Are wine bloggers insecure?
Wait a second... why are you asking? You trying to say I'm not any good?? Who the hell do you think you are, anyway, buck-o!!?!??
Sorry about that. Seems that some topics can touch a bit of a nerve when it comes to blogging - especially wine blogging.
You see, the upside of wine blogging is the total freedom from the aspects that can sometimes hamper more traditional wine media (deadlines, 100 pt rating system, advertising conflicts of interest, editing...).
The downside of wine blogging is the total freedom from the aspects that can sometimes help more traditional wine media (editing, enforcement of quality writing standards, bona-fide wine tasting credentials...).
If you look at some of the topics that wine bloggers have been discussing lately, quite a few of them are in the area of establishing credibility, codes of conduct, and highlighting quality. Here are some examples, and these are just a sprinkling of topics that I found from one source alone!:
A call for wine blogging standards; effect of wine blogs in the real world; questions about the quality, impartiality, and professionalism of bloggers; how to recognize the best in wine blog writing.
After perusing this stuff, I started to wonder why wine bloggers seem so, well, fixated on the topic of credibility. Does the answer to gaining credibility for wine bloggers lie in the quality of our content? Or in gaining real-world wine certifications? In banding together as a community? All of the above?
Or are we running the risk of appearing as if we're just trying to allay our own fears and insecurities because we're not part of the world's "traditional" wine media at the moment - who, let's face it, give us barely a passing mention and more-or-less treat us as a group of well-meaning but ne'er-do-well wannabes? We're kind of like the Canada to their USA; the New Zealand to their Australia; the Wales to the their England.
"Ha ha-ha," they chuckle as they watch us from their desks in their magazine offices, "aren't those wine bloggers so darn cute..."
Just for fun, I decided to post the question to the Wine Bloggers Group over at the Open Wine Consortium. I was so struck by the quality and openness of the answers, that I wanted to highlight some of the responses from other wine bloggers here at 1WineDude.com. They demonstrate a level of maturity, honesty, and grit that I would argue isn't highly valued in more traditional wine media. What they don't demonstrate... is insecurity. Enjoy!...
Mike @ TheNakedVine.net:
"Anyone who starts a blog believes that they have something to say that's relevant, and that goes for anyone from teenagers pining away while listening to the latest Conor Oberst offering to million-hit-a-day political blogs. All of us want to be part of the larger conversation. One of the traps that many people who blog, including us, fall into is trying to sound too much like the "traditional" wine media. Our biggest problem is finding a consistent audience. And THAT is where the insecurity comes in...the fear that we're not being heard."
Bradley Cooper @ Wine & Vince BC:
"Some very popular wine bloggers are, to me, almost unreadable. On the other hand, there was a wine blogger I followed and thought was hugely talented who got bored and abruptly stopped.
There has to be some desire to exhibit your wine-related expressions. These expressions can take many forms but whether we do it with photography, charts, writing or design, it all comes down to sharing ideas in a community that cherishes the form if not the result."
Carol Bancroft @ Pour More:
"I find it interesting how seriously people take blogs in general (and some wine blogs are no exception). For me, it's a hobby. And the way I look at it -- if someone finds information that I wrote educational or helpful, then that is very cool. But I'm not going to spend all kinds of time worrying about how credible I am or whether I'm meeting someone else's set of standards. Sometimes a blog is just a blog."
Nick Gorevic @ WineScholarship.com
"I think anyone who's reviewing wines should have a statement about how their ratings work and whether or not they receive any compensation from the winery or commission for sales in some way. Something about what qualifies them to taste would be nice, too. Those are two things a lot of people feel Robert Parker would not honestly be able to write down, by the way."
Michael Wangbickler, DWS @ Caveman Wines:
"The beauty of blogging is that it is NOT like traditional media. That's the point. Traditional media absolutely has it's place, but blogs fill a particular need. More and more, readers are turning to blogs because they are seeking the opinion of peers rather than the "establishment." There is increasing mistrust of traditional media, and bloggers are increasingly becoming the influencers. That's the whole appeal of social media. It's generally open-ended but self policed, and not controlled by big corporate entities with political agendas. Bloggers should be proud of their maverick status, not insecure."
"I do not think a wine blog should be evaluated on whether there is an about page that lists certifications etc. A blog is a place that can be free from popular media constraints. Wine writing in general is not overly accessible, which is the biggest reason I started writing about wine, to make a space where that's not the case. Blogs are a chance to write about wine in new ways."
Lia Huber @ Swirling Notions:
"You build credibility by doing something well--whether it be blogging about restaurants or food cultures, the balance of a wine or the ambiance of a meal. If you do that, people will want to continue to read your words, and if you don't, they won't."
Dirty South Wine:
"I'm not sure about insecure, but I think a lot of wine blogs are recreating the wheel into the shape of a wheel. When I look at blogs, I don't want to read just reviews and scores, but I want to read about someone's experience with the wine. Where were they? What was the setting? Did something funny happen? Was the wine worth the price? If I want only notes and scores, I can just go to cellartracker.com. Though I have some certifications, I keep those off my site. I'm a consumer and don't want to be confused as an expert (which I'm not). I'd take incredible vs credible any day."
(images: xinister.com, despair.com)
Are wine bloggers insecure?