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If At First You Don’t Succeed, Blog, Blog Again

11 Mar

I am guilty of blog neglect. Maybe you’ve noticed I haven’t posted anything in more than three months. My apologies to anyone who’s visited recently and wondered, “WTF happened to Ms.  Drinkwell? Did she drop off the face of the blogosphere?” Well, yes, but only temporarily.
My neglectful ways are about to change. This is my public declaration that I am picking myself up, dusting myself off, and getting back on the horse to give it another go.
Ms. Drinkwell is officially back in the saddle again.

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Read ‘Em And Drink: Posts of the Week

30 Oct

In case you missed them, a handful of my favorite drinks posts from this week.

First Growth by the Flight – A tasting bar that serves first growths? Yes, please!  According to Decanter.com it’s now possible to sample Margaux, Lafite, Cheval Blanc, Ausone and all the other left and right bank heavy hitters (sans Petrus and Le Pin) at the newly opened wine bar/shop hybrid, the Wine Gallery.  Only problem?  It’s in Bordeaux…so you probably won’t be dropping in this weekend, but it’s still kind of awesome.

Fun facts on Fizz — To find out why hangovers from bubbly are so wicked, how many bubbles are really in that bottle of Champers, and the proper way to store your sparklers, scroll about halfway down this post from My Wine Education.

Pink Is the New Red“Is it wrong to drink rosé wine in winter?” is Victoria Moore’s quickly answered (in the first sentence, no less!) title question in this UK Guardian article after my own heart.  Read this if you’re looking for encouragement to keep slugging the pink stuff even as the mercury drops.

A Blogger Promotes..a Wine Magazine?  After all the blogs vs. traditional media brouhaha, it’s refreshing to see the tables turned at Good Grape where this week Jeff Lefevere promoted an honest-to-goodness, hard copy wine magazine called Sommelier Journal, written by wine professionals for wine professionals.  Sounds pretty interesting…

We Love Millenials, Really! – Over at Palate Press, Beth Elderkin exposes the wine world’s dirty little secret, ageism against young wine drinkers, in her article “Too Young For Wine?”  It’s an enlightening read, especially given the number of studies and articles published in the mainstream press touting Millenials as the future of the wine business.

Fight Less. Write More.

15 Sep

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Last night, I read Jeff Lefevere’s blog post entitled “Who Is In Judgment of Whom,” which offered up yet another installment of the wine blogger vs. established wine writer debate.  This is by no means the first such article I have read on this topic.  It just happens to be the one that pushed me over the edge.  Perhaps it was the trifecta of war references — foxholes, Al Qaeda, Weapons of Mass Destruction — that Mr. Lefevere laced into his article as a means of describing how old guard writers think and feel about their blogger counterparts.  (Dramatic much?)  Or, maybe it was that Mr. Lefevere, with apparent sincerity, wrote, “I really have no idea what gives [Matt] Kramer and the rest of them any more individual credibility then Joe Blogger down the street…” Yeah, that was probably what did it.

To say that Matt Kramer has no more credibility than Joe Blogger down the street is an inflammatory statement that serves one purpose above all others — to get Mr. Lefevere’s blog post noticed.  Mr. Kramer has been a full-time wine writer since 1976.  A full-time wine writer who has written for newspapers, magazines, and book publishers.  One who has researched and written and subsequently had his work edited and fact checked hundreds of thousands of times.  It is a humbling process to be edited.  You learn what you didn’t know, what you didn’t explain clearly, and what you just plain screwed up. It is also a process most bloggers, regardless of subject matter, do not have to go through.  Blogging is quite the self-indulgent endeavor, allowing as it does for Joe Blogger to put any thought or “fact” he wishes to share out into the universe immediately, without so much as a second glance or a spellcheck.  Simply by virtue of the fact that Mr. Kramer has subjected his wine writing to an editing process for 30+ years gives him more credibility in my book than the vast majority of bloggers, myself included.  He also happens to be a very, very good writer, period.  To me, that’s what matters most.

There are points in Mr. Lefevere’s article that I agree with.  Specifically, point number one in the enumerated list section.  I also agree with the first sentence of point number two.  I agree with the larger theme put forth in this article and others that print journalism is, sadly, a dying art.  I adore print media.  To me, half the satisfaction of reading the day’s news comes from the snap of a turned page and the stain of newsprint on my fingertips, but I accept that I am a member of a dwindling group.  The fact of the matter is that web technology has simply outstripped print in terms of what it can offer with regard to immediacy, access, and multi-dimensional content.  Where it has not completely outstripped traditional media is in the quality of writing it offers.  Yes, Mr. Lefevere is right that there is some “significant quality” out there in wine blog world, but the establishment is also correct in its assertion.  There’s a lot of crap, too.

It seems to me that the whole blogger vs. establishment argument is recycled again and again primarily because controversy creates interest and interest drives readership, and hits, and page views.  Many of the articles on this topic are the equivalent of a child throwing a tantrum to get attention.  They have nothing to do with advancing the quality of wine writing (whether in print or online) and everything to do with getting a blogger/writer noticed.  It is sad that what we all have in common, a love of wine and of expression, is increasingly buried beneath a cacophony of infighting in the form of articles aimed at tearing down members of the wine writing community with whom we have differences of opinion.  It’s sad that Mr. Kramer, someone with 30+ years of experience, someone who helped lay the foundation on which we all blog, has been reduced in Mr. Lefevere’s post to the same level as any Joe Blogger, as if all of his years of research, training, learning, and writing are meaningless.  And why?  Because he wrote a column for Wine Spectator challenging all of us who think we want to be wine writers to research, read, edit, develop our expertise, and generally push ourselves to be better.  The audacity!

Here’s a thought:  instead of writing posts demanding respect for your blog from old guard writers, put your head down and write.  About wine.  And, aim to do it better than you did the day before.  That’s the way you earn credibility.

Twitter Me This…Drink Drank Drunk

3 Sep

2667492640_02035c2a78_mIt’s amazing what you find simply by typing the word “drunk” into Twitter’s search box.

@khartig Will Resveratrol Let You Live Forever? http://bit.ly/pPqcC (via @singularityhub) Probably not but you can get drunk on red wine trying.

@shawnadelmuerte Decided I was all for vodka before 8am yoga. Now I’m all for more vodka before trig. But I’m not an alcoholic; Mary Ann is drunk, too.

@asianjohnrules that’s 2 for 2 on getting home drunk and making a huge salad. awesome.

@ExurbanJon Next study:”Is the Pope Catholic?” RT @Heminator Yr tax $ at work: College Students Get More Drunk When Drinks Are Cheap http://bit.ly/KOjNQ

@iansaysnothing Fact error: apparently I wasnt the last person here two days ago. its hard to keep these things straight when you come to work drunk.

@SultansofSwag BACON FLAVOURED VODKA? I MUST BE DRUNK! http://bit.ly/1xpscd

And the obvious….

@slomooo im gona be drunk this whole weekend #festa

Ms. Drinkwell’s Top 5 – California Wine Edition

1 Sep

i heart wineIn honor of California Wine Month, I’ve put together a short list of some of my favorites, recent and perennial:

Best Chardonnay with the Worst Name
2007 Wind Gap Chardonnay Brousseau Vineyard

There’s a nice story on the Wind Gap website about how the vineyards are planted along wind gaps and how the wind shapes the flavors of the wines, and I’m sure this is all true, but the name is just plain bad.  However, the wine is so good that I developed temporary aphasia upon tasting it.  So what’s it like?  Marilyn Monroe in a bikini –voluptuously built with each curve counterbalanced by acidity so racy it’s practically electric.  And, there’s so much minerality in each sip, it’s like there’s a quarry in the glass.  In my opinion, no Cali Chard has ever tasted as Chablisienne as this one while still managing to capture essence of opulent California style.  

Best Version of a Variety No American Can Pronounce 
2007 La Clarine Farm Mourvèdre Cedarville Vineyard

It’s awkward that I never know how to say the name of this grape correctly (moor – ved, or  moor – ved – druh?).  No matter, I’ll just call La Clarine’s version good stuff.  It reminds me of a solid French country wine — not too fancy, not too polished, not too expensive — and best of all, not too over the top.  The kind of wine you keep reaching for again and again with pleasure.  It’s a much leaner rendition than you might expect coming from this notoriously hearty, big boned variety, and that’s probably why I like it so well.  It checks all the right boxes: violets, leather, dusty blackberry, savory spice, but it’s not heavy handed.  Rather, it’s like the fresh faced girl next door — pretty in its youth without a trace of makeup.

Best New Zin that Could Give Ridge a Run for Its Money
2005 Hunnicutt Zinfandel Napa Valley, Chiles Valley District

I’ll admit to being biased against Napa Valley Zinfandel.  For me, it just doesn’t possess the nuance or subtelty that can be achieved with a well made version from Dry Creek or Russian River Valley.  So when I bounded into work on a recent day to be met by a rep with a lineup which included Hunnicutt’s Napa Valley Zin, I felt pretty confident that an underwhelming tasting was to follow.  Ah, hubris!  I was wrong, of course, which is the great thing about great wine.  It kicks your ass back into line  in the most delicious way, which is exactly what  Hunnicutt did for me with its rose petal, bing cherry, and pink peppercorn potion.  It’s delicate without sacrificing lush texture or lusty fruit.  Quite the impressive balancing act.

Best and Most Thoughtful California Wine Blog
Tom Wark’s Fermentation:  The Daily Wine Blog

OK, OK so Tom Wark doesn’t write exclusively about California wine, but he’s located in California and his “day job” as I understand it is in Public Relations where he is responsible for promoting many California wineries large and small. If you’re not reading Tom Wark’s blog, you should be. Why? In addition to being a dependable (he really does blog everyday!) and articulate voice, Mr. Wark is honest and self-reflective in his posts.  He’s continually striving for ways to connect wine to themes larger than himself, and he won’t sacrifice this aim to cover the hot new trend simply because it’s timely.  This blog — unlike so many others — isn’t gimmicky; it doesn’t exist to gossip or break news.  Rather, it’s a meditation which if you let it, just might teach you something about yourself.  Fermentation is exceptional because its author is at once true to his subject and to us.
I think I want to be Tom Wark when I grow up.

Best Crazy Genius California Winemaker/Marketer
Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon

Clearly this is not breaking news.  Randall Grahm has been making and marketing wine since I was in grade school.  I will forget for a moment that the Bonny Doon website makes me a little queasy with all of its spinning, and that I once submitted my resume for an open position and never received a response.  Anyone who has the balls to sell off two of the most profitable divisions of his company in order to concentrate on producing bizarro biodynamic wines using grapes most California wine drinkers have never heard of (Erbaluce? Albariño? Nebbiolo? Dolcetto?) is impressive (and borderline insane) enough.  But, to sell those wines, lots of them, and make customers fall in love with them (and him) is unthinkable for anyone except Randall Grahm.  Combine with this a recent appearance on Oprah and a forthcoming book and there’s no single person out there who’s doing more to promote California wine than this guy.  Yeah, I know it’s been said before, but the truth is always worth restating.

Want to add to my list?  Bring it on in the comments!