Wine Websites Worth A Look
Wine is inherently social, a product that by its very nature almost begs to be shared. No surprise, then, that wine is talked about online with such frequency and volume. How high is that volume? A list of active wine blogs recently compiled by the organizers of the American Wine Bloggers Conference puts the total number of wine blogs at nearly 1500. Thanks to the work of passionate and knowledgeable wine fans, the days of a handful of experts determining what constitutes the wines worth drinking are long behind us, with thousands of people now turning to blogs and social media for their wine recommendations. Here are a few examples of wine websites that are giving wine blogging a good name.
Palate Press is the brain child of publisher David Honig. A lawyer by day, Honig has gathered together an impressive ensemble of independent contributors to this multi-author website, covering a diverse range of topics and writing styles with wine reviews, producer profiles, wine news editorials, and in-depth looks at the science of wine-making (note: this author is a contributing editor). Palate Press has garnered increased attention in recent months, with members of its staff being nominated for the 2012 Louis Roederer Wine Writer Awards.
New York Cork Report
Another independent, multi-author website, New York Cork Report represents the real power of the web when it comes to specialization. This award-winning website focuses entirely on the wine, beer and alcoholic beverage scene in the state of New York, and is viewed within the industry as one of the most authoritative sources on wine within that region.
Quit Wineing offers a unique take on wine recommendations: they consist almost entirely of staged photographs involving its author, International Sommelier Guild diploma-holder Courtney Rich. Courtney’s offbeat, entertaining wine performance art is humorously irreverent while maintaining a serious approach to its subject. A more unique and consistently entertaining take on wine would be difficult to find.
Bigger Than Your Head
Former university-level English teacher and wine journalist Fredric Koeppel has the take-no-prisoners approach that you would expect from someone whose job once consisted of grading term papers with a red pen. Koeppel has since turned his critical eye to wines that he reviews regularly on his blog, Bigger Than Your Head. Regularly cited for his tasting prowess and his lucid prose, Koeppel has created an impressive volume of influential, story-telling style wine articles that eschew point scores in favor of recommendations with detailed context.
Cellar Tracker isn’t a blog, but a collection of tasting notes and reviews of wines. In fact, it’s the world’s largest such independent collection, housing 3.7 million tasting notes on more than 1.5 million wines, authored by over 250,000 members. Started in 2003 by Microsoft alumnus Eric LeVine, Cellar Tracker now holds a powerful influence on wine purchases, with many consumers searching the site to help them quickly determine if a wine is worth buying based on the average judgement of its reviewers (think Amazon.com style product reviews). Its most prolific member, Richard Jennings, has recorded well over two thousand tasting notes and has become influential in the wine business in large part because of that volume.
The online world of wine coverage is both exciting in its independence, and and daunting in its volume. While the low barriers to entry have certainly muddied the waters of wine criticism, if you look closely you just might find your next favorite wine critics (and not have to pay a penny to enjoy their work).