Monday, January 3, 2011

Rant: Wine Bloggers, I Call You Out

I am throwing down the gauntlet, issuing a challenge to all wine bloggers.  Will you rise to accept it? 

First, let me get the politically correct crap out of the way for the overly sensitive.  Yes, you have the ability to write any type of posts you want, even those that are boring, mediocre, unoriginal, trite, repetitive, insincere, whorish, grammatically incorrect, incoherent, kiss-ass, misspelled, and such.  You can continue to go through life writing those same type of posts over and over again.  No one can stop you.  Though the world would probably be a better place without such posts.

Now, if you are the overly sensitive type, and get offended easily, then I advise you to stop reading now. You won't like what comes next.  If you do continue to read on, just remember that you were warned.

It is a new year, a time for reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future.  So what are your plans to improve your wine blog? There is not a single wine blog out there that cannot be improved.  And there are lots of wine blogs that need significant improvements.  Don't listen to what your friends say about your blog, as they may not tell you the truth in order to protect your feelings. Your readers are unlikely to provide you proper constructive criticism either. Brutal honesty can be difficult to find, unless you actively seek it out, and even then you might not receive it. 

Face the truth, the majority of wine blogs are not worth reading. They offer little, if anything, of unique value so there is nothing to differentiate them from the mass of other wine blogs out there.  Others are just damn boring, like watching infomercials about toilet bowl cleaners all day.  Some repulse through their mercenary motivation, their obvious desire to write simply to gain free wine.  Others amaze you with their ignorance of the very subjects they write about. 

Even some of the most popular wine blogs are guilty of these sins, yet for unknown reasons, the flaws get overlooked by most readers, who dare not question the high and mighty.  Just because you have a significant number of unique hits, that might not be indicative of much, except that you have good SEO (search engine optimization).  Sycophants will tell you anything you want to hear.  

Where is the true passion for wine, for writing?  Where is the need to better ourselves, to increase our knowledge, to hone our skills?  Where is the desire to entertain, to provoke thought and discussion?  All of these are desperately needed and I now challenge wine bloggers to step up to the plate and deliver.

Change your wine blogs, making them better.  Don't be content with doing the same thing you did last year. Infuse passion into your blog, and endeavor to improve your writing, in content, style, and form.  Break out of your comfort zone and try to write something different.  Take risks with your writing, and whether you succeed or fail, at least you would have made the effort and taken a chance.

Make the effort to learn more about wine, whether it is from books, classes, wine region visits, or some other resource.  Expand your palate and drink wines you have never tried before, maybe from wine regions that are unfamiliar to you. There is plenty of writing about Cabernet and Chardonnay, but far less about such items as Greek wines or sherry.  If you only write tasting notes, try to write something different, to test your own skills. Try posting more than once or twice a month.  Dig around to find more original topics, rather than using the same news articles as everyone else, who all write about the same thing.  Stop writing about the same old issues, time and time again, unless you truly have an original angle to the story.

Frankly, my words will fall on many deaf ears.  Not everyone who should read this post will do so.  Others who read it will ignore it, thinking it does not refer to them, when it definitely does.  Others who read it will still lack the desire and motivation to make change. Those people probably can't be helped. Others will get upset with me for even writing this rant (though their anger won't bother me).  If I am very lucky, maybe a couple bloggers will take my words to heart, and endeavor to make positive changes. 

I am accepting my own challenge as I know my own blog needs improvement, and I will be making efforts to do so in 2011.  I won't just keep doing the same old things I did last year. Change is good, and I want to bring about positive change.  Hopefully, I will succeed. 

So my question remains: Will you accept my challenge and truly try to improve your wine blog?  Or will you take the easy path, remaining stagnant and stale?       


Tricerapops said...

I'm curious, what are your specific plans to improve TPF in 2011?

ryan said...

"Wine Blog" is too broad of a term to "call anyone out". If you want a personal site about your journey, an educational site, or otherwise; being more "professional" is not always the right answer.

If you are claiming to be an expert do better. If you are claiming to be a wine lover who just likes to write about what you do, and could give a crap if anyone reads it; keep doing what your doing.

In the world of wineblogging/anyblogging one size does not fit all, and standards run the gambit.

Richard Auffrey said...

Hi Tricerapops:
I have mentioned in recent posts so of my plans for 2011, including additional education and travel. I will continue seeking out new and different wines. I will try to be more critical of my writing, trying to make it better. I will be trying to seek out different topics and issues to address. And plenty more.

Richard Auffrey said...

I could have made my title more specific, but that would have probably taken 75 words to do. It addresses the vast majority of wine bloggers, so I think it is appropriate enough.

I also never said wine bloggers should be more "professional." That is a wrong assumption on your part. I suggested plenty of ways for them to improve, but such improvement can be for their own personal growth too. They don't have to be seeking to be "professional."

How many wine bloggers actually "could give a crap if anyone reads it?" In my experience, the percentage is very small. Most wine bloggers do care about readership, even if they may publicly deny it. For example, look at the hundreds that attend wine blogger conferences and seminars. These events discuss ways for bloggers to improve.

The primary purpose of this Rant is to get people to think and discuss. If the subject matter is not relevant to them, they are free to ignore the contents.

Melanie Ofenloch said...

Richard, I couldn't agree with you more. Bought a flip cam with the intent of trying to show the experience of wine through a wider lens than my perspective today. Tried to get it to upload to WordPress for two hours until I gave up :).... But, we all have room to improve and I'm up for the challenge.

Wine Harlots said...

Nice work, my friend.
Someone has to say the Emperor Has No Clothes.
My favorite bitch is when the blogger copies the press release verbatim.
The people who care work it, but there are a lot of flat-footed mouth-breathers out there.
Keep keeping it real.

Ciao bella!


Anonymous said...

Less wine, more pictures of cars.

Saignee, 2011

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Auffrey, but you're way off the mark. I don't think we can ever have enough posts earnestly discussing the 100 point system or extolling the virtues of organic wines, for example. These topics are endlessly fascinating and can only be equalled by the heated controversies -- Oh, how I enjoy them even today! -- over the relevance of some fat old guy in Maryland who has something to do with wine.

You are, in your calls for change, hopelessly jejune and archly recondite. Plus, you suck.



Michael Gorton, Jr. said...

Thank You for this. I often find myself writing a post about something and I think that no one will find this interesting. Or I may think to myself, what if I am wrong.

I often find it difficult to challenge myself, after all I am a non writer who is a horrible speller, sucks at grammar and has dyslexia.

I hear-by accept your call out and will do my best to improve my writing, blogging and most importantly confidence in my voice.

A year and a half in to the blogging world, I am happy with my blog, but I needs improvement.

Now to figure out how to do this....Let's see what happens!

Adam Japko said...

Rich...thanks for calling a spade a spade. Like wine, wine blogging is something that everyone can find their own comfortable levels of engagement with. There will always be more serious and engaging bloggers that add value to the information sphere, and those that are fulfilling some personal path that offers less value to readers. But your call for everyone to take a couple of more serious steps and be a bit more self propelling is on the mark. You made me usual.

Lenn Thompson said...


Like the post of course, but the biggest issue is that those who will take you up on the challenge(like us at the NYCR) are continually looking to upgrade our blogs anyway.

I constantly ask people what they'd like to see us do more/less of. Too often I get "you're doing great"...I want better feedback than that, but it can be difficult to get.

There isn't a "best practice model" for wine blogs. Most of the "top blogs" don't interest me and have a very different purpose from my own. As such, we're figuring it out as we go along, but always want to do bigger and better things.

Happy New Year, my friend.

Rita said...

Really great advice. As a new wine blogger, it's good to get perspective on what people want to read. And it's good to set the bar high. I certainly don't want to read crap, nor do I wish to write crap (although I may be doing just that!) So thanks for the push!

Richard Auffrey said...

Thanks for your comments, and I am glad some people have chosen to accept my challenge. There is no one perfect model for a wine blog, but that doesn't mean we can't all improve. And in the end, that is what I am asking for: just for people to work at improving their blogs.

Whatever your reason for blogging, improving your own blog will help you. Do it for personal growth, do it for a challenge, do it for professional reasons. But just do it, just try to expand your horizons.

And I will be checking back in again,maybe in six months, to see how we are all doing.

Jeff said...


I get what you're saying, but I think you should purge your feed reader or your bookmark list.

Ignorance is bliss and I'm a lot less annoyed on a daily basis by eliminating the bad, which leaves me the good so I can benchmark and continually sharpen the knife to get better.

Ixnay about 70% of the blogs you peruse and tell me it doesn't do you a bit of difference in raising your own game.

Richard Auffrey said...

Hi Jeff:
I already don't read a number of wine blogs which I personally find to have little value. Though there are times I will scan through those sites, hopeful that a couple of them may have changed.