Monday, June 10, 2013
What I Learned About Blogging in Walla Walla
I wrote this piece in July of 2010 and, at the time, it caused quite a stir. I think it was mostly the photo. The conceit was that this particularly unattractive wine blogger wrote a list of what he learned at the Wine Bloggers Conference, held in Walla Walla that year. After every Poodle Conference, the blogosphere is alive with mediocrity, list after list of "What I Learned at...," and I guess I'd been having a bad week. Apparently, I have a lot of those. And the piece seem appropriate given the recent WBC in Canada. Anyway, it's always a joy to see THIS guy again, and revisit obscure cultural jokes about vuvuzelas.
I learned so much at the Wine Bloggers Conference, and I had this totally original idea to list the Top Ten Things I Learned! It just came to me. I swear, I don't know where it came from. Maybe I'm channeling one of the many geniuses I met in Walla Walla. You would not believe how many geniuses were there. Steve Heimoff was there (he's like a SuperGenius! He sounds just like Stephen Hawking! Not the physicist, just some guy named Stephen, hawking.), Lettie Teague was there (she's such a genius she writes for the Wall Street Journal, which is a newspaper just for geniuses and doesn't even have comic strips!), Andrea Robinson was there (she's such a genius she's got these wine glasses that make wine taste so good you think you're drinking out of Riedel instead of a Riedel ripoff! Wow, how smart is that?), there were geniuses everywhere! I haven't met that many really, really smart people since I applied at the DMV. I learned so much about blogging, and I'm really excited to share it with you. I know a lot of you couldn't really afford to go to the WBC, so I'm hoping these insights will be helpful. I wouldn't have been able to go either if I hadn't sold all of those samples wineries have sent me the past six months. Oh, don't worry, wineries, I'll still post tasting notes on the wines! I'm not stupid. I wrote down all the back labels and I'll go from there. It will be just like I actually tasted them. Anyway, here are the Top Ten Things I Learned at the WBC!
1. To be a good wine blogger, you not only have to learn about wine, you also have to learn how to write! Not sure I signed up for this. Isn't it enough that I know a little bit about wine and took typing in high school? Those seem like solid wine blogger credentials to me. Now it turns out I have to find my "voice." I don't even know what that means. People can't hear me on this blog. I don't need a voice. I have Twitter. Which is like vuvuzelas--if you played them with your asshole.
2. Just reviewing wines doesn't make for a good wine blog. Then why do they give an award to Best Reviews on a Wine Blog? I'm going to go with this lesson, but I still think people are really interested in my reviews. And why wouldn't they be? Nobody knows more about Wines under Eight Dollars than me. I think the problem is bloggers who talk about really expensive wine and about wines from grapes nobody has heard of, like Mourvedre. Who the hell has heard of Mourvedre? Wasn't that the guy who created "Jeopardy"'s real first name? What turns people off is talking about great wines. Come on, people, let's stick to what wine bloggers do best--recommending reliably mediocre wine!
3. I'm really famous. Everywhere I went around the hotel, people knew me. It's like I had a name tag. Oh.
4. There were wine writers before Robert Parker. Apparently, this is true. But most of them were British and white and had a hairy wah and a huge Johnson. But they are the past and we are the future, and somehow we're supposed to feel good about this.
5. Marketing people are really nice, but you can't trust them. This is kind of hard to believe. All the ones at the conference were really, really nice to me and only said good things about my blog and how good I am at matching wines with reality TV shows, which is something I thought of myself and is really way more clever than matching wine with music or old movies. Like with "Biggest Loser" I said you should drink K-J Vintner's Select Chardonnay because it's really fat and hopeless. And why wouldn't I trust marketing people when it's marketing people who gave the Best Writing on a Wine Blog to marketing people who write fluff about wineries and wines they represent and are major sponsors of the WBC and also sponsor the European Wine Blog Conference (where I hear the girls go topless!)? That seems fine to me. Theirs really was the Best Blog. And it's not just a blog, it's paid advertising! It's a blogger ideal. I guess they mean don't trust marketing people who don't have a blog.
6. Bloggers don't like criticism. That's what so great about blogging. We're all nice to each other. It's like we all have the same defective gene. Except that HoseMaster guy. But I'm guessing he's just mad about his hairy wah. Plus, I hear he's been in prison for identity theft. He stole Hitler's.
7. Publish as often as possible. I kind of knew this anyway, but it's good to have it reinforced. Content needs to be slapped together as quickly and as often as possible. It's quantity not quality. With enough quantity, quality will come. We know this from Harlequin Romances and Cook's Champagne and Orson Welles. So don't sweat the facts, don't worry about originality, just crank it out. Whew. This one I can do.
8. Walla Walla is the Lady GaGa of wine regions. I made this up, but it's really catchy. Walla Walla=GaGa. And there are so many other similarities. Lots of fancy packaging with basically nothing inside. And next year we won't be talking about either one of them.
9. Speed tasting wines and posting about them is fascinating and educational. For example, I learned that most red wines taste exactly the same. Kind of like spit does. And that tasting notes are best when written quickly because you can just use the same words over and over and nobody really notices. For fun, I often write descriptions, and then shuffle the descriptions and the wines so they don't match! Know what. It's hard to tell the difference. And it turns out that's what most wine bloggers do! Now they tell me. That's how you know you have good tasting notes, they're interchangeable. This is liberating and should cut the time I spend on my blog in half, so I'll have five extra minutes to read Catavino and thrill at the prose.
10. Credentials can be fabricated. This is the most important thing I learned at the WBC. Your readers know a lot less than you do, so knowing what you're talking about is irrelevant. It's that you say stuff often and with a unique voice. So now I'm going to be the Selma Diamond of wine bloggers! And if someone stops by your blog and does happen to know more than you, you can delete their comments. But how likely is that? With a stunning dearth of talent, just look around, wine bloggers don't get comments.