Monday, March 10, 2008

What Type of Wine Blogger are You?

"Where Parker sees himself as a crusader on behalf of beleagured consumers, Robinson views her role more as an educator and entertainer."
(MacLean, p.134)

I recently reviewed Red, White And Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass by Natalie MacLean. It was a very interesting book and caused me to think about several different issues. One of the quotes in the book that really stood out to me is provided above. It made me think about my own writing and whether I fit more into the mold of Parker or Robinson.

I would also ask my fellow wine bloggers, are you more like Parker or Robinson?

I feel that I am more like Robinson as my blog is more to educate and entertain. I certainly review wines and provide consumers my thoughts on such. But, I do not review hundreds or thousands of wines, trying to provide more comprehensive tasting notes for the larger wine community. Parker's Wine Advocate is a rather dry newsletter that reviews many different wines, but provides little else. He is much more like the Consumer Reports of wine. Even his Business Week articles are rather dry.

Robinson on the other hand provides more than just dry reviews. She writes in-depth about many different wine topics. She provides backgrounds on wine regions, wine makers and many other wine-related subjects. Like Robinson, I aim to touch on many different wine-related topics. I certainly have a long way to go before my own wine writing is on the same caliber as her, but our basic motivations are similar.

I suspect that most wine bloggers are closer to Robinson than Parker. I see far more effort to educate and entertain rather than try to provide a more disciplined and structured approach of just wine reviews. I am not sure a wine blog similar to Parker's style would really do too well unless it was written by a perceived expert in the industry. Though Parker may not really have formal training in wine, it probably would be more difficult nowadays for someone without such credentials to really be accepted by the general public as an authoritative "expert."

And do we really need many wine writers like Parker? How many such consumer advocates are necessary? I would think that there would be far more interest and need for witers like Robinson.


Anonymous said...

Interesting that someone who thinks they are like Robinson would be a proponent of Robinson-esque bloggers, eh?

I guess I'd have to say that I'm a little bit of both. I first started my blog because I wanted to learn about Long Island wine, but there wasn't an unbiased (aka not put out BY the industry) source for information/reviews, etc. In that sense, I'm a consumer advocate...but still educational as well.

Entertaining? Well, I don't think my blog is boring, but I'm not sure I'll ever be confused with an entertainer per se.

I think separating Parker and Robinson completely is a bit of oversimplification. Both educate and are really customer advocates on some level...they just go about it in different ways. Neither is better or worse...just different.

Taster B said...

I'm not really familiar with Robinson--interesting question though. I don't really think our blog fits into either category...but, if I had to pick it would definitely be closer to Robinson.
We aren't Wine critics. We don't give wines scores.
I attempt to relay my own educational wine experiences without coming across as an educator (because I'm not). While I learn plenty from reading wine blogs, if I'm looking to really learn about a topic, I will go to a book, and I figure, people reading my blog aren't interested in my regurgitation of what I've read in a book they could read themselves.
I look to wine blogs to pick up on trends and to get the blogger's viewpoint on wine related topics. That's what I try to do with my blog.

Richard Auffrey said...

Though I agree that the division may be oversimple in some ways, it is also how the two critics view themselves. Parker is more of the "just the facts ma'am" and Robinson is a bit more of a storyteller.

I see your blog, as most other wine blogs, are closer to Robinson than Parker. In a recent post where you stated you would be providing more reviews, you indicated you would give more than a barebones tasting note like Parker. You wanted to provide more info on the winery and the wines. To me, that indicates a more Robinson outlook.

As for entertaining, that does not have to be a comedian. It can also just be a good storyteller, which you do in your posts.

Do you think we need more wine blogs that are just barebones tasting notes, or more that also tell a story?

Taster B:
Again, I would consider your blog more Robinson than Parker. You relate your personal experiences while reviewing wines, more telling a story that laying out just plain, basic facts.

Consider the tasting notes at the back of wine magazines, such as Wine Spectator or Wine & Spirits. Those are barebone reviews, in the style of Parker. The essays in those magazines those, some of the editorial pieces, are more in the vein of Robinson, more storytelling.

Thanks to you both!

Robert McIntosh said...

I suspect that there is a false dichotomy here, but I don't read Parker at all so I don't really know. I also suspect they'd both be frustrated at once again being presented as polar opposites when in fact they are not in any way.

I am putting my thoughts together on a similar issues about how good wine, and wine writing, ought to make you think. On the one hand you have information that engages a reader's imagination, on the other, information to use.

Neither are either/or situations, but you need a combination of both to build an interest in wine, but if I had to choose, I'd fall on the side of providing entertaining, thought-provoking content (what you call Robinson-esque) rather than "information" which either is merely a 'data-point' for those who process such things, or a means of avoiding having to engage one's brain and have a point of view.

MonkuWino said...

My two cents, Parker is if you want a no-nonsense evaluation of a wine, right to the point. Robinson is if you are not in a rush and want to read something that has other material besides a straight review. As for my own blog, it is probably closer to Mad Magazine than either of those two writers!

Richard Auffrey said...

:) I guess we should add a third category then for bloggers closer to Alfred E. Neuman

Thanks Monkuwino

Joe Roberts said...

Me... I'm a Jancis Parker-son.

I prefer to educate, and to entertain - especially to entertain! - but I try to target the average wine consumer. Help up their Wine IQ, and hopefully do it in an entertaining way.

Having said that, the only yardstick I use is if I myself am entertained by what I write. Hopefully there are a few others out there who share my twisted and freaky humor. :-P

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if I fall into either camp. I'm more of a wine cheerleader - pointing out things about wine and drinking that I think are cool and that I'm passionate about. Perhaps in that way I'm more Vaynerchukian.