I was talking to the Sweet Partner in Crime over dinner this evening (bulgogi-style chicken, fish sauce-soaked cucumbers, kimchi, and a tasty Brancott Sauvignon Blanc if you're curious) and I was feeling a little down. I got nominated for the international Wine Blog Awards, and I wasn't named one of the five finalists. Honestly, I was pretty disappointed, especially after I looked at the finalists and figured I could write circles around a couple of them. I was gritting my teeth a little that people didn't recognize.
When I started this little wine blogging adventure of mine, I had no idea where it would lead. Sure, I had "Julie & Julia" fantasies that I've mentioned before -- that someone from the Food Network would stumble across the Naked Vine one day, be so impressed that they'd ask me to take my "sommelier for the common man" act on the road, and people would know my bald pate all over the place.
I think I do what I do pretty damned well. But every single writer I've ever known who's published publicly does as well. While there may be nothing new under the sun, every writer thinks that he or she has a unique take, even if it's a topic that's been covered a million times before. It's like the old guitar joke:
Q. How many lead guitarists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A. Four. One to screw in the bulb, and three to say, "I could do it better."
Anyway, there are now thousands of wine blogs on the Internets, and there are a fair number of good writers. Complicating matters, I'm a bit of a throwback. I'm not much on social media. Hell, I have an actual job, people...I'm at a loss as to how people have time to work, tweet 200 times a day, and harvest their Farmville crops. I'm more interested in getting in print than being a Twitter trending topic. I also lack the energy to play the grip and greet game, so I don't know too many of the "people who know people."
Leave it to the SPinC to give me some perspective. She looked me right in the face during the midst of my little rant and asked me, "Do you still enjoy doing this?" In a typical display of my brilliant repartee, I looked right back at her and said, "Huh?"
"Really, why are you doing this? Are you having fun, or is this just something that you're doing to try to get people to give your site hits?"
I've learned one thing over the last eight-plus years. When the lady's right, she's right.
Every now and again, it's really is a good thing to count your blessings. Ever since my conversation with Scott so many years ago, this little endeavor of mine has allowed me to meet some pretty damned cool people, exposed me to a body of knowledge and science that I didn't fully understand, got me the occasional wine sample, and is something I take pride in.
So yeah, I do have fun, especially when I get on opportunity like last weekend. D.E.P's Fine Wine and Spirits let me have the run of their tasting table for their weekend tastings. I decided to do a live version of my last column.
I had a great time talking with people about the wines and why I found them interesting. I used to worry that I sounded like a complete clod, and while I still may, at least I'm a semi-authoritative clod, and most people walked away from the table with a bottle or two in their hands and a smile on their face, so I must have been doing something right. Since I have that little victory under my belt, I give you, straight from the soundboard, my picks:
I poured a pinot grigio next to a pinot gris to illustrate the difference. I had the Kris 2008 Pinot Grigio from Italy ($13) and the King Estates 2008 Pinot Gris from Oregon. The Kris was light, crisp, and full of citrus. A great lawnmower wine. The King Estates was fuller, had some softer fruit and had a honey-ish sweetness. I found it an instructive contrast between the two styles of the same grape.
I'd picked out a pinot noir to go between the two contrasts, but K2 let me know that there wasn't enough of the one I'd picked, so he substituted the Underwood Cellars 2008 Pinot Noir instead. This was a super-light pinot. Some nice cherry flavors out of such a light body. Not as much smoke and depth as I'd usually like. I prefer my pinots a little bit heavier, but it was certainly drinkable. At $10, a pretty decent value.
The last two wines I did was the syrah/shiraz comparison. I had the Gordon Brothers 2005 Syrah ($17) set up next to the Torbreck "The Woodcutter" 2006 Shiraz. ($19) The Gordon Brothers is from Columbia Valley in Washington State. It took a little while to open up, but once it did...yum. A somewhat restrained syrah, there were layers of dark fruit, coffee, and chocolate. As I told more than one person, "Pour a glass of this and get some dark chocolate, have some of both, and just lay back and let it happen..." The Torbreck was a typical ballsy Aussie shiraz. Lots of fruit with enough backbone to keep it from being a mess. Lots of in your face flavors that pair well with anything on a grill.
Like most writers, I fall into the trap of taking myself too seriously -- but yes, this is still fun, especially because of all of you out there -- both those who I've met and those I haven't. Thanks to all of you who came by the tasting to visit, that regularly read me or who have stumbled over here for the first time. From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate you letting me share this little experiment with you. You guys make my life better. Thank you.
You're my number one wine guy!
You always had the Molly Beagle endorsement.
We love you! Keep writing!
Hey..countless of us have learned a lot from your column, emails and facebook - and we don't have time to spend on social media looking for inexpensive good wines - so you're our "go to guy". Plus, you've given back so much by helping non-profits with wine events. Thanks and keep up the good work.
Nice blog. Being a wine lover, i enjoyed going through your blog. keep on posting.
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