Archive - March, 2008

Wine Rating and Dating

I have touched on this once before in The Conversation Starter, but wine and dating are a good match (excuse the pun).

At the time Nicolla Greaves was organising occasional evenings on behalf of the WSET and they certainly caught some people’s attention.

Nicolla is still with the WSET but has obviously decided that there is a future in matching wine tastings & education with the proper business of finding a soul mate (at least one who will hopefully understand your obsessional wine buying habits in years to come).

She and Nigel Littlewood, with a background in running bars, have set up an events company dedicated to this new aspect of the wine business (or is it a new aspect of the love business?).

I must say that the idea of a speed dating event terrifies me, but then being happily married (and maybe even above the usual age profile) I am not the target market. However I may have 1 or 2 young, single readers out there looking to put their hard won knowledge of wine to good use [and if it works out, do let me know in the comments]. I think the idea of having a topic of conversation like wine to kick off your first meeting is a good idea. Wine is a topic that says something about a person, whether they consider themselves a ‘wine geek’ (not that I expect ANYONE to use that term on the night) or ‘novice’, you can still have a view.

So, if you fancy it (!), why not check out their site and go along to one of their events (first one is on the 7th of April).

Oh, and if you’ve bought one of those wine notebooks it could easily double up for taking down his/her number or email address!

Good luck! After all, as they say, “it is all a matter of taste”

Great new wine reading resource

A few other bloggers out there have already mentioned this, so you may have come across it, but there is a new list of “Top” wine blogs and sites for your perusal.

Check out

I won’t brag about my inclusion as I admit I sent a begging letter to have my site added (no shame!), nor will I mention where you can find me as the list moves about as more sites are added.

However, as a place to start your exploration of wine content online you could definitely learn a lot from this list of sites (and a pretty cool layout, too).

What awards are we talking about?

If you have read my blog for a while then you’ll have seen some posts on the American Wine Blog Awards and know that for one reason or another I think that they could be improved (in particular that there are plenty of other blogs out there that are not American).

However, the reaction in the wine blogging fraternity to the list of finalists has been rather negative (except for those who qualified, of course!) and concentrating a little more on who DIDN’T qualify rather than who DID.

Here are some reactions:

Jill at Domaine547
Tim at Winecast

I just wanted to put it on the record that despite my misgivings about the US centric nature of the awards, I think they are a good idea and will help to introduce quality new blogs to a wider audience. I’ve been doing this for some time now and I hadn’t heard of a great percentage of these finalists before.

There is already talk of creating a new award, one that would be broader in scope (not just bloggers) and reach (not just Americans around the world). I applaud the idea, but let’s not take away from the PR efforts Tom Wark at Fermentation is doing and maybe keep those discussions for later?

If you haven’t voted, I do urge you to take a look at the site as there are some very interesting sites in the running and you too might discover a new gem.

All of which reminds me that I MUST update the blog roll with all sorts of new sites and blogs I read regularly. I am still thinking about how I might organise it so any suggestions of sites that should be included (yours?) are still welcome.

Portable Wine Tasting Device (no batteries required)

Sometimes, wine bloggers have been known to lack inspiration, wondering what to talk about next and hoping that an idea might just walk up to them, tap them on the shoulder and say, “Hi! I bet people would like to read about me”.

Unfortunately, most of the time that doesn’t happen.

But, like that dodgy chat-up line that fails 99% of the time, you can always dream that this time will be the 1% “pay-off”.

Thank goodness for Steve De Long!

I was casually getting on with my day job recently when all of a sudden a rather charming man walks up to me and says “Hi!” (he forgot to mention the bit about the “I bet people would like to read about me”, but I think he can be forgiven this time.)

It so happens that Steve is one of those virtual friends I mentioned recently, someone I met through the OpenWine Consortium.

Having mentioned I would be attending the Wines from Spain tasting in London in a comment, Steve, who happened to be visiting the same event, came round to introduce himself. We chatted about various things, he showed me an exciting project he is working on (which may be secret so I will not mention it) and left me a parting gift.

Now, it being a day job sort of day I was rather distracted, so I waited until I got home to investigate the gift.

To my surprise it was a very useful booklet which he has put together (with his wife I believe) that any aspiring wine enthusiast ought to have. The booklet is a 60-page wine tasting note archive where each page has all the reminders and key terms you might need to start the habit of taking tasting notes on the wines you drink.

It allows you to easily keep names and key details of the wines and highlight characteristics of colour, aroma and taste (using your own words or easily circling the pre-printed options).

Anyone starting out in wine will tell you that keeping track of what you taste can be daunting, and remembering all the different things you are supposed to judge can be tricky, so it is great to see it in a handy booklet that is also easy to keep on you for ‘emergencies”.

Best of all, there is even a cheat sheet in the back with lists of possible smells (aromas), useful terms and even faults.

I know I shall be buying a few for my relatives (sorry for spoiling the surprise if you are reading this) and in terms of the Wine Conversation, I applaud the goal of making it easy for anyone starting out on a wine tasting journey to track their progress.

One of the drawbacks of such a fragmented market for wines, where supermarkets can carry 600+ wines each and every restaurant has a different list, is that it is hard to remember what you have tried, and liked, before. This I imagine could be great tool (if used regularly – but isn’t that the same for any tool?) for those of us with dodgy memories.

So, thanks Steve! I appreciate the gift and if anyone feels they too might be interested in tracking the wines they drink I recommend you check out

Wine Blog Awards

Okay, the AMERICAN Wine Blog Awards, have now announced the finalists.

There will be lots of sites in everyone’s Readers imploring you to vote for them, and I think you should definitely take a look at the results.

Some of these sites are new to me and I will check them out before voting.

Just for the record, here are the sites in each category that are not 100% US based (as per my previous post) – of course even some of these may well have some US connections (in fact they all do):

Best Wine Blog Writing

Best Single Subject Wine Blog

Best Winery Blog

Best Wine Blog Graphics

Best Wine Review Blog

Best Wine Podcast of VideoBlog

Best Wine Business Blog

Best Overall Wine Blog

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