05 July 2008

Beer and Wine and Blogging

Wine Enthusiast magazine has a couple of articles pertaining to beer, although they don't seem to be available online. One compares beer to wine with an eye toward food pairings. Drink IPA where you'd drink Cabernet, Gueuze in place of Champagne, etc.

The more interesting piece doesn't mention beer, but is is about blogging. Steve Heimoff confesses his grudging acceptance of wine blogs, but with two major complaints. First, he criticizes the "homophony" of wine bloggers, the "self-referential gossipy-ness that’s almost incestuous," as he repeats at his own blog(!). But Heimoff backs off from this. I don't know if self-referentiality is an issue with beer bloggers, but I do think it afflicts the political blogosphere, which is loaded with pointless "what he said" posts.

Heimoff's second criticism is of reviewing. He thinks bloggers aren't good at it, contending that you have to drink wine "intensively, constantly, reliably" for years in order to be able to review wine well. At his blog, he repeats a suggestion from a wine blogger:

The Good Grape blogger had a suggestion to make to boost credibility: Have wine bloggers complete some form of wine education, in order to become certified. (There are several different organizations in the world that offer such certification; some are more prestigious than others.) In Good Grape’s view, this would increase the public’s belief in the competence of wine blogger’s reviews.
Heimoff thinks this still won't be enough. "Why should we take anyone seriously just because they have a blog and put up some wine reviews?", he writes. Personally, I'd be mortified if anyone took my posts seriously, but then again, I don't really know what "taking it seriously" means. I also don't know who the victim is. The guy who buys a crummy beer I was wrong to praise? Caveat emptor, baby.

Question: is beer easier to review, appreciate and describe than wine? I can't imagine any beer blogger writing what I excerpted from The Good Grape. I know some beer bloggers don't like posting reviews, but I don't think that's out of deference to expertise. In fact, it seems to come from the opposite angle: what can you tell me about a beer that I can't find out myself by drinking it?

Anyway, I don't want to get sidetracked with a blogging about blogging post, but you can check out the print copy Wine Enthusiast if you find it, or visit Heimoff's blog.


Anonymous said...

On my own beer blog, I make it quite clear that I am not "expert," just some dude that drinks a lot of beer and has an appreciate for it. Being that most people know nothing about beer aside from macros, my less-than-expert suggestions still seem somewhat valuable.

Aaron said...

And my blog is www.theviceblog.com by the way.

Keep up the good work yourself!


Buttle said...

Yeah, I don't really know who the victim is supposed to be. You say you love a beer, someone buys it and hates it...no big deal.

Steve said...

Hi Buttle, I saw your blog about my column in Wine Enthusiast and wanted to say this: The time frame of print journalism is such that I wrote it before I ever started blogging! I've learned a lot since then. I knew someone was going to bust me over the "self-referential gossipy-ness" remark. That's how I perceived wine blogs last Spring. Now, I understand that the blogosphere is a digital village, and I, too, routinely write about other bloggers' posts. So, this is a bit of a mea culpa.

Buttle said...

Fair enough. That exclamation point of mine was perhaps a bit of a cheap shot from me. And you did have a point about self-referntiality and reviews.

One point I didn't really make directly is that a lot of people use blogs as practice of sorts: you become more knowledgeable about wine or beer or whatever through the process of writing about it. The "pros" sometimes don't recognoze this. You have to write poorly about a subject before you can write well, and that's what a lot of us amateurs are doing.