So, do wine bloggers have any idea what wines others should drink, or are they just good at telling us about the stuff they like?
I have to admit to being very afraid of the idea of being responsible for choosing wines for other people I do not know. The idea of being a “Wine Buyer” would mean I would never sleep again. I love wine. I love drinking it, sharing it, talking about it and learning about it. I enjoy how it impacts on the world, and generally changes it for the better. But I do not know whether YOU will like any particular wine or not. Building a business that requires such certainty seems hard to me.
I was very impressed and intrigued, therefore, to see that 6 of my fellow UK wine bloggers got together with Oddbins to create a selection of wines for the rest of us to enjoy so I just had to buy a case.
The basic story is on the Oddbins Wine Bloggers Case page, but you should also read any of the bloggers’ own articles linked below.
In summary, the six bloggers had access to an entire Oddbins shop for the task of selecting 12 bottles, one red, one white, each, for a case that would cost no more than £100 (including delivery). A tough but enjoyable challenge.
So, I had two simple questions:
1. Is this a “good idea”?
2. Are the choices any good?
What a Good Idea!
To answer the first, I have to say that I admire bloggers who do innovative things and who are prepared to push boundaries.
Consumers would benefit from buying “taster” cases that helped them discover new wines and, bought in some volume, would also make them slightly more affordable. This may be the excuse they were waiting for.
Too often, the wines recommended on blogs and articles are hard to then find & buy, so making them immediately available (and deliverable) is a great encouragement for consumers to buy. This is one of the strongest points of online wine content.
The marketing has also been well done – Integrated Communications, at last!
- There is a dedicated page on the Oddbins online site.
- They’ve created memorable cartoons and images to bring the “online” personas to life
- They’ve included the bloggers’ own wine reviews, including food matching ideas
- The case came with the full information sheet
- The bloggers themselves have kept the profile of the promotion high
Finally, I also think it is important that bloggers (of all industries) find ways to make money from their online activity because I know very well how much work it involves and how hard it is to make money from this without resorting to dubious internet marketing practices.
We ALL benefit
If wine bloggers could prove that they can identify great wines, and help to get them into the hands of consumers, we ALL benefit – producers, bloggers, retailers and consumers. If bloggers are adding benefit, then they do deserve a share of the “value” created, and they can start to make some money from what they do, creating great wine stories. There is nothing wrong with making a living.
There’s only one slight criticism. In the interests of transparency, considering this is a “showcase” (pun intended), I was surprised not to read more about whether the bloggers were actually benefitting financially from this. For the reasons listed above, I think it would be great if trusted bloggers could work with retailers and wineries. I also do not want to see hard work, and great ideas like this, benefit only some and not others, and I am sure those involved actually had costs to make this happen.
Two bloggers did make some reference to this which is great, though it is still a touchy subject, but sometimes openness is the best policy. I do not believe that any readers would object, but we do need to take the ammunition away from critics.
“Since picking the case, we have agreed with Oddbins that they would contribute to our expenses, on a tiny amount for each case sold. While I hope the case flies off the shelves, I won’t be giving up the day job any time soon. Then again, that’s not why I got involved.” - SipSwooshSpit
“So all that remains is for people to buy it and let us know what they think – I say this not for the pocket-money commission levels, but because this is an opportunity for us to engage in a conversation about these wines and I would love to know what people think about them.” – The Cambridge Wine Blogger
I am CERTAIN that if they are making anything it is not substantial, and it will not have influenced their choices of wines. However, from a disclosure point of view, this one would be useful for them all to have done. Having said that, it is a minor quibble form someone keen to make sure this goes well and helps more bloggers and wine businesses.
I hope it DOES fly off the shelves and that they do start to make some money! So of course I did my bit and bought my case.
The REAL test. Were the wines they chose interesting and likely to get consumers to come back and buy more?
Well, since I have decided not to use this site to share tasting notes, I will have to leave you guessing a little longer. However, I will be adding my tasting notes to my personal site (where I do review wines from time to time) as I go through the case. You can follow along here:
Tasting the Bloggers’ Wine Selection from Oddbins on thirstforwine.co.uk
At first glance the prospects are good. I already know, and like, a couple of the wines. The selection is varied and covers many styles, prices and countries. Here is the list (as provided by Spittoon.biz:
The Oddbins Bloggers Case White Wine Selection
- Casa Lluch Verdil 2010, Valencia, Spain
- Raimat Abadia White 2010, Costers del Segre, Spain
- Sal’mon Groovey Grüner Veltliner 2010, Kremstal, Austria
- Domaine la Condamine L’Evêque Viognier 2010, Côtes de Thongue, France
- Stone Rock Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Bordeaux, France
- Porter Mill Station Chenin Blanc 2011, Svartland, South Africa
The Oddbins Bloggers Case Red Wine Choices
- Domaine de l’ Arnesque 2009, Côtes du Rhône, France
- Alma de Tinto Mencia 2010, Galacia, Spain
- Henry Fessy Morgon 2009, Cru du Beaujolais, France
- Chateau Haute Galine 2009, Minervois, France
- Terre di Sava, 10 Nero Salice Salentino 2010, Puglia, Italy
- Fully Loaded Grenache-Shiraz 2008, McClaren Vale, Australia
I congratulate Oddbins on the coup, and Tara, David, Paola, Tom, Belinda and Andrew for making it happen. I wonder if we will see similar things happen in the UK and beyond?
Tom Lewis “The Cambridge Wine Blogger”: The Oddbins Bloggers’ Case
David Lowe “BigPinots”: The Merry Band of Bloggers
Belinda Stone “Miss Bouquet”: We’re on the case with Oddbins Literally
Andrew Barrow “Spittoon”: Oddbins Bloggers Case
Paola Tich “SipSwooshSpit”: Six Go Mad in Oddbins
Tara Devon O’Leary “Wine Passionista”: The Oddbins Wine Bloggers’ Case is Here