Joel Vincent

Technology. Wine. Family. (maybe not in that order)

Is a Blog right for Tasting Notes?

There are lots of brand new, bouncing baby wine blogs coming around these days and I read a pretty large amount of wine tasting notes posted in the wine blogsphere. I really enjoy many of the reviews. Its basis for the weekly Juice Roundup where I post the reviews I’ve read in the blogsphere. The best sounding notes I forward to Kelly and we may pick up a bottle if we feel up to it. Most of this reading is made possible by my RSS aggregator – Mosaic’s Thunderbird – because I can get them all in one place at the same time. But as I was reading some of these blogs I began to wonder – is a wine blog the best way to keep tasting notes?

The objective of personal tasting notes is to help you remember the wine that you tasted exactly at the time that you experienced it. That way when a new vintage comes out you can remember what you thought of the previous vintage. Or if you had a super classic wine you can remember as much detail as possible for posterity. It’s a reference, essentially, of your wine life for you to look back on and have that touchstone to know what wines you have enjoyed and may enjoy in the future.

So one has to think about that when using a blog for tasting notes. A blog is defined as “a shared on-line journal where people can post diary entries about their personal experiences and hobbies”. The postings are generally chronological and, as it states, forms a timeline of events. Some blogs are re-purposed to be magazine like with a community of posters (my favorites are Engadget and Gizmodo) and this works well because rather than monthly or weekly or even daily magazines they are damn near real-time.

But to use a wine blog for publishing tasting notes doesn’t necessarily seem to be the best idea for filing them. Blogging this way leaves little to reference them by beyond just date. Indexing your blog with a search engine will make the notes searchable and that helps but does it really do a better job than, say, a Word document at that point? One thing it does do is stroke your ego and show off your oenophile-ness to the whole world. But not everyone is going to sift through the myriad of wine blog/tasting notes reading them all. The bottom line on wine blog/tasting notes is that unless you really have a big readership that follows your wine recommendation like you’re a mini-Robert Parker (who, after all, started out just publishing his wine tasting notes in what was thought to be a “goofy” newsletter way back when), you really could be doing yourself a big disservice using a blog for your tasting notes. Again, I am a big reader of blog tasting notes so if any bloggers are reading this then keep them coming. Its just that with all the wine bloggers coming online, there will soon be a massive jumble of tasting notes with no relative measurements (i.e. no way to relate them to each other) and your notes could likely just get lost in the tidal wave. And if that happens then even the “ego-stroking” that everyone enjoys every now and then will be gone. Hell, if you want ego stroking then you might as well participate in a forum like because A) they’ll give you instant feedback on your note and B) you’re doing it to educate others on a “new wine” you found and a forum is better for that anyway.

So we’re back to you using your blog as a way to keep track of your personal wine tasting experiences. In order to look back at the notes you probably want your technological tool for wine tasting notes to be reference-able by more than simply date or searching on Key Words in the description. You probably want to look for California Cabernets from 1994 or you can’t remember something beyond “it started with an ‘O’ and had a really great year 3 or 4 or 5 years ago…”. In this case a blog as a tasting journal really isn’t going to help you. I think VineSugar has this figured out. The answer is you need a database application that can be referenced from any angle. That was the original purpose of a database, not a blog. If your not as saavy with the database programming as VineSugar there are outsourced services:

* Wine Democracy

The bottom line is this: if you’re looking to post your tasting notes so that others can read them and comment and ask questions and engage in an open exchange about the wines then a forum is a better fit. We all love ego stroke – I’m not knocking anyone for that, its human nature. But if you’re looking to use technology to make your personal tasting notes more easily accessible, while I certainly appreciate reading some of these notes in the blogsphere, its probably not the best tool to use for that. If you’re looking to convey your Wine Life experience – where you were, what you were doing, how that situation really enhanced your life, the crazy event you attended while you were there, kind of like….”a shared, on-line journal where [you] can post diary entries about your experiences” then a blog is most certainly for you. What ever you decide just remember to Enjoy the Wine Life…


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