The decline of wine writing?

Many of you will probably have read the article entitled "Writers, Bloggers & Tweeters" by Andrew Corrigan MW in the July/August 2010 edition of "Winestate" magazine.  Though there were some balancing remarks, the article was generally quite critical of wine blogging sites.  Critical points to flow from the article include:
  • commentators and readers of blogs are not time-poor and have a prediliction for cheaper wines;
  • the reviews are very long with lots of personal lifestyle comment;
  • the reviews are not very good - they are usually gushing in enthusiasm and technically poor;
  • a user can't get a relative rating;
  • some tend to rubbish older wine commentators for "not getting it"; and
  • there is more interest in telling a personal story, than recording useful information.
I think the difficulty with this sort of generalised criticism, is that it is very easy to be wrong.  It doesn't explain why established wine writers also use the blog medium (eg James Halliday in Australia ( and Andrew Jefford in the UK (  It also seems a little unfair to infer that wine blogs will generally share these faults: I see no logical reason why many of the same faults couldn't or wouldn't apply to other forms of more traditional wine media.  Like any media, in my humble opinion, it's up to the user to form their own view as to its usefulness and adjust their intake accordingly.

For what it's worth, for the most part, I find the online wine reviews I read to be useful, factual (sure in some cases are occasionally a bit long - but that doesn't really matter), offer a relative rating, review wines from all price points (or at least if one wine review doesn't, another will) and technically around the same level (and certainly not worse) than the reviews that I read in more traditional media publications.  To me at least, individual online wine reviews are also an improvement on the boring "faceless" group or "wine show" style wine reviews that appear at the back of many traditional wine media publications that I always skip over: I actually like to get a sense of the particular reviewers' soft spots and prejudices over time - for me, it leads to a more accurate assessment.  I've also read many grandiose descriptions of howling wines in traditional wine magazines too!  I also don't see a lot of "rubbishing" of other commentators or older commentators.  Indeed, I probably tend towards the opposite - why not benefit from others' experience?

Perhaps this is because I like to read everything I can about wine, no matter what form it comes in - books, magazines, newspapers and online.  Perhaps though there is some merit in a lot of these sites, and it must be said that the medium facilitates the expression of a greater variety of wine opinion and stops wine reviewing being the exclusive preserve of the necessarily few who write for traditional media publications. Therefore, at least in my humble opinion, the position as put by Mr Corrigan is not so clear cut.
Wine Thoughts
July 23, 2010

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