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Wine,Wine Blogger,Wine Writer

Weighing in on the Tanzer Wine Blog “About” Page Debacle

If you don’t know, Stephen Tanzer ~ one of the world’s most well respected wine writers ~ just launched a wine blog called Winophilia.

Unfortunately, he unwittingly did it with his boxing gloves on. I say unwittingly, because he hadn’t yet jumped into the wine blogging pool, so he didn’t know who the swimmers of importance are; nor did he even realize that they do indeed exist, have developed their own personal power, and are also quite astute at reading between the lines.

Here’s what Tanzer wrote on his “About” page, which had him tripping on the way in.

At Winophilia, we’re not armchair tasters who pretend to speak knowledgeably about regions we’ve never visited. We’re not amateur bloggers whose coverage of wine is limited to a handful of random samples we’ve just received, a trade tasting we’ve attended, or a press junket we’ve just been treated to. We live wine. Each of us spends several weeks to several months on the road each year, visiting wineries and tasting thousands of wines annually with their makers. And that’s not even including the thousands of bottles we taste each year in our own dining rooms.

Oh, boy… As I read it, I thought, “What?

Then I thought, “Stephen Tanzer’s pretty funny.”

Evolution does funny things to people.

You also need to know that many bloggers jumped all over this, and Tanzer quickly edited his “About” statement. You won’t find it on his site anymore, because he was “working it out,” and that’s now (thankfully) over.

Somebody once said to me, when I was commenting on someone’s interesting behavior, “We’re all funny, aren’t we?”

What I’m recognizing in Tanzer’s “between the lines” verbiage is that prior to being in the game, he was either very naive about the power that wine bloggers have come to enjoy in their own right and in their own world, or he just didn’t understand the inner workings. I’m thinking that it’s the latter, because he had never been in the deep end of this pool with us before. The rules here are very different from any other pool I’ve ever been in, and cannon balling is not allowed.

The comment, “We’re all funny, aren’t we?” was one of the best and most cleverly disguised piece of advice I’ve ever received.

I had to agree, and continue to… We’re all pretty funny, and we all make mistakes, which is what makes us so funny in the first place. Think of a person tripping; while it’s not necessarily funny at the time for the person tripping, in retrospect, even Stephen Tanzer will see the eventual humor.

The day the Internet went self publishing and interactive with Web 2.0, it launched a whole new set of writers within a nanosecond. They are people who had yet to find an outlet for their work, but they all have the same passion… Writing. Some are very talented, some are pretty creative, and some are for a quick season. It’s all good.

Honestly, I’m one of these bloggers; although, I was published in many places long before I hit the Internet. I just saw the Internet as having the luxury of not waiting for acceptance of a story by an editor, anymore. Secondarily, the money from being a writer was never going to be paying the bills I accumulate, and I knew it. I lack the drive to query editors constantly. That’s too much of a hassle for me. I much prefer writing for clients on a daily basis, and writing on my blog when I feel like it, which is frequently.

The thrill of getting stories that are within me to a place of permanency (the Internet) outside of me was all I ever really wanted or need today. Whatever happens after that is the least of my cares. I’m just taking the opportunity to journal, and the world’s invited. This is how I see my blogging journey.

For others, it’s much deeper.

Now… take those who have been writing for a living; most especially those who have established their own newsletters, like Tanzer, Charlie Olken, Dan Berger, Nicholas Ponomareff, Ronn Wiegand, Gregory S. Walter, etc. (forgive me if I’ve missed you).  Writing has been their livelihood, and will continue to be.

All writers, from the beginning of time, must adapt to the changes of the times, or be left behind as their audience shrinks from natural attrition. Those who are mutable will survive, until the day they die. Those who don’t change, just die a long, slow death.

I was deeply touched by something that Charlie Olken just privately said to me, after I uploaded a wine writer Q&A about him, regarding his current morphing. Charlie’s been around for as long as I have in this business, plus a few more years (while I was in radio). Recently, I’ve been very inspired by what he’s been doing in his own re-invent. He’s taken to commenting with really thought provoking ideas and theories on other bloggers’ Web sites. His positive thinking was what caught my eye. He’s remaining very “now,” for someone with such history and depth. He’s having a brilliant moment, in my estimation. Charlie’s got a lot of class, and is proving it daily. [A great place to find him with a bit of frequency is a place that I also frequent ~ Steve Heimoff’s blog.]

In the morphing lies the challenges, people. Evolution certainly isn’t the “enemy.” Evolution is one’s opportunity for continued growth.

So, while Stephen Tanzer ~ and anyone else who is published and thinking about now joining the blogging community~ realizes there is a community, and you’re going to be the new kid on the block with this one. Play nice, and we’ll share our toys with you.

Web 2.0 is a very transparent place to live, with mistakes surfacing very quickly.

I’m betting that bloggers were thrilled to see that Stephen Tanzer was now one of us… Until one of us read his “about” page… Whoosh… poop hit the fan.

~ ANOTHER THOUGHT ~

Let’s just say, when you piss off Sonadora, you know you’ve gone too far. This was evidenced by her recent departure from discussions about the wine she’s just tasted, to write, I’m Tired of Being Told What Not to Write. Her fans – and she’s got plenty of them – have come to love reading her blog and seeing the signature images of wine bottles with each posting.

She’s right. The Internet has given a lot of people a place to develop their portfolios, while creating a fan base. It’s a great outlet for the creative types in all professions. Curiously, with the Internet, there’s room for everyone.

~If I Were Stephen Tanzer ~

Tripping on the way into the pool, I didn’t see the cord to the Robo-Kleen that is used to keep the pool tidy. Now that I’m aware that it exists, I’d create a blog roll. I’d do this even if I had previously thought, “I’m not going to have a blog roll, because I’m not going to be promoting anyone else.” Now knowing that there’s a fraternity that exists, just for the sake of being on the inside, I’d do it to integrate and ingratiate a lot quicker, after my false start… Just sayin’ after this baptism by fire et al…

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12 Responses to “Weighing in on the Tanzer Wine Blog “About” Page Debacle”

  1. @nectarwine says:

    Jo,

    Nice work on this. You always seem to add some levity and common sense to each situation. I appreciate your positive attitude as well. Cheers and success to you!

    Josh

  2. Jo says:

    Josh,

    Thanks. It took a lot of time writing and thinking it through. Tanzer’s a great guy; and he just didn’t realize that because he’s so well respected, bloggers would be digesting his every word. His statement was his subconscious talking. I have to believe that.

    He apologized – that a very important PR move, because now everyone can just move on. It will also be forgotten within a short amount of time, because it’s been brought to a final head… And it’s now *over* (using Joe Roberts’ *’s).

    I can’t imagine there’s gong to be anyone else out there that’s *ever* going to talk about bloggers not having arrived.

    Bloggers have arrived; otherwise, wineries would *not* be sending samples to them.

    It’s that simple… And, I do find a lot of humor in life (thanks for noticing), because I’m personally so clutsy. I trip (a lot), I laugh (and sometimes cry, when it hurts a lot), and I move on. It’s so much less stress for me to find the humor in life.

    Cheers and continued success to you, too!

  3. 1WineDude says:

    Wait a minute… Tanzer started a blog???

    😉

  4. Jo says:

    Joe,

    Funny…

  5. Sonadora says:

    It’s not too often I get my knickers in a twist. I like living in my own little world of wine reviews and usually let everything else roll off my back!

  6. David Honig says:

    Tanzer made two mistakes. The first was obvious, his attempt to launch himself into the blogosphere off the backs of the bloggers who came before him. He removed it, and that provides at least the appearance that he recognizes the error.

    The second mistake was the cover-up. Within the first few days of blogging he made it clear that he edits comments to remove anything critical or negative. POOF! goes the credibility he spent all those years building.

  7. Jo says:

    Sonadora, I know what you say to be true… which was actually what inspired me to write my opinion on this one.

  8. Jo says:

    David,

    You’re right about the editing part. Again, it’s naivete for what Web 2.0 is all about. Mr. Tanzer is on a huge learning curve, as he’s come to the party fashionably late.

    He’ll catch up, and his (already established) readers think he’s the bomb, already. He’s come with a built-in audience, many of whom may be reading a wine blog (his) for the first time, so they won’t understand what all the hubbub is about.

    I’m afraid he might lose the Millennials, though (his future buyers) unless he adopts a more transparent Web 2.0 attitude, as evidenced by your being really put off, along with others.

    He’s not had to be this exposed in his life, yet…He’s learning, I’m betting. He’ll evolve… We all eventually do.

  9. David Honig says:

    Jo,

    No doubt you’re right. He certainly has the experience and skill to offer the blogosphere quality content, once he learns the ropes.

    One rope he’s going to have to learn quickly comes from the FTC. Do you think he knows that now that he’s a blogger, he has to tell us if he’s tasting free samples?

  10. Jo says:

    David,

    What’s really interesting is that he DOESN’T accept samples; and I say that from a place of experience. As a publicist, I learned a long time ago, “No samples.” The reason is simple. He owns a retail outlet. He’s inundated daily with wine sales people (brokers, wholesalers, winery people out doing “ride withs”).

    These guys all come in with bottles already opened from a previous stop, pour an ounce in a wine glass, he swirls, sniffs, sips, and spits… Then he either buys or not. He may take notes or not, but this is his day job, and tastes thousand upon thousands of wines on a monthly basis.

    This “edge” is what he perceived as more educated, therefore more credible and a more interesting palate. That may, however, not play well with some people. I remember when I first stated tasting wine. I knew that if Parker liked a wine, I wouldn’t. Why? Because his palate is so evolved that he loves big, juicy wines. When I started, I needed a s-l-o-w approach. My palate was overwhelmed with higher alcohol and dense wines.

    We are all on our own path, and that’s why I believe there’s plenty of room on the playing field for everyone. This isn’t a competitive sport we’ll all engaged in (even though lots of people just loves scores).

    We’re more all a part of a Jackson Pollock painting… it appears to be helter-skelter, but in the final observation, it all makes sense.

  11. Leave it to my adopted son, Joe Roberts, to bring a smile to our faces. And thanks, Jo, for the very kind words about my own transitions from staid print journalist to what I expect will become a much more evident online presence as this old dog proves that he can learn new tricks.

    In the next year, I think you will see a new Connoisseurs’ Guide with far more original online content. I hesitate to call our efforts a blog because I am not going to try to compete with the many great writers of opinion and observation. But CGCW will add information about wine and related topics (where to visit, where to eat, who has interesting new blog and print pieces, even who has missed the boat). And, while I can never compete either with the really good wine humorists, I hope to have the occasional fun piece, including one very occasional column I will call “My Running Argument With Dan Berger”, in which I lovingly and only slightly sarcastically pull my good friend’s mustache over his so very strong opinions on everything from adidity to the Los Angeles Dodgers. I am bit surprised he has not published his NCAA basketball brackets yet.

    So, thanks for not calling me on old fuddy duddy. I love this new world of wine writing. It is far more flexible and welcoming than plain old print.

  12. Jo says:

    Charlie,

    I love where CGCW is headed in the next year.

    I also love how you’re morphing, as we all must (wine pun).

    Yes, Joe’s a funny guy…

    I can’t wait to see what you and Dan get going; you’re both such characters.

    Far from a fuddy duddy, Charlie. You’re my contemporary and it is what it is… We have history.

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