Monday, June 25, 2012

Wine Blogging: An Obituary

“I am a blogger. But I am not a blogger. Blogging is well and truly alive. But blogging is dead.”--Jamie Goode,

“She’s my sister. (slap) She’s my daughter.”—“Chinatown”

Seems like you’re screwed either way.

Wine Blogging (2004-2012)

I first met Wine Blogging in 2008. My mother had died the year before. Or was it my sister? Or was it my mother? Though she was well and truly alive. Until she died. She would have hated Wine Blogging, and it’s a blessing that she didn’t live to see us become involved. She loved the English language with a passion most people reserve for involuntary manslaughter. Wine Blogging had little regard for language, and even less for grammar and punctuation. Wine Blogging overflowed with ridiculously ornate descriptions of wine, so ornate they were bigger than your fucking head, so ornate they made the Sistine Chapel look like a crummy tasting room with especially powerful crackers. At the same time, Wine Blogging could be mindlessly dull, emptier than a Food and Wine feature, more meaningless than a Double Gold Medal from the Temecula Wine Competition and Bachelorette Party. For years, Wine Blogging held the English language in its soundproof basement, bound and gagged and subjected to every imaginable torture, including waterboarding and reading Vornography out loud. It’s still there, screaming hopelessly in vain to be rescued. But Wine Blogging won’t let language die. That would be too easy. Yet now Wine Blogging is dead. And Wine Blogging is well and truly alive. Alive enough to really fuck up language, anyway.

At first, I had a soft spot for Wine Blogging, sort of like a bruise on a fresh peach, or that spot on the back of a newborn’s skull you sort of want to see how far your finger will go in before something bad happens. I took to Wine Blogging. But, you know, when you start a new relationship, you inherit their friends as well. I was fine with Wine Blogging, but Wine Blogging’s friends were insufferable. God, the endless yammering. Together, just the two of us, Wine Blogging and I had a lot of laughs. And we didn’t laugh at all. But we laughed a lot. Primarily, at the expense of Wine Blogging’s other buddies. Those humorless and self-absorbed knob jobs. Get them all together in a room and they’d yap endlessly about the 100 Point Scale, like so many Sean Hannitys wishing that just talking about something without actually knowing what you’re talking about will just make it go away. Or they’d talk about natural wines in reverent tones usually reserved for their favorite episodes of “Star Trek,” or the day they met Alice Feiring on But you start a conversation in a roomful of humans and nearly every one will eventually talk about his favorite subject at length and in great detail—himself. His wine journey—convinced he’s goddam Odysseus when he’s really Gilligan and wants to take you on a three-hour tour, a three-hour tour. His opinions about wines that were sent to him gratis by marketing people, thus reinforcing his sense of self-importance, and how surprisingly good they are compared to the crap he usually drinks—fascinating and useful talk. Makes you want to rush out and buy everything recommended from a sudden desire to drink yourself to death. Which may be the motive for wineries to send wines to those crap peddlers in the first place—to see their livers shut down. And yet to live forever. Live forever talking about themselves. Some in the third person, because the first two were so stupid.

Wine Blogging and I had a tempestuous relationship. We loved each other. And then we hated each other. Maybe it was just for the makeup sex, though, finally, I was told I wasn’t supposed to wear makeup. When we loved each other, there was nothing about Wine Blogging I didn’t like. Sure, Wine Blogging could be demanding, and there were always dozens of snide comments. Wine Blogging was always inseparable from snide comments. They went together like Wine Blog Awards and mediocrity, like, like Phillipe Melka and overpriced Cabs. And for a while I could stand all of that, because the rewards of embracing Wine Blogging seemed so great. And then they didn’t. And I hated Wine Blogging. But now Wine Blogging is dead. But I am well and truly alive. At least I was when I wrote this. Can you be sure I’m still alive now, when you’re reading it? And what if there are no readers, I used to ask Wine Blogging, how do you know you’re alive? Do you care? Not if you’re dead you don’t care. Ask Robert Parker.

When I got the Tweet that Wine Blogging was dead, I felt numb, like your tongue after judging Petite Sirahs, like your brain after listening to an M.S. speak, like your left arm after Marvin Shanken falls asleep cuddled up next to you after a dreamy night of playing “Hide the Havana.” Did this mean I was finally through with that bastard Wine Blogging? Or would it mean that I’d never be through with Wine Blogging? I feared both outcomes. A death so young can have ripple effects that last forever. Eight years old. Wine
Blogging was only eight years old, and now Wine Blogging was dead. And it was well and truly alive. But eight years is not a bad life span for a Poodle, a bitch. Or was it my sister? Or my mother?

Rest in Peace, Wine Blogging. I’m not surprised by your death, old friend. You were always in poor health, and had neither the skills nor the money to get healthy. You died a Goode death.

I’ll meet you where you went to die. In Portland. In August. But I won't be there.


John M. Kelly said...

Jamie thought he put a stake in it, reasoning that most wine blogs suck, but wine bloggers aren't actually vampires. Braaains, they want to eat our braaains! They don't even know they are dead.

Mockingbird said...

She's my sister AND my daughter!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey John,

I saw Mr. Goode's post and it was this sort of rambling, nonsensical, poorly written attempt at I have no idea what. I'm a fan of his work, I like his books, but that post was egregiously inane. So that was my jumping off point, and I just sort of created my own egregiously inane post from there.

The only fun in blogging for me is being able to publish whatever foolishness I want, no matter how clumsy or lame, and get the rush of finishing something creative. I dashed this stupid post off in an hour or so, and had fun doing it. Not my best work, not by a mile, but satisfying in a disturbing way.

Mockingbird said...

That's *Dr.* Goode.........

Ron Washam, HMW said...


Yeah, that makes sense. Only a doctor can legally declare Wine Blogging dead.

Can we sue him for malpractice?

Mockingbird said...

Oh, he's not a real doctor, just a PhD. So, to answer your question: Yes! and for practicing blog medicine without a license as well...

Mockingbird said...

Refer his case to the Medical Board of California. The Conrad Murray case left them only more bloodthirsty.....

Samantha Dugan said...

Slapped a DNR on mine a year ago....

Steve Heimoff said...

Somebody woke up grouchy today!

Daniel said...

holy crap. i just tried to read the Jamie Goode spew that inspired yours. what a pile of self important randomness. he says he writes every day. too bad he isn't getting any better at it.
i had a boss that used to say things like "i've been in this business for 25 years, blah blah blah". every single time i thought of this scene from Patch Adams: "...but that's my job", "but you suck at it!".

thanks HM for making my day suck a little less.

Mockingbird said...

Some experts are more expert than others.

Re: writing everyday - that's like having sex with a lot of partners. It does not mean you're any good at it.

Unfortunately, in the wine business the former makes for expertise.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Oh, Baby, does that mean no more mouth-to-mouth resuscitation? Don't let your blog die! Make it suffer like mine does.


Oh, just having a little fun with the "Authentic" wine guru. I need more enemies.

Thanks for reading. You made my day suck a little less too.


Just today?

Thomas said...

My problem with the diatribe is that it was Jamie Goode's opinion; he included nothing in the way of data to back up his claims, yet he used the Royal "we" when espousing the view that blogs have never fulfilled their promise.

Perhaps he made a point or two, but the whole piece comes off as self-involved as, well, as blogging.

Ron, you captured it well. And you didn't capture it at all. Was that my sister that you captured? Or was it my poodle?

Anonymous said...

phew. this is a spoof. i was afraid you were going to stop blogging.

i read the jamie good article, and it was spectacularly bad. also, it ignores the important fact that people like me read wine blogs every day, while print media barely registers on my radar.

and as a final note: ron, will you be in portland for the bloggers conference? we would love to host you at my winery. we read you much more often than any of those print-media dinosaurs.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Anonymous,

Well, no, I won't be in Portland for the Poodle convention. Me? I'd be flattering myself to say that I'd need to hire a bodyguard, but, frankly, though I love Portland, I certainly don't feel like a Poodle convention is something I'd enjoy even the slightest.

I have no idea what winery you speak of, but next time I'm in Portland I'm sure I'll drop by.

And thank you for reading my foolishness. Goode's piece was silly, misguided and poorly written. He's right about wine blogging being dead, but, honestly, that kind of post is one of the biggest nails in the imaginary coffin. I am grateful, though, for the easy pickin's.

Charlie Olken said...

The problem with writing the obituary on wine blogging is that you first have to prove that it had a life to begin with. I have yet to find a lot of life in blogging and many of the blogs I like have simply disappeared because they discovered that there was no here here and left. The rest of us just stick around because we are not smart enough to leave.

By the way, the anonymous winery in Oregon may be anonymous for a good reason. Most folks who have big mouths but cannot sign their names to their dyspepsia have reasons to hide.

I much prefer folks who don't give a rusty rat's ass about who get skewered as long as it is somebody deserving--and then have the cajones to put their name on the words.

Thomas said...

Hear, hear, Charlie.

If you can't divulge your identity, why say anything at all?

I chide HM for even replying to anonymous comments, but he is sooo needy for poodle love.

Did you know that HM is negotiating a multi-penny contract with the powers that be for him to either stop blogging or do it under the name anonymous?

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Hey Charlie,

I don't worry about anonymous posters unless they are out of line. Then I get rid of them as quickly as possible. I could be like Blinky Gray and ban anonymous posters, but, hell, who wants to be like that pretender?

I've been razzing wine blogging for four years now, and I think two years ago I said it would be dead in five years. Jamie Goode was simply writing a lame explanation of his Tweet that proclaimed wine blogging dead. I don't care either way, I just found his post amusingly inept and impenetrable, so I dashed off this amusingly inept parody.

I'm smart enough to leave wine blogging, hell, I've been that smart two or three times. In this reincarnation, I've finally learned to just do it for the creative exercise. It all doesn't amount to a steaming pile, but I enjoy the purging.


Someone who drops one anonymous comment usually can't bother to set up a Google identity, or use it for the comment site. I don't mind those people. I like the guy who yells a pointed insult from the crowd. I find it amusing, and that it keeps the conversation going. Doing it repeatedly is different and certainly a sign of self-importance ("Oh, I can't ruin my amazing wine biz reputation") or something equally unattractive. Those folks I try to do something about. But, really, it doesn't matter. HoseMaster is about as important as navel lint, and I spend way too much time gazing at mine.

Thomas said...


I don't care either...just like to chide.

A while ago I made a vow to no longer respond to anonymous comments, not so much because there's anything wrong with the comments but because when I talk to no one in particular I get the feeling of being had by no one in particular. I want to know the identity of my tormentor.

Blogging Daddy said...


After careful consideration, I have concluded that most wine blogs do amount to a steaming pile.

My only advice in circumstances like this is gleaned from that old story of a couple of goofballs walking down a path. They come upon a pile of something and they are not sure what it is.

"Is that horseshit?". asks one.

Second one sniffs it and responds, "Sure smells like".

So, number two, in order to be sure, takes a taste
and comments, "Sure, tastes like it".

Whereupon, number one, satisfied with the conclusion says, "Good thing we didn't step in it".

Richard Jennings said...


Thank you for more of your delightful word play, and for a very effective response to a lame post by someone whose writing I generally admire (Jamie). Maybe tweets, like video games, just aren't the greatest source material for longer form treatments.

Ron Washam, HMW said...


Part of the fun of blogs, and part of their inherent weakness, is that bloggers often publish stuff far beneath their talent and far too quickly. It's too easy to hit the "Publish" button and be done with it. Jamie Goode probably meant his post to be satiric, but that's not his gift. If he meant it seriously, well, that's even worse.

I see posts like that as a Gift from the Wine Blogging God, who is also dead, but that's a different post.