:12/11/2013 11:12:46 AM

There is nothing wrong with liking the dead. I like newspapers.

The problem with blogging is that it has become repetitive, derivative and unoriginal. That is why the CGCW blog has been reduced to two to three a week and occasionally makes me want to abandon it. 

Regularity is not a virtue when it produces intellectual pablum, and all too often, that is what wine blogging has become. I wrote this entry after reading Steve's interview of his dog and wondering what would happen if I read every blog mentioned in the Wine Biz blog recap page. Turns out that they were mostly not new thinking.

Sure, there are some thoughtful blogs out there. Mike Veseth and Ken Payton (hello) and some others. The Hosemaster and Samantha Sans Dosage (now both also reduced to two or less per week) are certainly different kinds of voices.

So, maybe blogging is not dead, but most of it is not infromative. Frankly, how can it be when it pays zero and therefore gives the author no incentive to engage in real journalism.

Thanks to both of your for commenting.


Takes one to know one
by Thomas Pellechia
Posted on:12/11/2013 1:22:14 PM


I started my blog, vinofictions, when? I can't remember when, but I wrote it for a few years. The original idea for it was to try to debunk myths and offer wine education in the form of conversation and even stories.

It didn't take long for me to realize that I had run out of steam and then I tried to keep it up anyway--until even I grew tired of what I was writing, and so I stopped. At least that's why i think I stopped; never did gain much readership traction, but I think that's because I was too early to get bounces from other bloggers, the way it seems most bloggers survive these days.

Like you, I am from the newspaper/printed magazine world and while I miss the power they once held on passing out information, what I really miss is the fact that that world had gatekeepers like editors, copy editors, fact checkers, et al. so that the writing was engaging. Bloggers do it all--and most do it particulalry badly.

Takes one to know one
by Thomas Pellechia
Posted on:12/11/2013 1:23:36 PM

...a copy editor would have caught my typos.

Know One or No One?
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:12/11/2013 2:00:18 PM

Mr. P.--

Even if your blog had survived, it would have run out of steam, as you confess, and thus it would suffer what most blogs suffer and that is the lack of originality, helpfulness, time for investigation, etc.

Blogs, by their very nature--free and repetitive--run out of steam. It is why so many have reduced their frequency and why some have to have conversations with their dogs. 

The wine biz is not a hot news biz generally, and bloggers rarely report hot news anyhow. The poodles yapping analogy invented by The Hosemaster is not very far from the truth. 

And while I can agree about the "editing" issue, it is not editing that is what has made wine blogs into banal, repetitious wastes of time on all too many occasions.

Clearly not all, of course, but too often. It is also why The Hosemaster, aside from his remarkable talent, has gained traction. It is original. It does say something different. 


The Internet has proven that almost anybody with a brain and a keyboard can put one word after another. But having something to say is not the same as saying something.

On the other hand, the reason why blogging will not die is that anybody with a brain and keyboard too often will put one word after another.

Ummm, sure...
by Stanley
Posted on:12/15/2013 3:33:23 PM

Clearly you haven't seen the popular

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