Recently at the 2011 Wine Bloggers’ Conference, Eric Asimov, the NY Times wine critic, and Janice Robinson, a wine writer from the UK, spoke about the role of wine bloggers and wine writers. While I was not able to attend the conference, I have been able to watch their keynote speeches courtesy of Richard Jenning’s YouTube account, linked above.
These talks, on top of my own newness as an author and blogger, have gotten me asking what is my goal as a writer? How do I want to write about wine? How do I want to write about food? How do I want to write about travel? What was it that drove me to write Pour Me Another the way I did? This post won’t be an exhaustive exploration of these questions, but probably the first in a series of posts about these questions.
Let me start with the foundational question: who am I? Keeping my answer focused on the subjects at hand, I will say that I am a person who enjoys, within the limits of my food allergies and budget, cooking, food and drink. I am an enthusiast. What I know about food and drink, I have learned through experience and directed by my enthusiasms, the things that bring me pleasure, joy and interest. I am not a sommelier, nor have I studied wine or viticulture. I eat and drink and cook what I like and am on a quest to expand my experience incrementally, regularly trying new things and revisiting old favorites.
This blog remains as originally conceived, as an extension of Pour Me Another. The world of wine changes. Wineries release new wines, they go out of business, others open for business. This blog allows me to continue the explorations started in my book, hopefully extending the usefulness of the book.
Wine is a beverage and is best enjoyed in the company of others, preferably over a good meal. That is, for me, a Wine Fact, though, others would say it is an opinion. Whatever. It is a guiding principle for me both in my life and as a writer.
This principle may start to change the way I write about wine here. There are a vast multitude of wine writers, bloggers and critics who write tasting notes and rank and grade wines. And while my notes are useful for me to remember a wine, decide what to serve it with, who of my friends might like it, they are really about my education as a wine taster and wine drinker. So they may be interesting to others as a glimpse inside the brain of a fellow student of wine, but is that really what you want to read? My posts may start to move away from being just tasting notes.
The problem as I see it is that Tasting is not Drinking. The vast majority of us drink wine. We may taste the first sip or two of a glass, but after that we’re drinking, at least if we are at home or out with friends. Tasting is an artificial consumption of a beverage that is meant to be consumed with food. Tasting does not allow us to experience how the wine changes from the time you open the bottle for the hour or so you consume it with a meal or over appetizers with a couple of friends. Tasting doesn’t allow us to experience how the wine interacts, enhances or is enhanced by the food it is paired with.
My tasting notes may expand to include more context about the tasting: when it was, who I was with, what the weather was like, if there was food involved. At the same time, my notes may contract and be less about constituent aromas and flavors, the hints of honeysuckle and lingering chocolates. I am not sure what this means today as I write this. I stand by my notes already published, but they don’t tell the whole story. So my tasting notes may be changing from post to post as I work through what the tasting notes should be like.
To be continued.