Having neither a blogger nor a twitterer been, it was only last year that I succumbed to the wine twitterverse and blogosphere. Howard Jacobson rails against the twitterati because the participants are ‘too angry, often too incoherent and inarticulate’. Twitter does have its fair share of social misfits and bores tweeting ad nauseam in the ‘need more cake’ vein. Or the ones who end up saying more than intended, like the wine PR who recently blathered she’d sent 10 times as many personal as work emails that day (she left soon after). But there’s no bore, misfit or overbearing ego who can’t be zapped at the click of an unfollow.
If you recognize its limitations, the self-enforcing pithiness required by the microblog's maximum of 140 characters can be a boon in the world of wine. It’s worth checking out the Twitter search page for instant free access to anything from trivial gossip to the thoughts and revealing who-they-follow lists of powerful wine critics such as Jancis Robinson, Oz Clarke, Robert Parker, drvino and howardggoldberg in New York. You don’t have to be a power user to connect with irrepressible social media whizzes like garyvee or thirstforwine, or indefatigable wine trade twitterers like the court jester of Santa Cruz and brand builder extraordinaire, Randall Grahm, whose following is bigger than the population of a small country.
Twitter can be unnerving when it reminds you that someone else had that blinding insight before you, or brings home that the world goes on around you 24/7 like it or not. But like a series of dangling conversations in the bar of the Tower of Babel, its surreal interconnectedness has the potential for building relationships and sending and receiving links from twitterers around the globe to wine news, discoveries, jokes, good and bad, and thought-provoking articles from wine media you never knew existed.
Such tweets may make useful links to insightful interviews or raise environmental issues such as plans for a Mosel viaduct across German wine country and prospecting for tin in the Cape winelands. They can bring you an arresting Twitpic image, a useful vintage summary, an up-to-date conference report from 10,000 miles away, a surprising wine and food match, an off-the-beaten-track restaurant, a handy list of London BYOs, an unexpected off-the-wall comment, or even a car-crash video such as ‘What Happens when you Microwave a Box Of Wine? http://bit.ly/4HsfOL, which comes with an essential caveat: ‘please never try this at home’.
Blogging is more labour intensive than tweeting, but there are now sufficient wine bloggers, some 800 or so at the last count, to justify a collective noun (a blogorrhoea?) and an annual wine blogging conference. While you have to be a fully paid-up wine nerd to key into a blogger's wine forum, wine blogs worth following include Decanter Magazine in the UK, Grape.co.za in South Africa for news and articles, Eric Asimov’s The Pour, Alder Yarrow's Vinography and Alice Feiring’s Veritas in Vino in the US, while a site like Berry Bros’ bbr.com blogroll gives you instant access to the UK’s top 30 wine blogs (yes, I would say that, I’m on it).
Some view the new social media as the thin end of a dumbing-down wedge, but by taking the time and trouble to sift and sort, you can keep on your toes as the world of wine unfolds around you. That’s what I think today. Tomorrow's another day. firstname.lastname@example.org
Something for the Weekend 20 March 2010
Under a Fiver
2008 Corbières, Cave de Mont Tauch
This spicy, robust southern French blend of grenache, carignan, syrah and mourvèdre from the Mont Tauch Co-op shows plenty of juicy peppery fruit and damsony acidity, making it the perfect everyday sipper or party glugger. £4.49, Morrisons.
Under a Tenner
2007 Ramon Bilbão Single Vineyard Rioja
Youthfully vivid in colour, this modern blend of tempranillo and garnacha lays the emphasis on blackberry fruit succulence and concentration, while carrying its smoky oak spice and vanilla with style. £8.99, buy 2 = £6.74, special Easter offer, Majestic.
2007 Marks & Spencer Meursault
True white burgundy of the kind you know and love, there’s plenty of deliciously nutty and lees-derived oatmealy flavours in this stylish meursault, seamlessly bound in a framework of subtle oak and textured, finely balanced opulence. £24.00, Marks & Spencer.