05 Apr 2010
In My Opinion, Your Opinion Sucks
While not always successful, I try to live by a few key phrases:
- “Will it matter a month from now (or even a year from now)?” ~ Worry
- “The greatest treasure is having someone to share it with” ~ Family
- “All things are permissible but not all things are beneficial” ~ Balance
Lately I’ve been thinking about two other principles as they relate to blogging, twitter and wine. Let me tell you both and then I’ll explain them.
- When given a choice, being nice is always the best option
- Opinions are like assholes, we all have them and most of them stink
As I mentioned in the first sentence, these are words I always, most of the time, try and periodically succeed at living by. Those that know me “IRL” (in real life), are probably saying, “yeah, you remember that one time…” I can be a hot head. Lack of food and stupid people are not a good combination in my world. Other people’s children, disrespect toward my wife and ignorant statements make my blood boil. How is this related to blogging, twitter and wine? Hold tight, you’ll see. The point is, often times we’re presented with situations that tick us off, opinions we don’t agree with and wine that we wouldn’t use as flavoring for the swill fed to our enemies pigs (ahhhh…I see where he’s going with this).
Pulling out a quote from my days as a youth pastor; “A harsh word stirs up dissention, but a gentle response turns away wrath.” Recently a wine writer joined the blogger sphere and caused some excitement with his pompous portrayal of traditional media and his alluding to his vast experience as being superior to the hobby wine bloggers. Were his statements narcissistic, egotistical and uninformed? You bet! Could he have chosen different words to convey his message of credibility? Absolutely! This mini-controversy showed the power of twitter, the reality of carefully crafting your brand and provided three examples of how to respond. Some chose the rude and insulting route. One blogger I read crafted a great post that firmly, yet respectfully, called out the ill-worded bio. Others chose not to comment at all, relying on the very first point in this post, “will it really matter one month from now (or even one year from now). In a world when a single tweet can ruin your reputation, being nice is always the better option.
How does this relate to wine reviews? Reviewing good wine is fun. The hard part is thinking of creative ways to say, “This is the best damn juice since that wedding in Cana,” or “Do whatever you can to get a case of this; mortgage your home, sell your kids, show some cleavage to get your lips on this bottle.” Reviewing bad wine or even average wine that is overpriced presents an option to be nice or to be rude. One approach is to say, “this tastes like yak piss,” or “even looking at this bottle will damage your taste buds, the whole lot should be buried at the bottom of the ocean.” Considering that the bottle you’re holding most likely represents someone’s hard work and dreams, a better approach is to be factual about what you’re experiencing, “the aroma profile on this wine has an off smell of dirty socks and burnt cherries and the mouth feel is thin, tepid and off balanced.” This is actually one reason why I’m a fan of scoring wine, whether it’s a 100 point system, 13 point scale or some sort of A through F approach. Providing the description of what you’re smelling and tasting along with a quantified score leaves no doubt as to your opinion on the wine. A score of 75 points indicates your dislike for the wine without having to be abusive and rude.
This leads me into my final point. These are my opinions. This is how I operate.
Opinions are Like Assholes. Everyone has one and most of them stink.
Blogs. Birthed as a medium for people to provide an ongoing record of their opinions and experiences. The very nature of the web log is a platform on which people can stand and shout out their opinions. Many things in life are based on fact. Two plus two always equals four (except in the world of political economics, but that’s a whole other post). Reviews of books, discussions on politics, dissertations on Star Trek, the quality of American Idol contestants, what LOST is all about, biblical analysis, and even wine is open to many subjective stances. These are called opinions. Chances are you started a wine blog because you had opinions about wine and you wanted to contribute your experiences to other people. How you do it is up to you?
If your blog is a description every night of what you taste, good for you! If you’re attempting to promote a region of the world, go for it. If you are out there and think all bloggers are barking poodles yapping for attention, fine! It’s your opinion. I may not like it. I may think you suck, but that is also my opinion. Why do we get bent out of shape when someone disagrees with us? Will it really matter one month from now (or even one year)? Could we fire back with 720 words of text that would make a hooker blush? Sure, all things are permissible but not all things are beneficial. If we disagree, can we put together the point, counter point in a well thought out argument with differing views of the issue in an intelligent and respectful way? Absolutely! When presented with the choice, being nice is always the best option!
I have opinions:
- There is no way that a $200 wine is four times better than a $50 wine, but if you want to pay that kind of money for it, more power to you. I’ll buy four $50 bottles.
- I like point ratings on wine.
- The three tier distribution system is unconstitutional, un-American, and hinders small business.
- Washington makes the best wine in the world.
- Rush is not the greatest rock band ever (sorry, Joe). That title is reserved for The Beatles
- The new health care system is a crime against humanity. Ten years from now we’ll look back on it as being the biggest mistake of government in the last 100 years.
- The Bible is the inspired word of God and I try my best to live up to the words within. My humanity keeps getting in the way.
- Wine, more than any other beverage, is social, living, active and full of passion.
These are my opinions. I have my reasons, many of which I can back up with intelligent discourse. If you disagree with me, I’ll respect that too. We all have our opinions, that’s why we’re here. Being nice in our retorts and cross fire is always the best approach.
Cheers and Drink Happy!
01 Apr 2010
March came in like a lion and went out like a lion. An all time high of 30 posts with 28 formal wine reviews made for a busy month. Aside from the ‘formal reviews’ I bet I tasted close to 100 different wines at Taste Washington, at restaurants, and ‘relaxing’ at home.
With amazing online wine activities like #SauvBlanc on March 4 and #WAMerlot and Taste Washington 3/25-28 the wino activities were never ending. It’s pretty inspiring to think that the two main Twitter events for March could have driven sales upwards of 350 cases of wine and millions of brand impressions, engaging thousands of consumers world-wide. Sit back and think about that for a second.
The Nectar Monthly Honors is a recap of the BEST the Month had to offer.
Wine of the Month
Best Value Under $15
2007 Desert Wind Winery Sauvignon Blanc [reviewed here] $15
- The Stuff: 100% Wahluke Slope Sauvignon Blanc, Stainless Steel fermentation; 432 cases made
- The Sniff: Wholly tropical fruit Batman. This wine instantly transported my nose to Hawaii with Guava, Peach, and Pineapple aroma. I instantly fell in love with the nose and wished it could be bottled as a summer body spray for my wife.
- The Sip: Less dynamic on the flavor profile. The guava was mellow on the front and earthy herbs presented themselves on the mid-palate. The finish was lemon/lime tart but washed away nicely after a few seconds.
- The Score: At just $15, I score this a 4 (out of 5). This is a great value and is a wine that will impress at parties and provide a fantastic drinking experience in the summer months.
*Runner Up: NV Segura Viudas ARIA Estate Brut – Spain [reviewed here] $8
The best wine I had all month actually came from Taste Washington and was the Cote Bonneville 06 from Yakima Valley. Since I didn’t do a formal review, it doesn’t qualify.
2006 Fielding Hills Merlot [reviewed here] $36
Yes, I drank a ton of Merlot this month (8 to be exact) – what do you expect with March being #WAMerlot?
- The Stuff: Single vineyard Wahluke Slope AVA, 80% Merlot 11% Cab 9% Syrah, aged 19 months in 77% new oak, 14.3%abv, 163 cases
- The Swirl: Dark plum with beautiful jewel tones toward the edges. Mostly opaque
- The Sniff: Overwhelming aromas of cherry, smoke, and hints of spicy bacon. Amazed at how aroma profile changes as it comes through the nose.
- The Sip: A mouthful of joy! The black cherry fruit skips across your tongue and then transforms into undertones of smooth violet perfume, that then release themselves to cocoa flavors. The acidic finish brings a nice wash across the back of the mouth as the finish lingers for eternity.
- The Score: At $36, I score this wine a 4+ (out of 5) and would easily buy it again and again. The balance between complexity, flavor, and drinkability are impeccable.
Cellar Tracker Score 93pts (1 score); Wine Spectator Score 93pts
*Runner Up: 07 Longshadows Pedestal Merlot $55
Random Favorite Highlights from March
The post that made me spit wine out of my nose – Sommelier Starts a Winery: Originally seen on Wino Magazine, the credit for the humorous video goes to Greg from Gramercy Cellars. “Campy and rough, it still demonstrates the ridiculous misconception of what being a winemaker (or owning a winery) is all about. Winemakers watching this will snicker if not guffaw.”
Best Wine Quote: From Rudy @merlove during the #WAMerlot Twitter Tasting
”#wamerlot our most expensive Merlot smells of Gasoline and unshaven armpit and tastes like wooden strawberries”
Best Wine Post (sensual) – This goes to none other than my good friend and stellar writer Tamara at Sip With Me. My Date With Pinot Noir (warning either have a cold shower running or your significant other nearby)
Best Wine Image – This month’s award goes to the amazing Andy Katz whose image “The Golden Oak” was featured on Vinography, March 12.
Best Social Media Post – I recently discovered super tweeter @sung_h_lee. It seems that every tweet he provides becomes a favorite. Of the amazing articles on Social Media I read this month, my favorite was, “Thirty Best Ways to Build Blog Traffic”
DrinkNectar Most Viewed Post – “How do you define a bargain” (50+ comments) The post really struck a chord with people looking for value wine. While the post and videos that followed were birthed from a Grocery Outlet promotional campaign, visitors resonated with the message. My favorite part about this post was the fact that actual consumers, and not other bloggers, were the ones that read it and made comments.
Best New Blog Series – United Slurps of America; This incredibly creative concept is the brain child of the he said / she said blog at www.swirlsmellslurp.com. The premise, drink wine with another blogger in all 50 states. The challenge, damn distribution laws. The results, so far Pennsylvania, Washington (with yours truly) Michigan and Texas. This is a MUST bookmark just see if they can make it through with their livers in tact!
Lastly, I’d like for all of us to pause for a moment of silence in remembrance of two dear blog brothers who are no longer with us. March 2010 saw the loss of two of the most entertaining blogs related to wine.
Hosemaster of Wine; RIP
On March 17, Ron Washam, Hosemaster of Wine announced a hiatus from his controversial, humorous and satirical blog. He leaves us with these words.
“First of all, thank you to everyone who took time out of their lives to read my crap. I sincerely appreciate it. Secondly, to anyone I genuinely offended, I humbly apologize.”
Dale Cruse Drinks are On Me; RIP
March 30 was a dark day in the wine world. Wine bloggers around the world lost a trusted friend, good resource and visual inspiration. Dale Cruse announced he was shutting down his site in pursuit of new explorations. Personally I will miss Dale’s brand of wine humor. Good luck Dale!
*Just an observation, but could Dale and Ron be the same person? Maybe this is an elaborate scheme to break through with some super uber new sexy snarky blog that will blow the world away… #justsayin*
30 Mar 2010
Tops from Taste Washington
This weekend I had the privilege of attending Taste Washington on behalf of my DrinkNectar.com wine blog. It was an honor to represent the East Side (of WA) and to help the Washington Wine Commission with their first ever WWTV series of events. I have to give MAD PROPS to Yashar Shayan for all his work in orchestrating the technology and herding cats (wine bloggers / writers / nerds/winos). 15 interviews and a few seminars are available at the Taste WA UStream Channel. Scroll down to see the two DrinkNectar exclusives!
For my wife and me, the event consisted of the seminars on Saturday, six hours of tasting on Sunday, and then a topless wino’s gone wild party at Purple Restaurant (okay, everyone’s tops stayed on). I’ll be giving a full write up of the experiences that should come out Wednesday or Thursday, but in the meantime, here is a fun list of my most memorable experiences!
Meeting the Twitterati
I can’t even begin to count the number of “friends” that I met in real life for the first time. Because of Twitter, it was like I already knew everyone I met. The meetings were exuberant and full of hugs! Some notables (my apologies if I forget any) @wawinereport, @clivity @winomagazine @bricksofwine @divatink @shona425 @nwtotemcellars @sojengirl @sojencellars @winefoot @writeforwine @tomcwark @pmabray @deniseslattery @chefmangna @decanterbanter @wabrokers @nicoleevents @tarynmiller @dearcheri @yasharseattle @hardrow@winepeeps @czcellars @watastingroom @seattlewinegal and more!
I’ll go in more detail on Saturday’s seminar tastings where I got to taste amazing wine from Gramercy Cellars, Cote Bonneville, and Col Solare in the full wrap up. During the grand tasting Sunday, there were probably over 1000 wines to taste. We probably tasted (and spit) close to 75 different wines. During tastings like this there are several good wines, but here are the five that stick in my mind!
K Vintners – Motor City Kitty; 2007 Syrah ($30)
Pepperbridge – Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($55)
Nodland Cellars – Private Blend 2005 ($35)
Betz Family Winery– Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 ($65)
NW Totem Cellars – Late Harvest Viognier 2006 ($28)
Food to Dine For
Picazo 7Seventeen – Chef Mangana was serving an amazing Lamb Chop and the chocolate dessert goodie was heavenly (wish I knew more about what made it so great)
An Affair to Remember
Hotel Max Seattle – Swank, sleek, urban, artsy, and beautiful come to mind when describing the Hotel Max. Factor in the comfy room, city views, and central location – this is a must stop. “Dear Hotel Max, thank you for sleeping with me.”
Legends and Stars
I consider myself lucky to have spent a few hours with Paul Mabray, of VinTank fame and Tom Wark of, well…of Tom Wark fame. Not only do I feel like I got a masters course in marketing and wine business, my head was spinning with ideas on how to conquer the world.
It was also amazing to meet the one and only Barbara Evans. Yep, I met Barb…oh, sorry… Seattle Wine Gal (@seattlewinegal for you Twitteraddicts). She is everything you think she is…over the top, smart, intense, fun, and pretty. Don’t underestimate her, she is always thinking, watching and observing. I learned a ton from the brief moments we had to chat during the TasteWA wrap party. She knows her Social Media stuff. Thanks Barb for the ideas and inspiration!
My interview with Jarrod of Alexandria Nicole Cellars
My Interview with Jean-Michele of Pepperbridge
29 Mar 2010
Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Bordeaux…these may be the comfort wine of our world, but Spokane Winery Knipprath Cellars is making a bold departure and creating quite a stir with their Port line up and new focus on Iberian grape varieties Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Touriga Nacional. German born, Henning Knipprath grew his passion for wine in California, then started a winery in the state of Washington with a focus on Spanish/Portuguese wine. Henning brings his global experience to wine making and offers a perfect way to travel, with our palate, to new places!
(Henning is little quiet so turn up your volume)
After attending school in California and graduating with a Chemical Engineering degree, in 1990 the Air Force brought Henning Knipprath to Spokane (thanks, Uncle Sam). With a longtime passion for wine, Henning started Knipprath cellars in 1993. As an Air Force pilot, military deployments kept Knipprath Cellars a part-time operation until 1999 when they moved into their current location at 5634 E Commerce Ave. With his European background, Henning produced the “standard” Bordeaux varietals (Cabernet, Merlot), but it was his Port product that began getting the attention of consumers. “We didn’t set out this direction,” says Henning, “we were nudged by the customer’s response.” The nudge is so strong that Port sales are 60% of Knipprath’s production of 3000 cases.
The Port selection consists of a traditional ruby port, tawny port and creative delicacies that can only be described as desert in a bottle. The Au Chocolate is an infusion of pure chocolate extracts, and grape spirits while the yang to that yin is the La V vanilla port. The newest addition is the soon-to-be released Coffee Port. Look for a formal review soon. One might imagine some interesting creations by mixing two or even all three. In addition to Port, Knipprath offers hints of Henning’s German heritage with a seasonal spiced red wine using a recipe from his mother’s cookbook (Alpine Wine, $16), and a refreshing summer Lagrima (best served with a slice of lemon.)
The entire production of Knipprath wine (from grape to bottle) is done in the historic 6700 square foot Parkwater schoolhouse. Every inch of this building oozes character showing small hints of its use as a parochial school, military typing depot, and convalescence home. Henning has big plans for the space as he continues to think toward the future of expanded production, events space and expansive tasting room.
Next on the horizon for Knipprath Cellars is the release of a new label, La Bodega Del Norte. With Knipprath being so synonymous with Port, people often have a hard time recognizing the other quality wine. La Bodega Del Norte will focus on Tempranillo, Garnacha, and other Iberian grapes. Watch for these new releases in the near future.
Knipprath on the web: www.knipprathcellars.com
Knipprath on Facebook: search for Knipprath Cellars
Tasting Room Hours: Wed-Sun, Noon – 5pm
Old fashion phone call: 509.534.5121
27 Mar 2010
DrinkNectar is excited to be invited to Taste Washington in Seattle this weekend. I’ll be a part of the new live video stream. Can’t make it to Taste Washington in Seattle this weekend? Have no fear – stay tuned to TWTV for all your seminar, interviews, and vino news during the event. The live video stream is below.
Here is a schedule:
Saturday 10:45 – Food and Wine Pairing with Tom Douglas
Saturday Noon – 1:00 – Various interviews (tentative)
Saturday 1:45 – Mighty Malbec with Sean Sullivan
Sunday 4:00 (ish) to 7:00 pm - Various winemaker interviews
I want to thank Yashar Shayan and the Washington Wine Commission for asking DrinkNectar to be a part of the event. I also owe huge props to Hotel Max for co-sponsoring my trip. If you’re staying in Seattle, make Hotel Max your first choice.
Tips for Enjoying Taste Washington
- Have a gameplan. Wineries bring a limited supply of juice. The top wineries are often very busy and you could run the risk of catching them when they are out. If you’re keen on trying some Quilceda Creek, Leonetti or Long Shadows Family you better get to the table early.
- Hydrate early and often. The combination of tasting, walking, talking, indoor lights, etc can be a recipe for dehydration. Drink water!
- Eat. Nothing says “wino wimp” faster than someone who can’t hold their juice. Tastings of this grand scale are intimidating. You’re not going to be able to taste them all, but working your way through 30-50 wineries on an empty stomach is a disaster waiting to happen.
- Spit. Don’t be afraid to spit. The enjoyment of wine is the swirl, sniff, and sip. After 10-20 small one ounce pours, you’ll be tipsy even if you’re hydrated and have a full tummy.
- Socialize. Some of the best times at events like this don’t come from drinking wine, they come from interacting with and learning from the wine maker and their staff.
If you’re not able to make it to Taste Washington this weekend, consider coming to the Spokane event on June 6 - DrinkNectar will be there too!