Tag Archive - food

New Wikio ranking for wine and beer

Drive By: Liquor, Wine, Beer
Image by karmablue via Flickr

Gastronomes no more, it seems wine and beer bloggers have something to cheer and cry over at the same time.

Starting this month (July 2009), Wikio, the news site, has decided to split its previous ranking of top “Gastronomy” blogs into separate food and wine & beer rankings. It means it will be easier to spot closely related blogs, but I must admit some fondness for the previous practice that helped to bring food & wine (& beer) blogs together where they should be (see a previous post here).

So, without further ado, here is advanced notice of the top 25 Wine & Beer blogs in the UK & Ireland for July, but remember to read on below for some thoughts and Wikio’s answers to some of my questions:

1 Spittoon
2 Brew Wales
3 Pete Brown’s Blog
4 jamie goode’s wine blog
5 The Wine Conversation
6 Stonch’s Beer Blog
7 Tandleman’s Beer Blog
8 Pencil & Spoon
9 Sour Grapes
10 Bubble Brothers
11 Bibendum Wine
12 Bordeaux-Undiscovered
13 Drinking Outside The Box
14 Bordoverview Blog
15 Tyson’s Beer Blog
16 Robert Francis Wine
17 Irish Wine Contemplations
18 Barry’s Wine Notes & Memories
19 Burgundy-Report
20 Taking the beard out of beer!

Ranking by Wikio.

First to some initial thoughts & reactions:

  • Wine 13: Beer 7 (not a bad balance)
  • There are at least 3 “merchants” represented in this list. These businesses have achieved a respectable balance of selling their own products and providing interesting and useful content, making them amongst the top wine and beer blogs. Well done folks!
  • Several of these blogs in wine and beer are written not just by enthusiasts, but by journalists and authors with traditional media credentials (Jamie Goode, Simon Woods, Peter Brown, Tandleman and Melissa Cole). The cross over to new media channels will hopefully be good for them, for the quality of content in the blogosphere and certainly for readers everywhere.
  • Now that food blogs have been taken out, we are left with just one female voice in this ranking, Melissa Cole at Take the Beard out of Beer! (what’s wrong with beards anyway?). That seems a little unbalanced.

If you’ve any more thoughts on the table, do let me know. Congratulations to those who figure in this launch report.

A Wikio Q&A:

So, what do I make of it in general? I had a few questions going round my head, so I sent them to Wikio, and here are some answers:

Q1: What is the most important factor in assessing a blog’s “Ranking”? Traffic? Links? Subscribers? What sort of things should bloggers focus on to raise their profile?

For our ranking the position of a blog depends on the number and weight of the incoming links from other blogs. We count dynamic links, which means backlinks or links found within articles. So blogrolls and the like are not taken into account. Also the weight of any given link increases according to how recently it was published. The weight of a link also depends on the linking blog’s position in the Wikio ranking.

I must admit I think that link measures might be a little “self-serving”, indicating what other bloggers are reading, not what the readers are actually looking for, but I understand that as a machine-measures it works to some extent (it is important to Google for example).

In terms of raising your blog’s profile, therefore, it is more effective to be noticed by other bloggers, by leaving comments on their blogs, contacting them, working with them, etc. rather than employing traditional marketing techniques to build readership. Ultimately, if your content is good, I expect other bloggers will link to it anyway, but it does make you realise that ranking is still a schoolyard “popularity” contest to some extent.

Q2: How do you measure subscriber data? Is this not biased by including feeds to other networking sites (e.g. friendfeed)?

We do not measure subscriber data or traffic, just incoming links. We chose this as a means of measuring the most well-referenced blogs rather than necessarily the most widely read. Bloggers know the other blogs and discussions in their sphere of interest better than anyone, so a link from a fellow blogger is, we feel, a strong endorsement.

Again, it is a shame that ‘real’ indicators cannot be used for ranking. A blog’s subscribers and their loyalty over time, would be very strong measures of how ‘good’ a website really was at delivering value to its readers rather than how good it was at including content others might link to. However, I do prefer that it is not included until a reliable and accurate way is found to gather the same information for all blogs.

Q3: Does including a weighting for links from other top blogs not entrench a hierarchy and act as a barrier to new blogs?

Well it is not the case that a link from the blog in 4th place is worth more than the one in 5th place. Just that one from a blog in the Top 100 is worth more than one from 101st – 1000th. So the degree to which this affects the rankings is actually quite low, and is more intended to combat spam at the lower end.

The idea behind this more general principle is just that blogs that are higher up are generally more active and are more likely to have a better acquaintance with the subject matter, so they are more likely to link to things that are worthwhile. But as I said in practice this weighting does not make a huge difference and is actually pretty light. And it only takes effect on the first 100, then the next 900, then the next 9000 blogs etc.

What is more important and accorded a more calculated weighting is how recent an incoming link is.

I understand the need to filter out the spammers and aggregators. I still think that valuing a link from a subset of blogs creates an in-crowd that does work, in some way, to keep others out, but if the weighting is low, I suppose the overall effect will be minimal. I’d also like to see how well that system works as I have found sites like technorati to offer questionable statistics these days that vary from one week to the next.

Q4: Who really cares about rankings? Does it add value for bloggers or readers, or just drive even more traffic to those who are already successful? Is this just about vanity for bloggers?

The aim of the rankings is more just to provide an easy way for people to find quality blogs on a given subject. But of course we’re happy if people take pride in their position :)

Q5: What innovations does Wikio offer, or plan to offer, that would engage bloggers in these rankings – or is this just reporting and should we just get on with our blogging?

In fact, we are aiming to introduce a new feature so I’m glad you ask this! We would like to introduce expert bloggers in each field to help us enrich and maintain the rankings (and hopefully launch more new ones, too). We have just published something about this on our blog: http://blog.wikio.com/uk/2009/07/wikios-experts.html

We’d like anyone who is interested to contact us on info AT wikio DOT co DOT uk

I’m sure I missed lots of questions, but if you have any of your own, let me know and I’ll pass them on.

So, if nothing else, I urge you to not just read but to include links to your favourite blogs in your next posts, particularly to help support those who are starting out and are not yet in the top 100.

Of course, links back to this post would be MOST appreciated too :)

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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
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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Ooh! I’m all a-twitter [updated]

I’ve finally gathered myself together enough to be able to post a round up of last night’s Live Twitter Tasting & marathon food matching adventure.

It was a real experience!

First, I need to thank my key partner-in-crime; Andrew (wine_scribbler). Andrew was the one who had received the Hugel & Fils samples in the first place, and also the one to come up with the ideas for the food matching menu (below). Thanks so much!

So, the story: The second edition of the Twitter Live Tasting took place last night as planned, and as we European participants had to wait until midnight for the tasting we thought we’d do it over dinner and tweet later. So Mex helped me to put together a stellar line-up of social media savvy guests to join the fun. We all wrote our thoughts separately and compared notes later – hard work, but fun.

[click here for more photos - thanks everyone!]

So, to the matches and my thoughts:
1. Hugel Tradition Gentil (aka Les Fleurs d’Alsace) 2006
Match: Scallops pan fried with white wine, ginger, garlic and chilli
The Gentil was a “palate tingling” experience. An interesting complexity of fruit flavours and a crisp finish that partnered very well with the delicate, yet spicy dish. Excellent!

2. Hugel Tradition Pinot Blanc 2006
Match: Red Onion or Asparagus Tarts with baby leaf salad (I bought these, I must admit)
I must admit that this was my least favourite of the wines as I found the nose and the palate rather muted. However, the wine coped incredibly well with the lovely tarts despite the egg, and in fact was all the better for the food match. Not bad but there was better to come, and I think there was a consensus to this effect between all of us.

3. Hugel Tradition Gewürztraminer 2006

Match: Fois Gras Mi Cuit with toast and fig chutney
The foie gras was lovely, and worked well with the Fig chutney. However, the Gewurtztraminer, with its rich, spicy, ginger and wild honey flavours, amplified things further. This wine and match was the star of the night I think. Interesting that the Gewurtz would be selected by those who had never drunk it before as you’d expect it to be one of the most challenging as it is SO different to the Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio most UK drinkers are used to. I found this very inspiring and I look forward to sharing more unusual varieties with my friends in future. 5-star excellence!

4. Hugel Riesling Jubilee 2004
Match: Pork Medallions with Mustard Mash, Apples and Cider Reduction
I’m afraid I made everyone wait for this as I had been busy eating and drinking and not preparing, but it turned out OK and I’m grateful for my patient guests. The Riesling divided the table. Those of us who are familiar with Riesling, and the uniqueness of Alsatian Riesling in particular, I think really enjoyed it’s “petrol”, floral and hints of something rubbery and spicy at the same time. A classic Riesling for me. However, some were not as fond of this, and found some of these aromatics a little off-putting. I can understand that, but I have hopes that over time they’ll come around. The wine was very good, but maybe I should have decanted it earlier as Etienne later suggested during the Live Twitter, however it matched the dishes rich reduction and hints of sweetess well.

5. Hugel Gewürztraminer Vendage Tardive 2001
Match: Coconut Maccaroons [supposed to be accompanied with fruit salad]
By this stage the final train home loomed, so we missed the salad and jumped straight into the wine. Gorgeous wild flower honey richness and wonderful cleansing acidity and superb length. This was a great wine.


Once the others ran off to their train and get home in time to participate (what stamina!), Andrew and I logged in to join the simultaneous tasting across the world. I know I chatted with people across the US, Spain, South America (?) and even China (hi there StrongTiger).

We did attempt a live video chat too with Yahoo Live! which was an absolute disaster, although amusing at times as we attempted to communicate without audio using signs and whiteboards. I’ll never do THAT again. Apologies to all those who were forced to listen to me alone as it seems I was the only one with working audio.

Lots of comments, feedback, differing views on wines and questions for Etienne which I think he handled pretty well considering the time delays and the occasional Twitter Fail Whale.

I will attempt to post some of the conversation here in a few days – I’m working with some friends on a solution.

A bit of chaotic fun and hopefully a bit of encouragement for readers out there to try some Alsatian wines with a variety of foods.

Twitter was a very important ingredient in this event, but not, I guess, in the way we might have expected.

Everyone wanted to experience this sort of event using Twitter, and this alone brought people on board who might not be as interested in wine alone. It also meant we could let people know about it, reach out to get more participants, build some excitement and coordinate our events. But the actual tasting on Twitter is a little too chaotic and complicated by refresh delays and limited space.

I wonder whether in future we need a separate platform alongside Twitter to conduct the Q&A section of the tasting, using Twitter to reach out to a broader audience?

Other, more personal ‘learnings’:
1. I need to plan the food more in advance so I can join in the conversations and not keep running away
2. We need to organise a separate UK/European edition at a more convenient time so more of our followers who cannot taste the wines themselves can follow the event
3. Mex knows EVERYONE! If in doubt, ask her for advice
4. Get more Moo cards! They are such a conversation topic of nothing else

Thank you ever so much to:
Andrew [Review 1], [Review 2]
Niamh [Review]
Lea [Review]
Kai [Review]
Annie [Review]
Sandrine [Review]
Jeremy [Review]
Lolly [Review]
James [Review]

And of course, a BIG thank you to Bin Ends Wine and Hugel & Fils for putting this event on.

See you all again soon I hope

Update 24/08/2008: I’ve added links above so you can read lots of other reaction from those present as well. Thanks everyone

Wine, Food and The Muse

You may have experienced a different tone from the posts on this site recently. I have certainly felt the difference when trying to write posts. The main reason, I believe, is that I have not been drinking any wine (with one or two extremely minor exceptions) for the last few weeks because I may need to dash off to the local maternity ward at any moment, so need to be alert.

The excitement and stressful expectation of babies aside, I find that my Vinous Muse has decided to pack her bags and head off on a brief seaside holiday in the interim, and thus my motivation for passionate discourse has abated somewhat.

I’m considering setting myself, and anyone who cares to join in, a challenge: to spend a week eating and drinking ONLY (dinner) dishes & wine matches to be found on UK blogs

Even though I do not post tasting notes on the wines I drink, these wines do inspire me with questions, to do some research or elicit some sort of reaction, and without them I feel like I am missing out on something.

Not drinking, when I normally drink a glass or two most nights, is difficult enough, but not drinking and trying to write engaging content to inspire others to do so, is even more of a torture.

All will be resolved in the next few days (I hope) and normal service resumed.

I’ve been thinking about the kinds of wine drinkers again. I wondered whether it was just me that was really not interested in food & wine matching and tasting notes, or whether there were more of us? I totally understand why one would be interested in combining food & wine writing, but I have yet to be bitten by that bug.

I’m considering setting myself, and anyone who cares to join in, a challenge: to spend a week eating and drinking ONLY (dinner) dishes & wine matches to be found on UK blogs (it must be a blog!). It will require a lot more pre-planning and shopping than I’m used to, but it could be fun and I might learn to appreciate the art more.

Any suggestions on sites to use as sources gratefully appreciated. I already have my friends as Spittoon and Cooksister as inspiration. Any others?

(pictured: my attempt at food & wine matching)

The Wine Conversation a proud supporter of both the 2008 American Wine Bloggers Conference and European Wine Bloggers Conference

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