Generally I am interested, and at times amused by the discourse, and I hope this has been conveyed to some extent in the non-wine review posts on RedtoBrown (by both Red and I). If you want to read a constructive, well-written article on this topic, particularly from the perspective of what I would term a 'professional-standard' wine blogger, I would strongly recommend "Should Blogging Get a Flogging" by Patrick Haddock (aka ‘WiningPom’ on Twitter). The post below is a slightly abstract ‘interpretation’ of the discourse mentioned above with an intentional focus on the amateur, or "amateur but hoping, wishing for professional status" wine blogs.
The Amateur Wine Blogging Community - The Big Karoake Bar in the Virtual Sky?
On many levels, writing about wine online is a bit like singing at a Karaoke bar. It is easier to sing the songs when everyone else is joining in on the action, but when you are forced to sing solo, some songbirds fly the coop. This is often the case if you are in a room of close friends or complete strangers. For one reason or another not everyone is prepared to sing at the top of their lungs in this situation out of embarrassment or a desire to avoid being ridiculed.
|"Islands in the stream, that is what we are"|
Only the most deluded of both groups would maintain their output is first class every time– and if it is, they are in the minority. For many, many more people, wine blogs range from being a fleeting hobby to a long term (if part-time) passion to which considerable spare moments are allocated. At both extremes, only the most desperate or deluded are thinking they ‘coulda been contenders’ On the Waterfront style if they havent taken concrete steps to leap into the wine writing world in a serious way yet write as if they expect to receive the same kudos as wine writers (paid and unpaid) who have.
In many ways, the contestants on Masterchef mirror this point: if they were serious about cooking they would have undertaken an apprenticeship years ago instead of trying to break into the food industry soley off the back of Masterchef. The same applies to the wine blogger who makes no moves to work at vintage or gain wine qualifications yet still harbours the desire to break into the wine world.
|"I coulda been a contender, I coulda been a paid wine writer.|
I coulda produced wine promo vids like James Suckling.
Now I am a wine blogging nobody, a bum.
Do you have a dime? I need to pay my monthly internet bill"
Unlike Karaoke, wine writers and commentators are not forced to read an amateur wine blog. If you are stuck in the bistro of the local RSL or inner city pub and the Karaoke competition fires up, said punter can leave the venue or willingly endure the noise until you finish your chicken parmigiana. With a wine blog, if you are a wine connoisseur, a Master of Wine, a paid wine writer etc and accidently stumble on a poorly written example, you are one click away from safety. I cannot stress this point enough - it seems in many cases, the critics of wine blogs rarely read them (for clearly stated reasons based on the perceived quality of the content) yet also seemingly do not want them to exist in the first place either.
|Kenny sings on Wine Blogging: "You gotta know when to hold'em, |
know when to fold'em, know when to walk away, and know when to click that mouse and
switch to a paid wine website instead".
The motivations for this form of ‘wine writing consolidation advocacy’ are varied, but part of me cannot help but think it is due to the inexorable dilution of the paid wine writers craft – not the democratisation of wine writing per se, but the dilution and diversification of wine writing, wine communication and wine expression that is paradoxically both bad and good for the wine industry.
Just as a pitch-perfect rendition of ‘My heart will go on’ during a Karaoke night will not change the music world one iota (though it might make the night of the Newtown RSL Bingo crew), the writings of an amateur wine blogger will rarely affect the wine industry. The inference that people are starting up wine blogs to match the quality of printed wine publications, receive thousands of free wine samples, make money and make an impact seems to be an assumption made more by the critics than the advocates. A fraction of these outcomes would be ample reward for most wine bloggers who are doing what they do out of a personal passion, not an alterior commercial or narcissistic motive.
|"Aww Hans Blix! How many times do I have to tell you: |
My amateur wine blog will not eat into your Wine Spectator circulation figures!"
In conclusion, will wine blogs take over the wine writing world? Highly unlikely. Will they form an at-times interesting and engaging niche in the wine communication and wine appreciation discourse? They already have, and this is an upwards trend. Will they ever represent the wine equivalent of Gwyneth Paltrow in the movie Duets? If they do, I will not linger long on that wine blog!
Post intended for debate/pondering/instant closing of the Explorer Tab. Thoughts and comments welcome.