Tag Archive - Blog

Wikio Gastronomy Rankings for May – Sneak Preview

So, this month it was my turn to give (and receive?) some link love to Wikio and Gastronomic Blogging Friends.

Somehow, and I honestly cannot say how, or why, I’ve managed to enter the rankings of the Food & Blogging world in the UK according to Wikio. All these rankings and their algorithms are a bit of a black box and who knows what affects the results, but they are out there and fun to track.

I have been given the chance to give a slightly early view of the latest update of the top rankings of UK wine, beer, food and related blogs, and you can read the top 20 below. The most interesting points of note, well, those that jump out at me (in the time available) are:

  • Pete Brown’s beer blog jumps from 54th to 7th. I’ve no idea where this blog might have been in the rankings before but this is a pretty impressive jump and a blog I shall be checking out.
  • A return to the top 10 for A Slice of Cherry Pie (an impressive jump from 13 to 5) – a place I’m sure Julia has occupied before
  • Bordeaux-Undiscovered adds to the list of top wine blogs and builds on last month’s impressive rise with another, entering the top 20

As usual, I’m a little disappointed there are not more wine blogs featuring here (to add to Spittoon, Wine Conversation, Jamie Goode’s Wine Anorak, Sour Grapes and now Bordeaux Undiscovered) but it is good to see more beer blogs joining the list. However, it is interesting to see that most of the top 20 are reasonably unchanged, so I guess we are either doing something right (or as I suspect, the system rewards those who are already succesful).

If anyone else spots any trends, or has any thoughts on the development or nature of the list, please do drop me a note.

1 The Guardian – Word of Mouth
2 Hollow Legs
3 eat like a girl
4 Food Stories
5 A Slice of Cherry Pie
6 Spittoon
7 Pete Brown’s Blog
8 The Wine Conversation
9 Cheese and Biscuits
10 World Foodie Guide
11 Tandleman’s Beer Blog
12 Stonch’s Beer Blog
13 spittoonextra
14 DOS HERMANOS
15 Domestic Goddess in Training
16 jamie goode’s wine blog
17 Ice Cream Ireland
18 Sour Grapes
19 Joanna’s Food
20 Bordeaux-Undiscovered

Ranking by Wikio.

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Mixing my business with your pleasure

Sarah's signed VIP pass
Image by teepoole via Flickr

I have a dilemma. As with many other twitterers and bloggers out there who write about the subject matter they also work with, I sometimes have some potential conflicts of interest. To be more precise, I face some situations that some might pick up on as conflicts in a traditional journalistic sense.

I agree that someone who promotes themselves as a journalist and wants to be seen as an objective reporter of facts and news must be very careful about what products or brands they become associated with. However, I don’t think all bloggers really are journalists. We aim to share news and facts, as we see them, but mainly we try to entertaining you, and have fun as we do it. If you like it, you can follow us, and if you don’t, you can easily stop. We bloggers soon get the message.

So, to the dilemma.

I often come across information about, or even help to organise, wine events, tastings, special offers and more. Some of these, of course, relate to the wines I represent in the UK (which I have chosen not to mention on this blog, but write about elsewhere) or at least to the retailers and restaurants that I meet with regularly.

Should I let you know about these offers through this site, or should I be very selective and avoid the potential of being seen to abuse any trust you have in me as a commentator on wine?

I’m not talking about spamming my readers with hundreds of offers and deals, but if I hear of something I consider interesting, or get the opportunity to suggest something I think readers might enjoy, should I mention it here and do this as openly as possible even if it involves my wines, or business partners’? The alternative is, as I have often done, to participate myself and report on it from the event, but it does mean others can’t get involved.

In fact, turning it around, should I actually be encouraging MORE people to create wine offers for you through Social Media? Of course, I’m not just talking about discounts, but about events that encourage the exploration of wine and support wine culture.

I’m hoping that as many of my readers are also bloggers, or wine trade professionals, you’ll understand the situation and have some advice to offer.

As more and more of the restaurants, wine retailers and wine producers that I talk to want to know more about the possibilities of Social Media, there will be more and more opportunities for this to arise, and I’d like to get a sense of whether I’m getting the balance right, or you feel I may be promoting other businesses too much.

If you want to keep it even more brief you could respond “Yes” or “No”:

  • Yes – let me know of interesting wine related offers (but don’t spam me, just the best bits)
  • No – concentrate on wine writing (and do more of it) and let other sites promote the offers

… but a bit more explanation might help :)

Yours, in some trepidation for what I might be starting, your friendly neighbourhood @thirstforwine

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Oysters and Champagne: Sharing the experience

Oyster from Marennes-Oléron
Image via Wikipedia

On Friday March 6th, I shall be putting myself through a challenge – and thanks to the wonders of social media, I am fully expecting this to be recorded, broadcast live and commented upon for some time to come.

If you still need an additional reason to watch, I have had to admit that I have not ever really eaten oysters… Watch me live – you never know what might happen.

Galvin at Windows has decided to put on a “showcase event”, the kind that happens all the time in restaurants for those lucky enough to be considered “influential” enough to be invited – and by this I usually mean the traditional restaurant review Press and also key clients. However, for one of the first times in my experience, this will be done for the benefit of bloggers and other Social Media users AND shared with everyone via video streams and live blogging/tweeting.

Once again, I take my hat off to Fred at Galvin (@galvinatwindows) for his confidence in this medium.

I will be amongst a select group of wine & food bloggers, along with representatives from TrustedPlaces, to meet the suppliers of Galvin at Windows Oysters (Wright Brothers) and their Champagnes (Bibendum). The idea is to have a fun event, matching and rating different oysters, champagnes and the best combination of these, and do so in a way that lets others learn more about the subjects as well as about the restaurant.

Inspired PR! Even if I hadn’t been invited to take part I probably would have watched.

For those interested in the experience that, to be honest, most of us cannot afford, this type of event is a great way to learn about both both oysters and champagne, and matching them, through a medium that is so much more interactive and relevant than television. Hopefully we will ALL learn a lot from this event.

This will all take place between 16:00 and 18:00 (London time) via Twitter (follow #galvinw), via live blogging (although I’m not sure on what blogs yet) and also on the World TV channel Ustream.tv – to watch, click here.

If you still need an additional reason to watch, I have had to admit that I have not ever really eaten oysters. I believe I may have tried them as a child, but not since. I think that making this event my first proper experience is both wonderful (might as well start with the best), and terrifying. Watch me live – you never know what might happen.

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Excuse me while I go exploring

So what do a top-class restaurant, a wine bar and a designer/bespoke tailor have in common with wine? Well, for the first two it is obvious, but the answer is not quite that simple.

If you follow me on twitter you will have seen me in conversation with @galvinatwindows, @vinoteca and @simonblaqua a fair bit recently, and you might even be forgiven for assuming I was running their PR in some way. I thought it fair, therefore, in the interests of full disclosure which I am so very keen on, to tell you a little bit more about why.

Having ‘evangelised’ about blogs, facebook and now twitter in the wine trade for several years now, it is very exciting to see so many businesses I deal with in my “day job” really beginning to listen to what Social Media can do for them. Now, instead of blank stares or laughs (or worse) when I mention what I do online, people are starting to ask my advice.

I don’t “consult” professionally about these things (although you never know what tomorrow brings) so generally speaking I’m happy to sit down with them and share my thoughts on what they could do. In most cases it is a bit of harmless chat, but in some cases these new friends jump headlong into social media and start to do really exciting things.

@galvinatwindows is the GM of a great restaurant, chic, well regarded and frequented by all sorts of celebrities, rich hotel guests and adventurous London foodies with a head for heights. He doesn’t “need” social media to make a splash, but he has embraced it wholeheartedly and is organising special tours, dinners, cocktail competitions, tastings and menus and promoting them through twitter in particular. Wow!

@vinoteca was recently voted “Wine Bar of the Year 2009″ – they too don’t need more publicity as such, but they too are embracing social media as a way to have better conversations with the kind of people who love their wine concept – which includes me.

@simonblaqua is a clothing designer who works with performers like Alabama 3 and has also designed things for rock royalty (I’m sworn to secrecy, so you’ll have to ask him). I was simply a customer, until I used his bespoke tailoring skills to create my Moocket shirt. Now he too is excited about starting a bespoke tailoring conversation with customers and those with interests in bespoke design. I will be supporting this by helping to host an evening of wine & design on 13 March (more soon) – but mainly because I’m getting excited about the idea as a consumer, not for “business” reasons.

There is a blurred line here, I admit. Some of these people I meet because I work in the wine business, and they might even be current or future customers, but I write about them now because I think that what they are doing is very brave, very exciting, and hopefully interesting – and tangentially related to wine culture for a variety of reasons specific to each one.

I hope to keep bringing you stories like these as I explore what is happening with the people and businesses I come across, and I trust you’ll find these interesting enough to bear with me here and on twitter.

If you have any interesting stories of bars, restaurants or designers using social media (bonus points for making it relevant to wine culture), please leave me a comment.

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Social Media in a shirt

I’m off to Twestival tomorrow. There will be 700 of us in London, and thousands around the world, doing the same thing on the same day; networking, having fun, drinking wine, and raising money for Charity:Water

This post is not about that though. If you want to read about the great work being done by the Twestival organisers and the charity, click on the links above, and if you want to know why I helped to have the wine sponsored in London, read my post here.

This is about doing something a little different with my blog – getting out from behind the screen and meeting lots of interesting people who currently have no interest in reading my blogs, but who just might. Networking events like this, and those promoted on sites like Meetup.com are a great strategy for getting new ideas, new readers and new partnerships.

This is part of my approach:

Becoming known as a blogger takes effort, and not all of it needs to be online. Sometimes bloggers get so caught up in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Google Ranks, etc. that they forget that one of the most important things about writing a blog, and using twitter, is the possibility it offers to connect with REAL people.

Having a blog gives me a reason to network with other bloggers, and have something in common with them from the start. We can then explore whether there are any other ways we can cooperate – and maybe get them to read, interact and contribute to my blog, and vice versa.

Tomorrow night I’ll be doing just that, and I’m using the combined efforts of a shirt designer (Blaqua), a printer with great social equity (moo) and a little ingenuity.

I’ve had my friend add a small, unobtrusive pocket to this shirt so I can carry around my Mini Moo cards and always have them on hand to share with interesting contacts.

A bit of fun, and a bit of social media marketing in the offline world

[UPDATE 13/2/09: the event last night went extremely well, and the shirt went down a storm. I met SO many wonderful people and I'm glad to report at least some recognised me just form the shirt. Job done! Also, Moo.com liked the idea so much they'll be writing about it in their newsletter. If you've come from there, leave me a comment.

I'll be writing a follow up post with details of where & how you might get one of these limited edition shirts very soon, so subscribe to my feed and stay in touch]

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