Saturday, September 23, 2006

Blogs versus Magazines

I just finished reading Alder Yarrow's post about Wine Spectator finally acknowledging the existence of wine blogs, apparently the first time a major wine magazine has done so. The post got me thinking about the relationship between blogs and major wine magazines as it concerns the wine loving population (this means you).

I personally believe that wine blogs are a complement to major magazine wine coverage and not, as one might think, the competition. Advertising departments at the major wine rags might disagree with me (just read the business section -- networks of blogs are bringing in some serious ad dollars these days) but editorially speaking they can’t compete.

Consider this; most wine bloggers (even good ol’ Spectator’s bloggers) discuss wines they have tried recently, wine regions they have visited of late or “controversial” topics such as screw caps and box wines. Although wine magazines certainly touch upon these same things, there is more of an obligation to the reader on their part to cover the entire world of wine (or the region or regions they focus on) versus just writing about the great wine they drank at home in their pajamas.

I disagree with Kramer from Spectator that most blogs deliberate about unapproachable wines with miniscule case productions (that is more a fault of those supercilious wine bulletin boards out there). A reader just might find interesting suggestions on what to purchase by hopping around from one wine blog to another on any given day.

The difference is that blogs are streams of consciousness whereas the major magazines are (for the most part) well thought out publications written by professionals that will ultimately do more to further a reader’s knowledge. The problem with most blogs lays in the fact that someone’s “best wine EVER” is the next person’s slog. I find it akin to using (user generated hotel reviews) to plan a vacation. Three separate tripadvisor members who stayed at the same hotel at the same time reviewed their stay in three completely different ways. Reviewer #1 says “this is a house befitting heaven”, while reviewer #2 was not as impressed stating “ok, but nothing special” and, finally, reviewer #3 rants that “this is a disappointing second rate rip-off”. The same principal applies to wine.

Chances are you will consider this entire post ridiculously self serving since (a) I obviously have a blog and (b) I plan on having an online wine magazine published in the not so distant future. Be that as it may, I would love to hear what you have to say. Consider this my disclaimer.

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