An Homage to Tom Wark
Every now and then I come across a wine blog that has a totally amazing and wonderful voice. I may not agree with everything she says, she has a way of talking too much and about things she doesn't understand, like the pressure I've been under lately, but Millie Ennial of WineWiped has a voice, loud and screechy, but a voice. I think she represents the best intentions of wine bloggers, she writes with passion and sincerity and knows enough to edit it out.
When did you begin blogging and why?
I began in late 1996. There weren't any blogs then, at least not on the Internet, so I wrote copious wine tasting notes on a roll of toilet tissue, a la Jack Kerouac. That's where my blog name comes from, WineWiped. Sadly my old blogs were destroyed in a food poisoning accident. I started to blog because I have something interesting to say about wine. And I say it over and over.
In two sentences, describe the focus of your blog.
Obtaining free wine. Obtaining free wine.
What sets your blog apart from the pack?
I have no interest in learning about wine, just writing about wine. I don't believe you have to know a lot about wine to be a wine blogger, that's just the same tired old elitism that's ruined the wine business for decades. I mean, really, when you want to learn about wine, about what wine to choose, are you going to listen to the same old guys who've been writing about wine for thirty years or are you going to ride the wave of democratization and listen to a gal who really loves the stuff. Oh, and I love kitties.
How would you characterize the growth in readership since you began your blog?
It's grown a lot since the Charmin days. Is this where I lie about how many hits my blog gets every month? 25,000. Many of them incarcerated.
Do you accept samples for review?
Wine, food, urine...whatever. What kind of moron doesn't accept samples? But I never promise a good review. Why, that wouldn't be ethical! But like all wine bloggers, I can promise a profoundly inexperienced and ignorant review, and that works out best for everyone. I don't really have the background or experience to have tasted widely, and my Charmin notes are somewhere in a septic tank, where they belong, so I just wing it. And I love wine. Rarely met one I didn't like. But don't worry, if one comes along I don't like I sure as hell won't tell anyone. Again, simple blogger ethics.
What kind of wine rating/review system do you use, and why?
I use the one-ply, two-ply and Ultra-Soft system because I think it expresses how most people feel about wine. A one-ply wine is fine but a little rough. Two-ply is very satisfying, putting it between your cheeks is memorable. And Ultra-Soft, well, those are wines you want to take extra time with, wines that make you flush with joy.
How do you fit the maintenance of your wine blog into your daily schedule?
I don't edit, I don't spellcheck, I don't fact check, I rarely read my comments and I don't think very long or hard about what I write. So it's easy.
Have you utilized any particular techniques to successfully market your blog?
Every post has a provocative title so that it pops up in search engines more often. This month I've posted, "Naked Cheerleaders," "Latest Celebrity Sex Tape," and "Grannies with Trannies." The last one got the coveted Ultra-Soft rating.
In your view, how, if at all, is wine blogging different than traditional wine writing for print?
Wine blogging is more better.
Which other wine blogs do you read regularly?
The list is almost too long! OK, I read Vinography for the pretty photos and because Alder knows how to get free handouts better than a legless Indian beggar. And I always check in on 1WineDude because he never uses any big words. And I love to read the blog over at Mutineer Magazine because it takes me back to when I was in grammar school and the unpopular kids had their own newspaper. BiggerThanYourHead is a must read, I'd say, particularly if you have a sleep disorder or feel a strong desire to experience waterboarding. I used to read HoseMaster of Wine, but he's become so bitter, like the finish of a one-ply wine, that I don't think anyone thinks he's funny any more.
Do you believe wine blogs have made any marked impact on the wine industry or wine culture?
I believe the entire future of the wine industry depends upon us. Print media is dead--will someone please bury Heimoff after you wipe that stupid smile off his face? Now that Parker is dead, and that secret, held tightly by Squires and Schildknecht and all the other wine Munchkins at The Wine Advocate, is finally getting out, people are going to go online before they make their wine purchases and read the recommendations of lonely bloggers before they go to Trader Joe's and spend their six bucks. Those wineries charging fifty bucks and more for their wines better wise up and start getting those samples out to bloggers! We are the wine culture. We are the voice of the consumer. We know the truth about wine writing--no one can dispute your opinion about taste so don't sweat the details.
Vacation: Paris or the Caribbean?
Are you hitting on me?
Pet: Dog or cat?
Isn't this a little personal, Tom?
Airplane reading: New Yorker or People?
Do these lines work in whiskey bars?
Car: Prius or BMW?
For God's sake, Tom, stop with the stupid questions! I'm not going to sleep with you.
Chablis or California Chardonnay?
I love the way you asked that. That sort of smoky, peaty tone in your voice...
Describe what you would have at your last meal.
Oh, that's so romantic, no one has ever asked me that before. I'd really like it if you were at my last meal. I'll be the appetizer if you'll be the entree.
What is Heaven like?
Oh, God, it's a lot like where your hand is right now.
If you could invite 4 people dead or alive to your fantasy dinner party, who would they be and who would bring the wine?
Shut up and kiss me, Fermentation Boy. I want you to eat my sugar while I create alcohol and finally release all the CO2 I've been saving for someone just like you.
What advice would you give to someone considering starting a wine blog?
Do it! Do it, Tom! Do it, do it, do it, do it...done already?
A day in the life: My trip to Santa Maria Valley
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