Tag Archive - food

No one wants to watch wine movies

Ok, so I got your attention. I’m sure some of you came racing over here to tell me I’m wrong. Sideways, Mondovino, A Good Year, French Kiss, and more … so many good, and not so good, films that speak of wine. I’m not here to debate the quality and accuracy of the films, but these films have something in common – story lines, emotions and entertainment.

I love wine movies. One of my favorite ways to enjoy them is curled up with my wife, sharing a bottle of good wine. By the end of the film, if the match works, the wine is often wedded with the film in such a way that when I think of one, the other is not far behind.

I say this because I don’t believe anyone, and I include myself, has EVER sat down with a bottle of wine or bowl of popcorn to watch your winery’s website video intro, the one that pops up annoyingly when I want to find something specific on your website. Your website is a tool to transfer information, not a place to hangout and watch movies. And it never will be. Your “wine movie” is not primarily about entertainment, it will not engage consumers emotionally. Let’s face it, it is not going to win an oscar or do anything to sell more of your wine. No one wants to watch these wine movies.

However, a winery can still benefit from the movies. The wine I open for a movie is often selected based on the mood of the movie, or the emotion of the evening. Romantic dramas might suggest a more elegant wine, or you might prefer a muscular Cabernet for the raw-meat of a classic Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

I want wineries to take the “think different” challenge. Don’t plan the film that you want to make about yourself and your wines, think instead of the movies that have already been made. This weekend, for example, try those that are up for an Academy Award (Oscar). Why not tell us which of the films is the best match for your wine – then cheerlead for it? Do some wine and movie pairings, then challenge your mailing lists to offer up better suggestions then link to a place to buy films or rent them online. Maybe even offer an “Oscar pack” of wines for the winning movies. Why not?

And to all you bloggers and engaged consumers, why not challenge yourselves to a movie and wine pairing event? You can match wine and films based on mood, labels, names, styles, even by the names of the winemaker. How would YOU  go about doing this?

It’s been a while since my last movie marathon with friends, but this could be a great way to do it again. Dim the lights, make some snacks and pair some movies!

Here’s a couple to get you started from all of us at Vrazon:

  • The Iron Lady” and Blue Nun – because the once great, popular lady in blue is now a bit frayed and confused. (Robert)
  • The Crying Game”  and any good Blanc de Noir – Not everything is what it seems to be, and yet it can still stir your emotions. (Ryan)

and of course what list would be complete without…

  • Silence of the Lambs” and a Good Chianti (or Amarone, if you read the book) – No explanation needed…though choose your accompaniments carefully!

If you have any ideas, especially if you are a winery and think there is a film that expresses your wine’s personality, tell us about it in the comments below.

Cheers, Ryan

Note: The Academy Awards take place this Sunday, February 26th 2012 at 19:00 Eastern US time (02:00 Central European Time)

Here’s a list of the main category finalists to get you started:

Best Picture: The Artist, The Descendants, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, The Help, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Tree of Life, War Horse
Actor in a Leading Role: Demián Bichir, George Clooney, Jean Dujardin, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt
Actress in a Leading Role: Glenn Close, Viola Davis, Rooney Mara, Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams
Directing: The Artist, The Descendants, Hugo, Midnight in Paris, The Tree of Life

 

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In 2012 please bring the 99% something different

There have been a few “New Years” posts that have tried to peer into wine tinted crystal balls and extract ideas of what the new year will bring us. When I say us, I’m referring to the wine world and its future trends, sales and “movements”. Will Bio-D continue to be a force? Will China finally begin buying other wines and not just help to drive the price of Clarets through the roof? Will the “up and comers” up and come?

I don’t think I need to join in. David Lowe, did one of the better wrap ups when he asked top movers and shakers what they thought. I heartily recommend clicking over to read the lengthy article.

Therefore, I just want to make one request of wine writers, wine pundits, wine authors and the rest. It’s two pronged the request, and does have some caveats, but I think it’s worth mentioning. Let me know what you think.

The request I have is quite simple: Please take yourself LESS seriously. Wine is a liquid with flavor. It’s not going to bring the end of the world, nor cause mass panic when priced incorrectly or when the author happens to share a lunch with the person who made it. I know this is hard to believe, but wine is supposed to be fun. Turns out the consumer, or the 99% of consumers who do not spend more than a 20 on a bottle of wine, don’t give a damn about wine beyond making sure it helps to lubricate the social situation they are currently in. It’s my wish that this idea, of wine being fun, can seep into wine communications in 2012.

That said, I realize there are a few of you out there who need to cater to the 1% of people who do care if the the total volatile acidity is greater than or less than the average wine drinkers attention span, or whether the choice of egg shaped fermentation vessels really has added a .00003% decrease in tannin harshness. I’m willing to bet that about 5 of you could manage to maintain this vital content. To you 5, please keep it up! You’re doing great.

To the rest of you wine writers who were not included in the elite group of 5 I mention about, there are still lot’s of options.  I’ll assume the rest of you are the ones complaining about the loss of column space about wine in the local papers, the downfall of a privlededged lifestyle which demands that one must enjoy long lunches and late night punditry over wines that they can’t afford unless offered to them, in a purely objective context, by the winemakers themselves. I can’t say I blame you, but as they say, “you gotta get paid”.

To do so I reply:  move on to new pastures, or get creative.

Give me, no give us, the 99% of wine drinkers, something to bite off and chew on, full of new flavors and ideas. Give us context. Give us stories. But above all, give me something we haven’t seen before. No more fruit flavored adjectives ladled over healthy helpings of regurgitated geek speak. It’s giving us indigestion, and for the most part, constitutes a lack of creativity and independent thought.

Don’t start another blog this year, with your thoughts on what  the wine you bought at the local corner shop tastes like. Do something different. Think outside the box. Or maybe get into boxed wines. Wine fashion, what dress pairs with Cabernet? Wine architecture. While a waste of money IMHO, there are plenty of killer buildings whose stories have not been told within this world of wine. How about beach wines? I always wondered what wine pairs best with the light saltiness that clings to my lips as I climb from  the Mediterranean on a July afternoon. Explore the world with a new perspective, one that acknowledges wine as beverage and not as a sacred cow.

I know this request will be laughed at by some of the “serious wine writers” who will claim that they are doing “serious business” here. And while I my disagree, I’m willing to play along. Let’s look at one of the big news stories from last year: Bordeaux and its ability to price itself out of the market.

My take on this is simple. I heard far more whining about Bordeaux losing their minds and the harm that the pricing will do to the Bordeaux market than I heard about people offering alternatives. From my perspective, Bordeaux is selling fine. It’s value is over inflated due to the string of “once in a century” vintages, but  really, who is maintaining this market?  The journalists themselves? Most likely. Every year, they are invited and coddled at tastings during En Primeur, journalists accept their invitation, “forcing” them to cover a historic wine region. Thus giving much of their time to a region that does not really need the help.

I say let Bordeaux go this year. I like Bordeaux, but give them a reason to work for their reputation. Take a risk, stick your neck on the line and help build a region that is not stuck in history, where the marketing of its wines are not linked to 100+ year old competitions.  If you want to do the “serious business” of wine writing right, cover the news that as of late Bordeaux is more of an idea than a wine.

Do we really need more long lists of tasting notes from Bordeaux? Burgundy? Napa? Others? Do we really need more speculating about what the old guard is doing today?

The 99% says no.

If a smart and influential wine writer wanted to do some good for the average wine drinker, they would spend more time putting pressure on the local retailers to up their game; to make the supermarkets take responsibility for their appalling selections and pricing; to help the growers demand fairer prices in the market; to help educate consumers to upgrade their purchase and thus kill the evil 3 for 10 virus that seems to spread like a cancer.  Why not give us a week of consumer focused writing and punditry, rather than complain about lazy wine regions that coddle the wine press.

2012 is going to be amazing. I know it. A blank slate waiting to be filled with stories and travels. I just ask all of you “communicators” to reach out this year and try something different. Just because you always have doesn’t mean you always have to. There is plenty of opportunities in the world today to make a buck or two writing about the things you love, you just need to make sure you put a new twist on it.

Cheers,

Ryan

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A community of wine lovers and friends at the EWBC

“My nerves were getting to me. After all, I had no formal wine training, no valuable old bottles to bring, and was just wearing jeans in this incredibly chic venue! …

Equipped with spit buckets galore, people start rushing around like some sort of speed dating game with bottles in hand. I realized I had to be more aggressive when I looked at my bottle that was hardly touched. So off I went, to do what I do best… mingle. With some wine the worries went away and I was learning the game. But the highlight came when the crazy Portuguese guys brought out their precious port from the 1980′s and started rationing it out to the line of wine lovers. In partners of newly made friends, we ran over to the chocolate cake table to see how delicious this pairing really could be…and let me tell you.. after 4 doses of port and probably an entire cake…I was set for the evening! What an awesome end to the night and beginning to a memorable wine conference weekend.” – Anna Savino, EWBC first-timer

The unofficial start of the annual EWBC has come to symbolise the heart of this event for me. The European Wine Bloggers Conference is about a lot of things, but one of the most important is community.

This is not your regular conference, where you turn up, alone, listen in silence, exchange a few business cards and then go home, unmoved. The EWBC is an annual gathering of friends who interact all year around and for whom the three days are more like a pilgrimage than a business event, and everyone is invited.

Think back to the last conference you attended. How involved did you get with the other attendees beforehand? How much did you prepare? How many people did you know before … and after?

Nowhere is this more obvious than with the excitement generated by the “BYOB” dinner the night before the main event. The planning starts weeks before. These are passionate wine lovers. Everyone wants to bring something special, unique and personal. Over 80 wines were registered for this event (more arrived on the night) with at least 65 varieties represented. These were special bottles being brought to share. How better to make new friends than by exchanging not just names and handshakes, but wines and stories?

IMG_0990There is a lot left to report on regarding EWBC 2011 – great tastings and visits to the producers of Franciacorta; astonishing wines from across the hugely varied Italian landscape, tasting “modern Chile” with Italian food, and of course the theme of this event, the stories of wine. However, no report by us about the EWBC could begin without a heartfelt thank you to the AMAZING community of friends who make the event so special.

I cannot believe any organisers can be so well supported, or could expect to receive so many personal messages of thanks – even after the unfortunate outcome of what should have been the celebratory dinner on Saturday. We all, the organisers and the catering company, are truly sorry for the failure, and the patience and understanding of all participants was marvellous.

We are very excited about organising even more events for the community and announcing some wonderful plans for EWBC 2012.

If you want to catch up on this EWBC, do check out the video archive (already uploaded), the vast range of photos and all the interaction on facebook and twitter (#ewbc). Here, to entertain you, are some memories from the BYOB night (thanks to MadCatMedia):

… and don’t forget to keep an eye on this site for the EWBC 2012 announcement on November 28th 2012.

Thank you, friends, again. I raise my glass to you all.

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Better Wine Blogging 101 – Using links effectively

How to link betterContinuing on with our goal to help improve your wine blogging, we want to tackle an important strategy that is often avoided, typically because many people are under the false pretense that it will hurt them, but it’s quite the contrary. This simple strategy can not only bring more traffic to your site, but will also build your rankings in Google or Bing.

Text Links are words that are “hyperlinked” to another webpage, either on your own site or on someone else’s. Here’s what a hyperlink to Wine and Food Pairing looks like. The words Wine and Food Pairing are “clickable” and link to relevant content which can help the reader learn more about this subject – in this case, my site, Catavino. These invaluable links are why the internet exists. Called the “web” because of these connections, it mimics a spiderweb where the connections build and define the structure. Unfortunately, when sites do not link to others sites, they are virtually cutting themselves off from the rest of the web and isolating their content in a bubble that becomes harder and harder for people to find and explore.

Now for all the geeks crying out that I’m over simplifying the matter, you’re absolutely correct, I am. My goal is to show the wine bloggers who never link to anyone (and that list of blogs in your sidebar does not count, they are for all practical purposes useless) that by adding strategic links within their blog posts they can actually help themselves. So please bear with me, and we can all geek out a bit in the comments section below.

For the rest of you, let’s follow a few simple rules. We’ll call it the “5 Link Rule”, which ensures that you have at least 5 hyperlinks in any post you write under 500 words, where 2 of those links point to your website and 3 point to other content on the web. The links that send people away from your site must, however, go to relevant, quality content that will help the reader, not just something random because I told you to.

But wait, you say, linking to other sites doesn’t help me! Wrong. Linking to other sites is very helpful to you. Without getting too technical, when you link to another site you’re alerting them of your connection. In turn, they can choose to link back to you or visit your site. Beyond that too, it places your site in context with other similar sites.

So how do you do it? Simple. Most web editors have a button that looks like a little bit of chain link, or something that says “link”. After you highlight the appropriate text (more on this in a bit) click this link image and you will get a dialog that looks something like this: How to add a text linkWhen filling out the dialogue box, be descriptive. First, place the actual link in the first box you see above with the preceding “http://” . Without this, you will be linking to an error page and not helping your site. Second, make sure to title your link. Tell us what it links to in order to help both search engines and your readers who are on devices that need this information. Finally, do not click the “open in a new window/tab”. I know we think if people stay on our site it’s better, but this is not always the case. I don’t want new pages opening up if I don’t ask for them, and if you provide great information, I’ll make sure to come back to you. Let your readers make their own decisions!

Ok, now back to that text you highlighted to create a link. Remember my food and wine pairing link above? In that case I created a link with the words “Wine and Food Pairing”, which is descriptive and useful, but it is also very helpful to Google. Essentially, I told Google that if people want to know about Wine and Food Pairing they should look at the site I linked to because it has quality information on the subject. In addition, I’m also saying, “Hey Google, I know where to find the best content on this subject, so come to me to learn about Wine and Food Pairing too”. Now, repeat this a few hundred times, and naturally, over the lifetime of your site you’ll be considered a resource for this type of information. What you do not want to highlight and a create a link from are things that are not useful like the words “click here”.

For the same reasons above, you also want to link to your own site with keywords that are important to you. So in our case, if I want to show that posting photos on wine blogs is something I know a lot about, I’ll make sure to link those words to older posts on the subject! Now, while Google knows you’re promoting yourself, it also recognizes that you know your content better than anywhere else. And if you provide good information through these links, rather than spammy promotions, Google will begin to  value your site higher on these specific topics, which is great!

These are very quick tips, not guaranteed tips to get you listed on page 1 of Google, that will make your site a stronger resource for wine information. Also this is presented to show you some simple best practices to make sure your website fits into the wine web more effectively. Nothing here is a trick or a solution that will trump good consistent content. You need to have good material if you hope that anything I say here is going to help you!

So, before I bore you any further, I’m opening it up to questions in the comments. Remember let’s keep this general as there are better places to talk SEO techniques, but this is a good place to get the basics of how to link out of the way, and taking the first steps to being a pro-wine-blogger! :)

Cheers,

Ryan Opaz

Let me know what other blogging 101 topics you want me to cover on Wine Conversation email me: [email protected]

The Perfect Wine “App”

Day 18: Most Used AppsOne of my favorite podcasts is NPR‘s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me. Wait Wait is a weekly new’s quiz show, based out of Chicago, that invites various guests to answer a series of satirical questions.

This past week, Ev Williams of Twitter was invited onto the show as a guest, and he echoed a comment I happened to make recently when talking to a friend about wine apps for mobile. People often complain about the mundane tweets that happen on twitter, with a occasional traffic update or news item. What’s interesting is that this worked to train the users to use twitter to communicate. If you had built an app  for these “traffic updates”, people wouldn’t use it since it was not part of the way they communicated. They’d forget it’s there and therefore, not tell everyone what’s happening on the freeway.

From the Show: It turns out it has a lot of different facets, because while there’s many people doing stupid narcissistic things, that gets you to use it(twitter) on a regular basis and it gets you familiar with it. But then when you see an accident, you’re trained to tweet that you’ve just seen an accident, and suddenly that’s a useful piece of information. Whereas, if we told you that this was a program only for reporting accidents, you’d never think of it. – Ev Williams

When my friend asked, “what is the best wine app”, my response was, bluntly, that they all sucked.

I might want to clarify and say that they all suck for 99% of the population of wine drinkers. The current wine apps are all what I call “destination apps”, meaning you need to make them your destination for information you need. The truth is that we need apps that are not destinations, but rather locations were we hang out. I mentioned to him that if you want to make a wine app that works, try making a “life app” that includes wine.

For me it comes down to a few apps that already exist. Evernote: a place where I share all my wine notes and store information that I find online. I use it everyday and would feel as though I was missing an arm if I didn’t have it at the ready. It’s a tool that I use for organizing my life, and wine is one aspect of my life (shocking I know, I do enjoy other things too!). Then you have the other arm of social: Twitter, Facebook and to a growing extent Google+, all of which are places where I share my life with friends and family. Since wine is a social lubricant, it only goes to show how natural it is to talk about the various wines I’m enjoying.

I don’t want to get too detailed, but I do want to offer up a challenge to wine app creators. What we need is a lifestyle app that builds wine into its core, or an app that allows for conversations, categorizations, or amplifications of things other than wine. Do this and you’ll have an app that normal folk can relate to. I’m not saying there isn’t a place for specialist apps, each discipline needs these, but they are not going to grow an audience much bigger than the niche they are built for.

Till soon,

Ryan Opaz

Read the full transcript of Ev Williams on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me 

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