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Friday, November 30, 2012

Scaling Back

I’ve been hearing for some time now that wine blogs are, as a whole, losing energy and becoming less popular.  I think that can be for any number of reasons, but whatever the reasons are, it seems to be true.

I’ve had some interesting observations regarding my own blog - most of my posts with the highest number of hits are among the most off-beat wine topics I’ve come up with, including Vranac from Montenegro, and a few Croatian wines.  To me, that’s a little peculiar.  I do understand that perhaps readers are led to those particular blog posts from Google because no one else has covered some of the topics I’ve covered, or at least not recently.

Then there have been other blog posts that have garnered a lot of attention, but not for the tasting notes or the seriousness of wine topics - no, especially in the case of one of my most popular posts this year, on what some of my wine friends began calling the “Nebbiolo man” - this was a blog post about the allure of men who age gracefully and comparing them to Nebbiolo based wines.  That post was meant just for fun, and the vast majority of my other posts were meant to be taken more seriously.  And instead, I drew some attention (and made some mischief) with a blog post centered more on men than on wine.

The somewhat broad topic that I’ve chosen to focus on is off-beat wines and the benefits of experimenting with them.  Many of the off-beat wines I’ve focused on are from Sud-Ouest, or South West France.  As I’ve explained in the blog on numerous occasions, I fell in love with the mysterious, terroir-driven, unique wines of Sud-Ouest after attending a master class with the Guild of Sommeliers last year, and being exposed to wines that would change the way I viewed wine ever since.  Other off-beat wines I’ve given attention to include wines from Savoie, Burgenland, Montenegro, Croatia, Campagna, and Valle d’Aosta, to name a few.  I’ve received a lot of questions as to why I prefer those wines.  Truth be told, I still have an affinity for good Bordeaux, like so many other wine drinkers.  And I love a good Rhone or Burgundy.  And I really love the wines of Piemonte.  My taste isn’t quite so strange as some may think.  But like I’ve explained before, it would be ridiculous to expect some of the native grapes in places like Irouleguy, Sicily, Wagram, Priorat, etc., to be produced here in the United States.  I prefer hunting down these wines and experiencing their uniqueness and expression of identity when they’re produced in their place of origin.  It’s a great way to learn, it’s fun, and it serves as a constant reminder what a tremendous place the wine world really is, and that the more we learn, the more we realize we still have yet to learn.  If I thought there was anything finite about wine, I’d lose some interest in it.  But knowing how much is left to explore, how much history there is to uncover, and how many new developments there will be - well, that makes it all the more irresistible to me.

Anyone who has been reading my blog since the beginning might recall why I started the wine blog.  I once had a friend that I met through a wine discussion on the internet.  He and I began our friendship and over time, and exchanged a lot of wine notes and observations.  When our friendship came to an abrupt end, it felt strange to me that I had no one to share my wine observations with, so I thought about simply posting it all to Facebook.  But then I decided to share them with whomever cared to read them, so that’s why I started my blog.  This January will mark 2 years since I started the blog.  I’ve learned so much in that amount of time.  In fact, I can hardly believe how much I’ve learned, and how quickly, and the changes it’s brought to my life.  I’ve since entered the wine industry, met some fascinating people, and interestingly enough, learned a great deal about myself.  If that sounds crazy, think of this - I started a wine blog to share my observations with like-minded people who love wine.  Since then, I changed careers, developed new friendships, and I’m learning what it is that I love.  Yes, I’ve been learning a great deal about myself.  5 or 10 years ago, I never would have predicted that this would be my current path.

Since entering the industry and meeting so many people who share my views and also having the chance to learn from each other, my real life interactions have replaced what was at one point exclusively online interaction regarding wine.  I’ve also noticed that while I’ve helped some people find new favorites in the wine world, and shed some light on different things to consider, I’ve realized that some minds are too shuttered or narrow and closed off from new ideas (or old ideas that never crossed that threshold of a person’s mind), and I’ve learned that it’s nearly impossible to have any effect whatsoever on a mind or palate so immovable.  And it’s exasperating to try and convince someone that it’s probably worth it to spend less on better quality wines than on mass produced wines that command prices higher than they should, only to be told that they think I’m wrong, or just looking for off-beat wines for the sake of being different.  And it’s also frustrating to have to explain very basic, fundamental things over and over, knowing that it’s not being heard and digested.  It’s also frustrating and annoying to have to defend my strong preference for wines produced as they were intended and have been grown, harvested, and produced for centuries - simply because my preference lies with tiny vineyards and producers in Europe, instead of Long Island, New York, United States, etc.  I like a lot of the people involved with the Long Island wine industry and in fact I have some favorite wines from Long Island (you can find them in this blog), and so I tend to keep most of my opinions to myself about what I really think of a lot of the wines produced here on the Island.  Meanwhile, I go along spending a lot less for wines that tell me a great deal about themselves, and transport me to a new place every evening when I open a bottle.  For me to feel the need to defend this concept, day in and day out, is more than just annoying and frustrating.  I’m proud to pour regular tastings in a wine boutique that focuses on both traditional and off-beat wines that are focused more on quality than on name but are predominantly from Europe, and I’m proud to represent a book that is 100% European and 100% quality driven.  Every time I go into another wine shop or restaurant with the book and the wines I represent, I’m enthusiastic and confident in them.

What I’m trying to say is, I think my blog has served to teach me a great deal over the past 2 years, but I’m not so sure I got through to anyone about a whole lot.  I’m beginning to feel that a lot of it falls on deaf ears, and the rest is just repetition to those who already agree and share my beliefs.  For those reasons, I’ve decided to scale back on the blog posts, and after the new year begins, marking 2 years of blogging, I’ll be writing only when I feel so inspired.


  1. Hey Jac, I understand exactly where you are coming from. That said, I also thoroughly enjoy your work and talent for exposing the less 'popular' regions and varieties. Blogging is a thankless platform in my opinion. Understand that a very small percentage of the population thinks on the level required to digest this degree of dedication. We are speaking to the minority of drinkers... But there are people who listen with anticipation each time you speak. I am one of them.

  2. Tyler, I just saw your comment, thanks for the words of encouragement! (And your blog is one of the only ones I still read regularly due to the great content - I find there is ALWAYS something new to learn with North of 9.)