Tag Archives: wine blogging

Ask the WC 24: Wine tariff, grape harvest, wine blogging

wine tariffThis edition of Ask the WC: Could the wine tariff go away? Plus, how is California handling its harvest in the middle of the pandemic, and what’s going on with wine blogs these days?

Because the customers always have questions, and the Wine Curmudgeon has answers in this irregular feature. You can Ask the Wine Curmudgeon a wine-related question by clicking here.

Hello, most cranky one:
Your post about the wine tariff not going up implied we could have some good news, like it might end soon. Or am I being too optimistic?.
Hoping for the best

Dear Hoping:
I’m cautiously optimistic about being cautiously optimistic about the tariff going away, but probably later rather than sooner. One top U.S. importer told me this week that it was incredibly significant that the Trump Administration didn’t extend the tariff to other alcohol and food products or increase it on existing items. That’s because it had been threatening to do just that, and just days before last week’s announcement. So maybe someone in Washington finally understands how much the tariff is hurting the alcohol business and the economy at a time when we need all the help we can get. Having said that, the importer and I agreed that trying to make sense of Washington these days is almost impossible. Hence, two cautiously optimistics.

Hi, Wine Curmudgeon:
Will the California grape harvest be normal this year? I mean normal in that the Covid thing won’t make it more difficult.
Wondering

Dear Wondering:
Everyone I’ve talked to says the harvest should proceed as planned, despite the pandemic. There might be some regional shortages of labor, but most California grapes are harvested with machines so labor isn’t as important as it used to be. But, given the way this thing strikes suddenly, all could change overnight if one of the wine regions sees a surge in infections. And none of this takes into account possible wildfire complications.

Hello, WC:
What’s the state of your wine blogging these days? Didn’t you say you were hurting at the start of Covid 19?
Inquiring mind

Dear Inquiring:
My traffic has slumped this summer, but who knows why? It usually decreases this time of year, and I have had some technical problems on the blog’s back end that probably didn’t help, either. And we all know how fickle our overlords at Google can be in driving traffic to the blog. My best guess is that the pandemic, the election, and all the rest over the past six months have given people other things to do than to check out wine blogs, sports blogs, and all the rest. But not to worry: I renewed the blog’s hosting for another year, so I’m not going anywhere for a least another year.

Photo: Ryan McGuire, via Librestock, using a Creative Commons license

60 days in: Your favorite WC posts during the duration

favorite

No doubt more of us would wear masks if we all looked this stylish.

You’re looking for wine advice, crappy wine TV ads, and Barefoot wine (still)

Blog traffic has evened out since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., and we’re back to more or less normal daily numbers. The intriguing thing? Traffic was approaching holiday season levels for the first couple of weeks of April. I’m guessing people wanted to find quality cheap wine to stock up on, and what better place to find those wines than here?

Cue GIF of WC patting himself on the back.

The good news is that the pandemic outlook seems to be better. But that doesn’t mean we should be any less careful.  So stay home unless you need to go out (and no, the mall food court isn’t a necessity), wash your hands, and keep out of sneezing range when you go to the supermarket.

Your favorite posts during past 60 days:

Ask the WC 1: I figured out why this seven-year-old post has been so popular — cava recommendations. You wanted to stock up on good, cheap bubbly, and why not?

• The Kim Crawford TV ad: I’m not the only who dislikes it, and that dislike has been shared by increasing numbers of visitors.

Residual sugar in wine: Note to wine business: Wine drinkers want to know how sweet you’re making their wine. So why not be honest with us?

Changes in the three-tier system after the pandemic: How do I know this post has made an impact? Because I lost a dozen or so email subscriptions in the couple of days after it ran, always a sure sign I annoyed someone.

• Barefoot wine, three times: Because Google. In those deep, dark nights when I grow despondent about the future of wine, I think about the time and effort I put into the blog, and that it doesn’t matter because Google sends people to these three posts. And then I get even more despondent.

The wine bottle workout: Because Google, again. This was a bit of humor that no one paid much attention to when it ran almost three years ago. But if you’re stuck at home and start searching for “workout,” I guess it shows up.

The Grocery Outlet cheap wine story: Note to wine business: We want to find retailers who sell quality cheap wine. So make some for them to sell.

The Mafia winery story: Just wish there was a way to update this, short of repeating denials from the winery’s corporate headquarters.

What’s missing? The do-it-yourself “Wine during the duration” post. It’s pretty damn funny.

Photo (and mask): Lynne Kleinpeter, using a Creative Commons license

30 days in: Your favorite WC posts during the duration

favorite

“Where’s that toilet paper thing that cranky guy wrote?

You’re looking for wine advice, Mafia news, and Barefoot wine (of course)

Blog traffic has rebounded since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S., for which I am grateful. Maybe it means we’re trying to keep our lives on a more even keel, with more emphasis on beating this thing and less emphasis on hording toilet paper.

Regardless, the blog is here for the duration. As my pal Bart Hubbuch, who lives in New York City, told me: “This thing is as real as a heart attack, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” So let’s stay home, wash our hands, and keep out of sneezing range when we go to the supermarket. Because driving around out of boredom doesn’t do anyone any good. The last thing we need is more people on ventilators when there aren’t enough to go around.

Your favorite posts during the duration:

Ask the WC 1: This seven-year-old post is the first in the Ask the WC series, and it never attracted much interest. About 10 days ago, though, people started reading it. It looks like it may be being passed around on Facebook, but I still can’t tell what makes it so unique all of a sudden.

• Barefoot wine, twice: Because Google, and discussing it further will just irritate me.

The Mafia winery story: This post has been up for four days, and has rocketed to the top. Hopefully, I can update it.

Residual sugar in wine: Always a visitor favorite.

Boone’s Farm TV ad: Again, this post didn’t do all that well when it first appeared about a year ago, but you love it now. And why not? It’s funny, and don’t we need funny now?

Do wine critics matter? Another surprise. Maybe there are a lot bored wine critics trolling the Internet.

Wine blogging in the time of coronavirus: If you’re going to steal, steal from the best.

• The toilet paper post. Thank you.

What’s missing? 10 things to do during the pandemic. Bake some bread, dammit.

Wine blogging in the time of coronavirus

coronavirus

How many of us remember this from high school?

What’s the point of a wine blog in a world consumed by the coronavirus? Call it necessary optimism

Friday update: Thanks to everyone who left such kind comments and sent such considerate e-mails. Again, I didn’t write this post to elicit sympathy, but to try to offer a bit of perspective. And to those of you who sent less than kind e-mails? No doubt your pandemic pantry is well stocked.

Blog traffic has been down as much as one-half over the past couple of weeks, mostly since the coronavirus started its deadly expansion from China to western Europe and points in between. In addition, blog cancellations have increased steadily, even though I haven’t written about screwcaps, ingredient labels, overpriced California wine, or any of the other things that usually portend cancellations.

Frankly, it’s damned depressing to write posts that no one reads. I say that not to elicit pity, but to ask a larger question: What’s to be be done about wine blogging in the time of coronavirus? Does it matter? What’s the point? Does anyone really care?

The answer, of course, is incredibly complicated. On the one hand, don’t we all want to behave like Albert Camus’ narrator in “The Plague” – “a man who, faced with suffering and a common crisis, does what he must and becomes a leader and an example, not out of heroic courage or careful reasoning, but rather from a sort of necessary optimism?”

On the other, and no matter how absurd it may seem, we also have a need to overwhelm Walmart and Costco to buy hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, household cleaners and staples like rice, pasta and canned food to build a “pandemic pantry” – just in case. And what about all that toilet paper?

And I can’t shake the feeling that the people who are supposed to be our version of Camus’ Dr. Rieux are more concerned with the stock market, the presidential election, and interest rates than they are with the coronavirus.

And maybe that’s the point, that the answer lies somewhere among all those contradictions. I am neither an epidemiologist nor a philosopher, but it seems that Jim Schutze, a former newspaper colleague and all around wise human being, hit on something recently: “We should be thinking about ways to keep doing what we need to do while minimizing our risk. It won’t work to try to shut everything down and hide in our holes. In fact, that will make things worse.”

So the blog will be here. If you read it, you read it. If you don’t, you don’t. But it will be here: Call it my small contribution to necessary optimism.

My apologies to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who wrote “Love in the Time of Cholera,”  and to everyone else who has used a play on that title for their recent coronavirus posts.

Paid posts: Welcome to the 21st-century world of wine blogging

paid posts

Who cares if the wine tastes like vanilla cherry cough syrup? We’re being paid to say nice things about it. Stop acting so 20th century.”

Who cares about integrity or honesty or legitimate reviews? I’ll just run paid posts

The following email, asking me to run paid posts for a wine club, shows just how little the wine business cares about the people who buy its products. I’ve changed the name of the wine club (which is reasonably well known) so I don’t get sued; otherwise, it’s verbatim:

Hey Wine Curmudgeon Team,

Big Time Wine Club wants to create some new partnerships with influencers. Our wine club works with acclaimed wineries and vineyards to curate a portfolio of highly rated wines from all over the globe, and then bring those wines to lovers of great wine across the US. You have great blog posts, and I want to find out if we can work with you to create new content around a few of our featured wines. We have some ideas on potential Spring themes, but we are more than happy to talk with you on your ideas for incorporating wine!

We have wine available to send, some paid placement budget, and an affiliate program. I’d love to get your thoughts on the best way for us to work together. Are you available to talk wine this week or next?

The jargon is annoying enough, but what’s worse is asking me to pimp for their products — “create new content around a few of our featured wines.”  The only thing in the email that’s fair to consumers is the affiliate program, in which I’d get a tiny, tiny commission if anyone bought one of the wines I pimped for. The rest is an insult to me and to everything the blog stands for. As well as to you.

But hey, why not? It’s the 21st century. Facebook sells our personal information to dirty trickstersGoogle censors the Internet for the Chinese . The world’s biggest beer company owns a leading beer review site. So why shouldn’t I take the wine club’s money? It’s all about the cash, right? Integrity? Honesty? Principles? That’s just crap for cranky ex-newspaperman, who still think they’re supposed to write for their readers. That’s just so quaint, isn’t it?

Needless to say, I sent a polite email declining their offer. But how many of my colleagues didn’t?

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, send me an email.

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