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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wine Critic or Wine Writer?

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not is the illusion of knowledge" ~Stephen Hawkins

Well, well welcome to the brave new world of 2013, I hope everyone had a brilliant holiday season and are now ready to face the New Year. With all the new hopes, dreams and aspirations, whatever they may be and where ever they may take you, I wish you all a prosperous New Year.

Opening my twitter account today; really for first time since the beginning of the New Year, I came upon a conversation via #sommchat [which you should read]with the well-known NYT Wine Critic Eric Asimov. I missed the opportunity to interact in the conversation, but was still able to take a look at how it unfolded.

Here's one of the more interesting exchanges I saw today, Megmaker asked via Twitter, "Do you prefer to be called a "wine writer" or a "wine critic and why? Mr. Asimov's reply, "Honestly don't care. Way too much energy spent on that question. Critic has specific NYT meaning, so am proud of title"

Wine Critic or Wine Writer hmm, it’s a good question, but to be honest not one I think about too often. I just don't take myself all too serious and neither should you. I write from my heart, I use my instincts and couple those insights with my experience, to give what I think are solid, fact based recommendations. The only real caveat here is; you need to have a similar palate to my own. I tend to follow reviewers advice who I've tasted with before, compared notes and found we tend to like similar styles of wine. That said, if you read this blog, you would do well to do the same.

There was another comment in that same thread which stated [not sure who it was attributable to] "Writer" connotes a more open mind and palate, which I believe is essential to conveying passion". A statement to which finds me nodding in complete agreement. Take a look at my new logo for example, the one on my twitter profile [and biz-cards], you'll see it says 'wine-writer'. After all I do write and it's about wine, what else should the title be? I think it is sufficient, after all this is just a hobby.
But in reading this blog, you will come to one immediate conclusion; I'm NOT a classically trained writer by any stretch of the imagination. So for the purist out there, this blog is NOT for you. But if you want the scoop, on what I think are some the best wines available today, please stay tuned, you'll be glad you did. Has my blog become more readable than it was it 2008, well I'll let my stats do the talking for me, you can find them just to the right and below if you're truly interested.
Here was another question ask by Megmaker, "Please say more about your view of wine tasting notes, and how best to achieve "context-sensitive" wine writing" and Eric Asimov's answer, "Hard to account for context in notes. I think general stylistic characteristics are better than overly precise".

Again, here I find myself in agreement with Mr. Asimov's point regarding wine writing in general. I think some folks try way too hard to impress others with their wine-knowledge [aka, geekiness] and end up coming off as the garden variety snob. Honestly folks, who even thinks of things like "context-sensitive" wine writing? I had to chuckle a bit to myself seeing that and winced a bit reading it, breathing an "oh-brother" out loud.

C'mon folks let us all just get over ourselves, write about what you are passionate about [whether it's wine or Frisbees] and keep writing to improve how you communicate about that passion. And like Mr.Asimov tweeted today; "Write, write, write! If you want to be a writer, that's what you must do, regardless of pay". And to that I say a hearty amen brother! I know my writing in November and December has been far less productive than normal, but look for it to return in the coming months.

For me personally, I'm more of a spectator. I seldom get my hands dirty [little grape picking], on my journey of wine discovery, oh perhaps the splash back from the spit bucket and the occasional sporting of the glaring purple grin now and then. But there's no actual sweat on my brow, as I bang on the keyboard. So whether you think me a wine writer, critic or just the garden variety run of the mill opinionated vino-sapien, my only goal is the help you drink better and for a whole lot less when possible.

With that said, there are going to be some changes this year regarding my wine-blog. Number one, I will no longer accept samples for review; I'm done with that scene [If a wine was submitted for review last year, there's still a review pending]. Number two, I will no longer accept advertising of any kind, I'm done with that scene as well. And number three, look to see some [not saying how many] tweet-up events that will not be sponsored by anyone, but perhaps hosted by a San Diego group who will remain nameless for the moment.

My blog will be one of the very few which will be completely 'independent' and that my fellow vino-sapiens is really something to think about, as we move forward. So until next time remember life is too short to drink bad wine and too short to drink wines with no real sense of place. Just say to no to "Cheap, Homogenized, Lifeless Commodities" found on the bottom shelves of places like your local wally-world. Instead say yes, to exploring and keeping an open-mind, open heart and above all an open-palate, there's a world of wine waiting for you to explore, so get busy and as always remember to slurp long and prosper cheers!
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Renee Keele said...

Way to go Bill! Love what you said and could not agree more! It should be a passion and not a chore, because that shows in the writing. Love what your new plans for the blog! Brave man, but sooo what wine blogs need to be about. Cheers!

thedrunkencyclist said...

Great post! As for the sample thing, why not just take the stand that you will review and write about everything--even if the wine stinks? Don't our readers deserve to know which wines to avoid as well as which ones to seek out?

Bill Eyer said...

Hi Renee,

Thanks, and you're so right. Writing about wine or any other topic should be a passion, once it becomes a chore, then what's the point really?

Thanks for all the support, no easy decision [no more samples], but it's one I've been thinking about for a very long time and I really feel this is the right move for me.

I hope the New Year is treating you right, cheers!

Bill Eyer said...

Drunken Cyclist,

First thanks for being a regular reader, it was great meeting you at the WBC12 this past year, I also do enjoy your blog, kudos to the work you do there and Happy New Year to you and yours.

That said, I'm not sure you understand that writing about every single sample I get would be an impossible task for me. During the months of July, August and September, I received what amounted to 4 cases of wine [samples], with requests asking me to review even more.

This is a one man operation and it’s not my full-time job; this is just an enjoyable hobby for me. Seeing I have no prospects of becoming a full-time wine-journalist any time soon, it’s time to dial this blog down a notch. The meaning for me is simple, no more samples. It’s time to free my blog to pursue other areas of interest.

But again to your point, not even the major publications write about every single wine received as a sample. I’m not sure where this pie-in-the-sky idea comes from in the first place; about reviewing every single sample that comes in a bloggers door, that idea is fanciful at best. But, perhaps [with your own blog] you’re able to, if so, kudos.

If you've been reading this blog, you know I'm really not into dogging wines that "stink" but I have often done so, when I felt it was needed to be pointed out.

It’s my opinion, but by NOT receiving samples, it frees me to pursue other areas of wine exploration, unhindered by PR groups attempting to use blogs as platforms for their clients.

I can now have complete autonomy to post what I want, when I want and as much as or little as I want. I will be one of the few blogs out there in the blogosphere which is not beholden to a PR group’s agenda. For me this freedom and I won't be looking back!


thedrunkencyclist said...

Like Renee said, truly admirable! I look forward to reading and seeing where the blog takes you! Hopefully we will meet up again at another WBC--if not, be sure to let me know when you are on the East Coast and we will pull a few corks!

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