Tag Archives: wine blogging

Welcome to Wine Curmudgeon 2.5

wine curmudgeonOr, the Wine Curmudgeon really likes blue.

Call this refreshing the blog, and not a complete redesign; hence version 2.5 instead of 3.0, which went up on Saturday. There are still a couple of rough edges, but we should get most of them worked out over the next week or so.

The changes should make it easier to use the site – faster loading times; easier navigation, particularly for those of you who visit the WC with your phone or tablet; and a cleaner, simpler design. Many, many thanks to Kermit Woodall of Woodall Design, who did an excellent job with the renovation despite my schedule, which meant I took too long to make decisions, and suffered my cranky ex-newspaperman design eccentricities.

The new look should also make it easier to add better and higher quality advertising in my never ending quest to make enough money from blogging so I can retire to Burgundy.

Finally, there are a couple of things we had to do to please our overlords at Google, which probably annoy me more than they will annoy you. Why every post has to say that I wrote it, when I’m the only one who does any writing here, is beyond any rational explanation other than Google says we have to do it. As always, if you have questions or thoughts, .

winetrends

The Wine Curmudgeon most popular posts 2015

wine curmudgeon

Change your logo as much as you want, but you’re still screwing up my site.

The Wine Curmudgeon blog has a new editor/publisher, but I knew nothing about it until I compiled the top 10 most popular posts from the past 12 months. It’s Google, which now decides what you read on the blog. I can try all I want — and I try very hard — to write relevant, informative, and helpful content, but my efforts matter less and less. That’s because Google directs people to the posts it decides are the most important, and for the first time in the blog’s history, those aren’t necessarily the posts I consider the most important.

Case in point: The top post from November 2014 to November 2015 was a five-year-old effort about Barefoot wine that didn’t make the top 10 last year. It’s bad enough that Google sent readers to the blog for something that wasn’t current, but the Barefoot post replaced the $10 Hall of Fame — my reason for being — as the most popular post.

Ain’t the Internet grand?

Almost none of the stuff that I wrote over the past 12 months that should have been in the top 20 was. None of the stuff that I thought was clever or funny made the top 20. Just old wine reviews — literally. Seven of the 10 best read posts over the last year were reviews of wines from 2014 or before.

This, for a writer, is as depressing as it gets, not unlike someone telling Michelangelo that the Sistine Chapel is nice, but an estimate for painting the house would be even better. What’s the point of reporting, and then crafting and sweating over a piece, when Google says not to bother because no one wants to read it? The search giant equates popularity with trust, so it sends people to the most popular posts because its algorithm says they’re the most trusted. Because, of course, they’re the most popular. That this is the Internet version of a Catch-22 doesn’t seem to matter.

Even the good news, that my traffic recovered in 2015 from the slump caused by Google’s ever-changing search methods and from revamping the website two years ago, was depressing. I’m getting more than 51,000 visitors — that’s visitors, not page views — a month, an amazing number for a one-person site. But what’s the point if they’re coming here to read stuff that doesn’t necessarily matter anymore?

Not to worry, though, if you like the stuff no one else does. I won’t change the blog’s format just because an algorithm says I should. Everyone should know me better than that by now. The most popular posts from 2015, plus a couple of other notes, are after the jump: Continue reading

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Seven years of wine writing on the Internet

wine writingThe Wine Curmudgeon has the best job in the world — I get to drink wine and write about it for a worldwide audience that appreciates what I say and regularly tells me so. I’ve won awards and I’m respected in a way I never was in my previous writing careers, and it’s not like I didn’t have successes then. How about interviewing a talking dog?

The catch? That writing about wine on the Internet is as financially unrewarding as it was when I started, which is the lesson for the blog’s seventh annual birthday week. The Internet isn’t interested in wine writing; rather, it rewards selling and marketing wine. More, after the jump:
Continue reading

winetrends

The Wine Curmudgeon’s most popular posts 2014

most popular postsThe most popular posts from the past 12 months are almost completely different from what they’ve always been. Stories that been top-ranked every year that they’ve been on the blog, like The six things you probably don’t know about wine and $10 pinot noirs, aren’t any more.

Chalk these changes up to the new website, which debuted last fall; Google’s ever-demanding search algorithms and how they penalize sites like this one (and more on that Thursday); and who knows what else. In some ways, I’m no closer to figuring out the Internet and how people get to the site than I was when I started seven years ago (though the fine fellows at Reap Marketing have done their best to help me, as has Cindy Causey at the Dallas Media Center).

What I do know is that the blog’s reason for being hasn’t changed. The most popular posts continue to reflect what I’m trying to do here — cheap wine reviews, wine education, and criticism and analysis of how the wine business works. The most popular posts from 2014, plus a few other notes, are after the jump: Continue reading

Wine writing, and what's wrong with it

10 things a wine writer doesn’t do when he can’t write about wine

Perspective is all. Wine writing doesn’t seem as important when there is an ice storm and the wine writer is without electricity for four days. So what doesn’t he do?

1. Doesn’t worry about what wine to drink with dinner, since it’s so cold everything tastes the same anyway.

2. Doesn’t take into account wine and food pairings, since he can’t see what he’s eating anyway. And it comes out of a can. And is cold.

3. Doesn’t think about chilling wine, since it’s already chilled. From being in the house. And leaving a bottle outside to chill it more quickly results in chunky, almost frozen wine.

4. Doesn’t panic when wine refrigerator shuts off, since the expensive wine in the refrigerator is actually colder than it is when the refrigerator is on.

5. Doesn’t check Amazon to see where cheap wine book ranks among category best sellers, since he can’t get an Internet connection. And if he could, he would be checking power company site to see if there is an update on when electricity will be restored.

6. Doesn’t have any idea what the latest controversy is in the wine world (which, actually, is perhaps the only good thing about all of this).

7. Doesn’t panic, after a day or so, about red wine in red glasses and white wine in white glasses. Because it’s too dark to see anyway, and he can’t clean the glasses after using them, since there isn’t any hot water.

8. Doesn’t get worked up about scores, though he is obsessed with power company website and number of homes in his ZIP code still without electricity, and why that number is higher than almost anywhere else in the city.

9. Doesn’t get scared that website traffic will collapse if he doesn’t post on social media, and finally admits to himself that he doesn’t understand the purpose of Google+ at all.

10. Doesn’t care if pizza delivery guy (who is surprised to hear power is off) sees him wearing two pairs of sweatpants, two pairs of socks, three shirts and a sweater, a scarf, and knit watch cap. Let Robert Parker worry about fashion.

Cartoon courtesy of Benson Marketing Group

“Preaching to the choir and looking for agreeing nods from readers”

The joke in the wine blogging business is that the easiest and best way to goose your numbers is to write about wine blogging. And it works, actually, which says something about wine blogging that many of us probably don ?t want to know.

That ?s mainly why I stopped writing about wine writing. The people I want to come to the blog don ?t care. They want to know about cheap wine, and anything else is a reason not to come back. If you ?re any good, you write for your audience ? not to please yourself.

That ?s why I was so intrigued by Richard Thomas ? piece in the July issue of North Bay Biz, and not just because he said very nice things about me. That Thomas, an icon of Sonoma Country agriculture and wine, wrote the following means something:

I ?m not sure how many of you read the multitude of wine blogs, Twitter feeds and so forth regarding wine. Some make a few good points, but in general, it sounds like they ?re preaching to the choir and looking for agreeing nods from readers.

In other words, sloppy and boring criticism. That ?s because too many of us reinforce the conventional wisdom, and we don ?t ask the most important question a critic should ask: Why? Why is the business this way? Why does this wine taste this way? Why does this wine cost this much, and this wine this much? Why does this matter to our readers?

This style of criticism exists almost nowhere else, not in film and literature,  certainly, and not even in cars or electronics. Can you imagine a wine-style review in The New York Times Book Review: ?87. Offers a hint of savory adjectives balanced by unctuous characters and a zesty finish. ?

The Italian Wine Guy (who wrote knowingly about this in May) wonders if we are becoming as irrelevant as Pilates. The Hosemaster of Wine, never one to mince words, went even further last fall: ?What amazes me is how wonderful and entertaining and fascinating wine itself is, whereas wine writing is, with few exceptions, dreary, pedantic, insipid and repetitive. ?

The best critics are conduits, placing their subject in perspective and facilitating discussion, understanding that they are not the final arbiter but one voice among many. In this, they should be an intelligent, well-versed, and thoughtful voice that their readers can trust. The point is not whether someone reading the blog disagrees with me; the point is whether I have helped them understand enough about so that they are able to disagree with me.

Winebits 286: Aussie wine, French bloggers, leftover wine

? Hope down under? All that gloom and doom seems less gloomy and doomy in Australia, thanks to a rapid and significant decline in the Australian dollar. Australian winemakers big and small have been getting hammered for the past couple of years, ever since their dollar was worth as much as the U.S. dollar. Over the last couple of weeks, though, the Aussie dollar has dropped to US$.90 and could get as low as 85 cents ? still not the heyday of a decade ago, when it was worth 50 cents, but 15 percent is 15 percent. Why does that matter? Because a cheaper Aussie dollar makes Australian wines cheaper in the U.S.. Hence, they ?ll sell more at higher margins.

? No more French wine blogging? A group of experts says one way to cut alcoholism in France is to outlaw wine blogging, a novel approach that assumes wine bloggers actually influence drinking habits. The French are so quaint, aren ?t they? This is an amazing proposal, not only because wine is part of the French national identity, but because the French fought a particularly bloody revolution to guarantee liberty, equality and fraternity. Also, though I ?m cutting myself in the throat here (pun sort of intended), it ?s worth noting that general interest web sites that feature wine probably have more influence than wine blogs. Research for the cheap wine book found that the Wine Spectator ?s site gets about one-third fewer visitors a month than TheHairpin, aimed at 20-something women, that does regular posts about wine.

? Best way to preserve open wine? And, in fact, this demonstrates the reach of non-wine blogs. There is a reasonably accurate article and great discussion on Lifehacker, another more or less general interest blog, about a subject wine blogs mostly ignore. Because, as I wrote in a comment to the post, we drink our wine after we open it and there isn ?t usually any left over. I wonder how the French would regulate something like this.