Today I had the wonderful good fortune to be invited to lunch by some folks from Swanson winery in Napa, California. Unfortunately for me, the winery is in Napa, the lunch was not.
If, like me, you are a child of the 70’s the name should sound familiar to you. Yes, it is the very same folks that brought us those silver trays with semi-identifiable meat covered in delectable gravy that always escaped onto the spectacular appley dessert. That has absolutely nothing to do with their wine, but for some reason it makes me smile.
Swanson wines are about as far removed from those TV dinners as Johnny Depp from Sweeny Todd is from his Breakfast Club coiffed character on 21 Jump Street. Sometimes folks outgrow our memories, deal with it. I did love those spiced apples, though.
Last week I received an e-mail from the marketing department of Swanson Wines asking me if I would like to attend a lunch in honor of the launch of their new label and the release of some of their wines. They had the decency to ask if this violated my editorial policies. This confused me to no end, until I realized that they were assuming that I had editorial policies. To get this out of the way, let me just state that I am a sucker for “free.” They say that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and that may be true, but I am perfectly willing to pretend that there is.
If someone wants to send me free wine, buy me lunch, send me a DVD, all of which have happened since launching this blog, I am more than happy to accept. If that makes me a wine whore, so be it. I did not attend journalism school and, deep down, I am still just a kid from the streets of Toledo. I love free. That doesn’t mean that giving me free stuff guarantees a good write-up. In fact, of the freebies that I have received, this is the first one that has gotten a write-up at all.
I do not claim to be a serious journalist, nor is integrity my claim to fame. Other than a very small handful of individuals, there aren’t many journalists, particularly with integrity, left anyway. However, while my attention can be purchased, my opinion is not for sale…at least not for any reasonable rate.
Many of my colleagues in the wine blogging world take pride in the fact that they do not accept any samples, or attend any promotional events paid for by wineries or wine distributors. While I get where they are coming from, I don’t believe that, for myself at least, drinking something that I haven’t paid market price for compromises my opinion.
I will concede that my opinion can be swayed by good food and good company. But what I write about is subjective anyway. The same is true for any food and wine writer, or anyone who puts their opinion in print. If a reviewer for Wine Spectator gets up one morning and finds out that his wife has been cheating on him with the pool guy, you can bet that 98 point Cab is going to be an 86 on that day.
In the next week or so I will be discussing the wines that I had at the Swanson lunch. I will tell you ahead of time that I had a lot of fun, the folks from Swanson were very nice to me, and they bought me a really nice lunch with as much of their wine as I cared to drink. The articles will be as honest as any other that I have ever written, but I want you to know that my access, if not my opinion, was bought and paid for.
I hope my readers are okay with that. I am.