Beware of Wine Bloggers!

asteroidSteve Heimoff knows a lot about wine, and he is a pretty decent writer. So, when he warns us about a new threat to the wine community we should heed his words. Here are the aforementioned words of wisdom and warning:

The worst thing a wine blog can do is to shill, however inadvertantly, for a winery or region. The minute I read about someone’s “delightful” visit to so-and-so, they’ve lost me. Visits may indeed be delightful, but the writer shouldn’t say so, because it just sounds — I don’t know — smarmy and credulous. If the blogger describes the visit as “delightful” then her credibility suffers, in my mind. What if the wines suck? Would the blogger say so? Or is the blogger so delighted with the visit — with the hospitality of the owners, the personally guided tour of the winery and caves, the lovely luncheon by the pool, catered by the winery chef, and with the gorgeous tranquillity of wine country — that he’s unable even to know that the wine is mediocre?

Wine bloggers, unlike “real” writers like our friend Steve, are not to be trusted when they write about wine. Not because they are starting to be offered the same perks as traditional media, but because they ADMIT when they accept them and try to take their readers with them. Shame on them!

Steve does show respect for some bloggers, as evidenced by this sweet little reach-around for blogger/wine marketer, Tom Wark. I guess a guy who represents the wine industry while writing about it is the ideal blogger.

I read a lot of wine blogs. The ones I like tend to be what I think of as more literate, wittier and thoughtful. Also, those written with some particular competence or expertise, whether it’s Tom Wark on the industry at Fermentation to Hosemaster on a rant, or someone telling me something I don’t know about Tuscany or Tasmania.

Personally, since Steve is always either telling people that he is indeed a blogger, or telling other bloggers how they should comport themselves, I was surprised that there was anything he didn’t know about any subject. Perhaps he was only being modest. Let’s hope so, as we need all of the heroes we can get.

Then there is the issue of this infernal Interweb contraption that allows anyone to hang their shingle out and call themselves a blogger an expert.

The problem with this age of the Internet is that everybody feels he can be his own expert. But just because somebody says something doesn’t make it true.

Okay, now you’re getting me where I live, Steve. I am a blogger, not an expert. Perhaps you should admit that you are an expert, not a blogger. Bloggers post links back to other bloggers that they take issue with. Kind of like REAL journalists cite works that they mention in their stories. This allows the reader to see what all of the fuss is while ensuring that the reference is in context and not a distortion. An ethical journalist or blogger would do this as a matter of course.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, Steve Heimoff is just another traditional media type who sees the asteroid bearing down on his world and doesn’t want to be another dead dinosaur, but really isn’t ready to be one of the new unwashed cave dwellers scrabbling for an audience on the Web. Steve is here to set you straight.

I’m not really worried that genuine wine writing is going away, because the cream will always rise to the top. But we — the wine community — do have to be alert to naive bloggers, with potentially sizable readerships, being “useful idiots” for wineries and associations.

I am very thankful that Mr. Heimoff is here to protect you, my potentially sizable readership, from the dangers presented by, well, me. Because apparently bloggers, Steve and few of his buddies excluded, are as Mark Twain (I think) put it, “born ignorant, and losing ground ever since.”

I fully understand that every wine blogger has got to start somewhere, and that is usually from a zero knowledge base. However, if you really want to learn about wine, you need to know what people with more experience and understanding have to say about things, and then go on from there. You can’t just come out with inaccuracies or repeat banalities told to you by a P.R. person.

Steve, you patronizing prick, if you choose to get on the Internet to put your column online so that you can pretend to be part of the new media before your old media gig dries up, have the decency to respect your peers. I know it pains you to consider us as such, but you climbed in our sandbox, not vice versa. Oh, and Steve buddy? Our sandbox comes with a built-in spell checker. Not that I mind typos in the least, but real media types have been known to complain about such things. You might want to be careful if you want to continue attempting to straddle both worlds like the Titan that you are.

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