Friday, March 6, 2009
I read a lot of wine blogs, but with the 2009 American Wine Blog Award finalists and winners announced this past week, I thought to take stock of the information sources I follow that have the highest batting average (ie, the percentage of information they put out there that I read).
I'm not a big fan of blog rolls- the massive alphabetical lists of links that you sometimes see on the right hand side of blogs. I do appreciate it when people include me on their lists, but the reason I'm not a fan is that they often lack context as to why each of the blogs listed should be considered for further exploration. A little bit of editorial commentary- even a word or two can help me decide whether I should act upon a recommendation and without that my eyes just quickly scan the list and I move on.
I really hope the blog awards raise awareness of folks who are doing a good job more than they to irk those who were overlooked. Awards can sometimes annoy as much as they motivate unfortunately. Identifying the "best" blogs is a bit of a ridiculous exercise anyway because we're all looking for something different when it comes to wine information. That said, it is interesting to compare notes to see which blogging styles are the most popular.
The Internet is a huge place and the thing I like about it is that anybody can give it a go. If you're good, people will notice and you'll build up a following. And just because a blog wasn't mentioned in these awards doesn't mean they're not good. Far from it- the thing I find amazing in wine blogging is the diversity of viewpoints and ways that people go about it. No two are alike!
I took note of two new ones that weren't on my radar screen:
- Wicker Parker
A quick look at Wicker Parker makes me think that I'm going to be interested in future updates. One thing that I debate myself when I'm writing here on the WWP is "keeping it postitive" vs. "the importance of a negative review". Have a look at this entry on Wicker Parker to see an example of a very negative mention of a specific wine by name (see the last paragraph).
While the tone of the statement may be a cutting, I do find that I gravitate to writers who include a balance of positive and negative reviews. Everything can't be great, and as much as it might hurt some feelings of ruffle some feathers I find it refreshing when people call it like it is in a responsible way.
- Bigger Than Your Head
I love the images on the top of the front page of Bigger Than Your Head. It paints a unique picture of a thoughtful dude sitting around and thinking and writing about wine. I think (hope?) that captures the tone of the blog. Very well done- draws me right in. We'll see whether the content aligns with my perception over time.
- 1 Wine Dude
There's *lots* of people playing the "keep wine simple" card out there, but 1 Wine Dude succeeds because he leverages his credentialed wine knowledge and relates wine to his adjacent interests like movies and music. I see a similarity in the way he approaches blogging and the way Gary Vaynerchuck does on Wine Library TV (which must have been excluded for voting, else it surely would have smothered the competition with its sheer name recognition, not to mention the quality of WLTV content).
Wine education can be quite dry and boring, even to someone like myself who is very interested in learning more. Guys like 1WineDude and Gary do a great job of keeping it interesting by telling stories and presenting wine information in the context of other subjects people can more readily relate to. I think this post is a good example of 1WineDude's writing style.
- Steve Heimoff
Wine Enthusiast Editor Steve Heimoff's wine blog. He's amazingly forthright and direct in his writing style, and I'm frequently awed by his wisdom. This entry about blind tasting is a good example of Steve's style.
- The Passionate Foodie
The Passionate Foodie is a Boston area food and wine blog that I find very useful. And when it comes to online reading "useful" trumps "interesting" every time. It's been useful to me for the number of local wine events I've heard about, as well as information that's been helpful in my blogging efforts here on the WWP. An example of one such event is the upcoming Hirsch Wine Dinner at Upstairs on the Square.
- Wine Spectator Blogs
The Wine Spectator Blogs are some of the best on the Internet. Unfortunately, you need to have a Wine Spectator Online subscription to read them. The Wine Spectator editors are the best I've seen at being educational without talking down to the reader. They have a way of including a quick blurb of information at the beginning of the story that helps everybody understand the following discussion better. I see that important technique leveraged on stories on NPR too, and it's something I try to include in my writing as well.
- Jason's Wine Blog
Blogger burnout is a common pheonomenon. People just get tired of it after a while and new people step up to fill the void. Jason's Wine Blog has taken on the important task of sticking his neck out with reviews of (mostly affordble) wines currently available at Trader Joe's (and elsewhere). What could be more useful than concise lists of the best wines for sale at TJ's? Read more from Jason in his guest post here on the WWP: Is Trader Joe's a Good Place To Buy Wine?
- The finalists used a mixture of WordPress, TypePad and Blogger as their blogging platforms. A lot of people make a big deal out of self-hosted WordPress, but for me the fact that these blogs made the finals proves that platform doesn't matter anywhere near as much as content and aesthetics. You can read more on my thoughts on this subject here.
- It's very interesting to me to see the lines being blurred between print and online content. More on that in a future entry.