Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mr. Cranky Pants

“Have you heard about the shit storm that is going on over on the eBob board?” our domestic wine specialist, Bennett asked me the other day. “Um, you know I don’t belong to that board dude” I replied. “Well I know but I thought maybe you would have heard about it, it’s about blogging” he said and plopped down in front of the store computer to send me the link. I went about my daily doings figuring I would get to it when I got a chance but Bennett kept looking at me as if to ask, “have you read it yet” this was clearly something he thought I needed to see, so I got to my laptop and took a peek….

I read the original post, for those of you that don’t know, the jest of the post was that wine bloggers have no credibility because they accept samples, trips, lodging, dinners and stuff like that and while I’m sure that is true for some, it is not true for all…not that I am sure that matters. The whole post reminded me of one of those movies where the “cool kid” feels threatened by the new kid in town, gets all pissy and does all he can to dig up dirt or otherwise make the new kid look foolish, therefore protecting his place as “most popular guy”, it always backfires leaving the swiping, once most popular guy looking like a douche, you know, this thread followed that tried and true script.

I read the whole thing and looked forward to following it for awhile but true to “that” boards form, the thread was locked so no new comments could be posted, sheesh board honchos, undies in a bunch much?! Why not let people talk it out, share their feelings on the issue? Oh, that’s right…it’s the emperor’s house, we wouldn’t want some mouthy kid telling everyone he has no clothes. I found the thread pretty interesting and was sympathetic to both sides but to pinch off the hose of communication like that? Well, it just smacked of imperialism and reminded me of why I would never belong to such a narrow minded board.

I’ve never been a fan of Mr. Parker’s, I think the 100 points scale for wine is not only ridiculous, but it is not at all useful to the consumer and my palate has just never jived with his…I don’t hate him nor would I ever want him banned or denounced, can’t say he feels the same about others in his field. Now it wasn’t Parker that started the thread, (it was however a friend of his) but he did chime in on the issue, and I thought his comments were incendiary, condescending and were reminiscent of our former administration, that “you’re either with us or against us” bullshit. Once he slung the mud by calling bloggers, “blobbers” I just shook my head, and I felt a little pang of “awe, your poor thing” and pictured him waving a big stick while swarms of people with purple stained teeth, armed with laptops descended upon him.

Robert Parker, whether you like his palate or not, is an icon in the world of wine, there are millions of people that love those rich, full wines that he gives high scores to and those that have learned that if Parker gave it a 86 it might be more to their liking, the end result is people buying and enjoying wine, and that is a very good thing for this industry. What I do take issue with is that exclusionary attitude and being dismissive of another way of thinking, I just don’t get it and I don’t think that it will bring new wine drinkers to the table.

There are lots of us that have no use for Parker or grading wines at all for that matter, those of us that want to shed that cloak of snobbery that has for too long been a barrier for new wine drinkers. Those of us that are inspired by those little country wines that never grace that pages of fancy pants wine publications, people that dig wines of place, people that believe there are no “off” vintages, just vintages and rather like seeing what the vines offer even in difficult years… what about us? Are we to just burry our heads in the sand and not share our passion and excitement because we are not, “wine critics”? Well, I for one don’t want to be so “critical” about wine, I’m not here to judge it, I can like it or not, detect if it is flawed or not but I have no right to yuck anyone else’s yum….no one does.

The term, wine critic just seems so asinine to me, a wine specialist I can almost understand, people that have attained a certain level of knowledge about wine, but even they cannot and should not tell people what they should be drinking. Everyone’s palate is different so the idea that there is only one way to make, taste, drink and write about wine is just retarded, ineffective and does nothing to grow this business, it does the opposite actually. I know if I were to only taste the kind of wines that seem to get big scores, well, I would not be a wine drinker and would have never gotten into this business, they just don’t taste good to me….am I flawed or might I just have different taste? I think there is plenty of room for all of us, so I don’t get why Parker and his cronies have to lump us all together and denounce us as irrelevant….I mean, if we were why would they bother saying anything at all…me thinks thou protests too much.

Now to the matter of free junk, and offering high praise to those that give said junk…because you know, a glossy publication would never give high marks to say, someone that does a fair amount of advertising…..who cares? I think most credible bloggers would NOT write a glowing review of a wine they thought was bad, just because it was given to them, they were taken to dinner by the importer or they had a fantastic winery visit, and if they do I think they would lose their readership pretty damn quick, credibility is all we have…shit, most of us are not even getting paid for this, we do it to share our love of wine with others, so why would we lie?! Now if they were to write about the dinners, importers, or winery and the fact that they had an amazing time….well, that’s not “improper” and I find that with wine, the setting is part of the whole experience and where you are and the people you are with can definitely affect how things taste to you, (yet another reason I thinks scores are lame). I don’t see it as a big deal or an issue and if it becomes one for a particular blogger, well then stop reading them, problem solved.

More voices, more flavors, more diversity =’s more people drinking wine and both the retail wine store manager and the passionate wine lover sides of me think that can only be a good thing. So everyone needs to pull their crunders outta their cracks and move on already. You do your thing with your readers and just leave us alone to do our thing with ours, thankfully there is no monopoly on taste.


Nancy Deprez said...

Sigh. Mr. Cranky Pants indeed. I love blogs and all the info I get on restaurants and wines. All lovely.

Samantha Dugan said...

Concur my friend, concur. I love blogs and the blogger community, a bunch of really fun people with enough passion to sit up late at night or early in the morning and share their wine stories. I think those bloated mother f-ers are just trying to poison the waters...hahahaha now I sound paranoid!

Whatever, that will teach me to lurk, (sent a link or not) on that crusty board.

Alfonso Cevola said...

nice cartoon;)

tish said...

Found you via Tom Wark's blog. Really sensible analysis of the eBob mess (call it "Advogate"?). What impresses me about most of the bloggers I have met and/or followed is the natural sincerity. Like you said, "why would I lie?" Keep up the good work.

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