“Back in the day” (pre social media), the following four … Parker, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Tanzer … along with Charlie Olken ruled wine with an iron fist. And, they still do, boys and girls.
This are just my observances from 20+ years of experiences, while being on the inside of the wine world. I don’t have a fancy masters degree in it all, nor am I a Master Sommelier. I just have 60 units devoted to wine sales and marketing, and focusing my brands on Parker, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, and Tanzer’s influences, as well as Charlie Olken’s Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine. So, it’s just humble opinion and experiences that have driven this observation over the course of the years. Many a blogger is going to take this as an insult, I’m sure. We’d all like to think that we’re playing a major role in changing the course of the wine world. (Remember, bloggers, I’m one of you, too.)
The truth is that each generation is going to change the world, and they do… ultimately. It’s not done overnight, however, as this new generation of wine writers quickly proclaimed, when they hit the Internet running about nine to 10 years ago.
Take this example from Total Wines & More Website:
- Australian Wine Showcase (2)
- Beverage Dynamics (31)
- Beverage Tasting Institute (4)
- Burghound (51)
- Connoisseurs’ Guide (3)
- Decanter (7)
- Int’l Wine Cellar (155) – Stephen Tanzer
- Int’l Wine Review (1)
- James Halliday (13)
- James Suckling (91)
- Tastings.Com (1)
- The Tasting Panel (9)
- Wine & Spirits (60)
- Wine Advocate (777) – Robert Parker
- Wine Enthusiast (399)
- Wine Journal (7)
- Wine News (2)
- Wine Spectator (619)
- Antonio Galloni (8)
When you look at the list above, for what this retailer believes are the influencers, there are no wine bloggers. There are only magazines and established journalists (who might have also left their magazines to start their own companies). While blogging and social media may move people to want to try a wine, and perhaps even buy a wine that’s been mentioned, internally… to influence a retailer, bloggers still have a long way to go.
I realize, too, that many of the new generation are writing from their hearts, leaving the journalistic practices behind. Some have taken to writing about wine in metaphors. I do that myself, too, because I’m not a wine critic. I believe it’s the ones who are the true wine critics who will rise to fame more quickly… Example of this are James Suckling and Antonio Galloni. The latter two were working with major names and decided to become independent:
- Suckling was working with Wine Spectator. Today his Website is simply called James Suckling. A brilliant idea, just telling it like it is. It will be a great challenge, however, to ever sell his site; because, after he’s done, it will never be the same without him. (It would be very good for him to subtitle it now, for a future investment, taking a cue from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate).
- Antonio was working with Parker. Today he’s got his own Website called Vinous. Notice he’s made it to the list above at Total Wines and More. His dedication to being a journalist with wine is cementing his future as a major player.
I can think of a few people who, with their wine credentials, if they headed in this direction of wine journalism (instead of writing in metaphors) would fast track themselves into the next list published in a few years; and I hope they do. A bit of conforming will better serve them … In fact, when I think of where I was at their age, it wasn’t until I made some compromises and conformed that I began to flourish in the wine world. We do all eventually grow up, only reading Peter Pan to our children.
UPDATE: From Clinton Stark on August 10, 2013, who just photographed a Whole Foods blackboard on “What is a 90 Point Wine.” I don’t make this stuff up, kids…. Remember what mom said, “Don’t kill the messenger…”