Tag Archive - wine

Social media challenges

Despite the lack of updates on this blog, I have actually been working feverishly on interesting wine-blog-related projects over the last few weeks, so much so that I have rather neglected this place. Here are just a few of those projects – they are a lot of fun, but I also think that the participants, including myself, and the wine business, are learning a lot from them too.

L’Anima wine challenge

I’ve been working with this amazing Italian restaurant to help shed a little light on Italian wines, grape varieties and also into the process of adding wines to a wine list. For more details, check out the wine social media site I put together for the #lanima project with Gal Zohar, sommelier at L’Anima and Dan Coward from Bibendum.

Tesco Wine Fair

Working with video is fun and useful, but this is a very different medium and experience makes a big difference – both in front of and behind the camera. I am working with a friend of mine at double-barrelled.tv to learn more about this. This week we made our first attempt on behalf of Castillo San Lorenzo for a Tesco Wine Fair promotion.

European Wine Bloggers Conference & #ddmsummit (Drinks and Digital Marketing Summit)

Lots of developments in the planning of the EWBC, a project I am VERY excited about this year, but in part because of this, I have now also been invited to share my thoughts on the influence and potential of social media (or Digital Marketing) for the WHOLE drinks industry, not just wine, at the #ddmsummit being put together by Cube and The Drinks Business. More on this soon.

Young, foodish and coffee loving

Coffee at Monmouth

Coffee at Monmouth

Just back from a great chat with Dan Young (aka @youngandfoodish), author of several books including Coffee Love: 50 ways to drink your java, and blogger at YoungandFoodish.

I really wanted to meet him and pick his brains about where to start my exploration of Coffee Culture as it relates to Wine Culture, but as with all these meetings, nothing stays on topic for long and we discussed wine, retail, weddings, photography, The Wire, video, culture and more. I love the fact that twitter, and social media in general, allows me to meet such diverse people and start a conversation so readily. I love the fact that we all have experts at hand who are prepared to listen to our questions.

I have lots of new ideas “brewing” and I need to “filter” them into something meaningful, but here are some general thoughts that emerged:

  • blending vs. varietals – in both wine and coffee blending is important, but does that art risk diluting the importance of the constituent varietals (grapes & beans) that can be unique, indigenous and differentiating, … or does talking about each part of that blend simply risk confusing and alienating consumers?
  • does coffee culture, particularly Down Under, owe much to the style and attitude (friendly, encouraging, fun) of the baristas more than the coffee itself? If so, is there something that sommeliers can learn from?
  • coffee and wine have both been successful at getting people to consume them – now how do we get those “consumers” to become “appreciators” and therefore take more time to taste, evaluate and enjoy?
  • does the success of a brand (in both coffee and wine) necessarily result in a decline in quality? If so, what is an optimal size to reach a wide audience without losing one’s roots? If not, how is this achieved and what can be learned?
  • coffee and wine are both, ultimately, agricultural products intricately linked with the land they come from, to the lives of those who grow the raw materials, and the struggle to make a modern, consistent and mass “product” from a less than reliable Mother Nature

Lots to ponder, and I need to learn more about where coffee comes from and the many ways it can be enjoyed. I do feel that there is a combined “Wine and Coffee” experience event in my near future. Fancy it? How do you see it working?

BTW, we had some excellent coffee at Monmouth Coffee in Borough Market. Above is a picture of two particularly nice “Flat White” coffees.

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Coffee & Wine

Expect to see a fair bit about coffee and wine over the next few weeks as I’ve “discovered” that there are a lot of similarities between the two and maybe learning about coffee will give me a different perspective on wine.

Rather than a post this time, here is an AudioBoo I posted earlier.

Listen!

If you are interested in some of the things I’m planning (even if I have not told you what these might be), leave me a comment here.

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The Wine Gang – friend or foe?

The Wine Gang

The Wine Gang

[Update: it has been pointed out that my title, written in haste, is a bit unfair. I'm not going to change it, but please treat it lightly. I was intending to jokingly refer to fear of 'gangs' not to suggest one might actually fear these lovely people :) ]

What if you were a well respected wine industry journalist or commentator and you tasted literally hundreds of wines a month, but your main paying gig (newspaper, magazine, TV show) only gave you time and space for a handful? What would you do with all the rest of those notes, impressions, events and connections?

Well, one answer is to blog about it … but I would say that! That’s a story for another post.

Another is to put them together in handy newsletter and sell it to wine lovers around the UK and the rest of the world. The problem is that the Paid Subscription model is either dead or on critical life support.

However, The Wine Gang are attempting just that. The ‘Gang’ consists of well known names such as Tom Cannavan, Olly Smith, Anthony Rose, Joanna Simon and Tim Atkin. Each month they publish a newsletter with around 200 tasting notes for an annual subscription for consumers of £20.

What marks this out for me?

It is presented in a way that is actually useful to the average consumer.

Instead of being a collection of hundreds of tasting notes of wines by some sort of ‘theme’ like region or style, these tasting notes are arranged by retailer or importer. They are grouped so that you can reasonably put together a shopping list of wines to try and have some chance of actually getting them easily, and they also recognise this by making the report printable so you can take it to the shops with you.

Ultimately, unless you are a real wine fanatic, you want what you read about on the internet to educate and inform your own drinking, so it really ought to be focused on what you can buy – or at least let you know where you can source it.

The Wine Gang newsletter also includes a few handy summaries in their different “Bunches of 5” lists from each newsletter, which not only has the usual ‘best’ groups, it rather unusually also includes “This month’s shockers” – always a favourite read of mine.

I do have a few issues with the site;

  • It brings together some of the top wine communicators in the UK and all we get is one article and the tasting notes. Where is the personality?
  • There is little interaction with readers. In this era of ‘social media’ it feels old-fashioned and aloof
  • In a market like the UK that is very price-driven, it needs to communicate better how the “investment” in a subscription can be repaid
  • It would benefit from a broader range of content such as audio, video and images to bring the content to life
  • The site, and its contents, are not well publicised enough and are hidden from the main ways that consumers will find it – search engines

The question is whether consumers will be prepared to part with their cash for a newsletter when so much similar content is available free?

That remains to be seen, but I think that if the personalities behind the site could step forward a bit more, it would have a reasonable chance.

It does, once again, raise the interesting question: What is a Tasting Note worth?

I will try to address that question shortly.

Disclaimer: Several of the members of The Wine Gang are personal friends as well as colleagues. I have worked in collaboration with The Wine Gang in a professional capacity, and will be sponsoring an upcoming promotion, but these are my personal views and I have been a paid subscriber of the newsletter since the first edition.

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Interactive wine tasting

TwitCam Wine Tasting

TwitCam Wine Tasting

I was playing with a new service on twitter call TwitCam that allows you to create a video broadcast and then let people know, and chat, via Twitter.

It was fun broadcasting a wine tasting LIVE.

My first video was meant only as a response to a question, but it encouraged some feedback from others who tried to interact, so I thought I would do another and ask for interaction. I decided to run a wine tasting, not as a “presentation” (as most wine videos are), but as an interactive event, getting guesses on the wine from participants – a double blind tasting*.

The results can now be seen on the archived video here (or click on the image). I am not embedding it here as it starts playing automatically, which can get annoying.

We are only just starting to explore the possibilities of  bringing together different services such as twitter, blogging, video and audio. This is what can make communication and learning fun. Not just for wine, but in many fields. It is not a lecture, but a way to reach out to a lot more people around the globe and make friends.

If you participated or left comments later, thank you so much! I had great fun. So much so I’m planning on doing it again next week.

See you Thursday, 6th of August at 16:00 UK time (please check what that would be for you).

* a tasting where one person has to guess the wine based only from another person’s notes – who themselves doesn’t know what the wine is. Except I did. Hard to hide it from yourself really.

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