Breaking Blog at The Wine Beat

Change is Good.

There are some big changes afoot at The Wine Beat right now – your timing in joining us is impeccable! We are re-launching The Wine Beat website and expanding the offering with new streams of content.  We’ll come back to the new content a bit later but, to start with, there is something else I would like to talk about to celebrate the moment. I would like to talk about myself. I’ve got some things to get off my chest and I think you deserve to know something about how we arrived at this point. What series of events propelled and steered us to be spending time together here? After all, we might have taken a different fork in the road and be somewhere completely different at this moment. Like the movie Sliding Doors but without Gwyneth Paltrow.

Peristalsis on The Wine Trail

As a starting point, is it just me or do you perhaps also have an aversion to the word “blog”?  Isn’t it automatically a bit hard to take a written piece seriously when it is called a “blog”? In the “1001 Wine Regions” section of the website I’ve made an effort to call the posts “Articles”.  But whenever I talk to people about the written posts on the website they always say: “OK, you are doing blogs”. Or: “That’s interesting, you’ve added blogging to the site”. Maybe I’m just behind the times and the blog has become so much of an established type of journalism that it doesn’t really carry the stigma of a home-made project. Regardless, I still have this slightly awkward feeling about writing “blogs”.  By giving this post the title “Breaking Blog” I am forcing myself to come to grips with the word blog. I’m coming to terms with the fact that posts like this one, whether I love the word or not, are mostly known to people as blogs.

By the way, I should make it clear that I really admire the work of many bloggers and I don’t want to sound like I’m being critical of the blogging of others. The medium of the blog has permitted an incredible amount of first-rate content to be published. It’s just that “blog” sounds a bit like something you vomited up – as though you had a peristaltic reaction and, suddenly, a bunch of words came piling out. Then, having survived that convulsion – what the hell – you had another reaction and were seized by the compulsion to post the product on a website.

Podcasts, wine region blogs and wine travel at the Wine Beat

For the Love of Podcasts

The Wine Beat had its genesis as my experiment with the world of podcasting.  And the Wine Beat podcasts are still, to me, the heart of the project.  There are a few reasons why I particularly love the podcast part of the content.  One of them is because I just love how a podcast can almost produce itself.  Find a wine personality who enjoys talking about what they do, turn on the recorder and – presto – an hour later you have 95% of what you need to publish a pure and true insight into the wine world.  Also, I think podcasts are a truly revolutionary form of education and entertainment – so it feels good to contribute something to the medium.

It’s still not entirely clear to me why I felt motivated to start a wine podcast in the first place. It partly arose, I think, as a way to blow off some wine energy and to find a creative outlet.  More concretely, part of the motivation was because I saw a shortage of the kind of material I would like to listen to: informative podcasts that are neither too technical nor too much like a chatty radio show nor too focused on high-priced wines. I thought it would be nice to have people in the wine industry give a first-hand insight into wine regions, wine varieties and winemaking techniques. And for them to do it in a way that just about any wine lover would find fascinating and useful. And I wanted the podcasts to be about the place where the wine is made. A travel experience in audio format seemed like a really nice package.

Podcasts are an amazing medium – accessible but incredibly powerful

Attention Deficit on The Wine Trail

Of course, once you give a person a platform (or a soap box to stand on) they might just have the tendency to stray around and go off-piste if they aren’t hyper-disciplined.  In my case I started writing wine region articles (or blogs) that leverage off the travel I was doing to record podcasts. I call that series of articles “1001 Wine Routes” in recognition that the world has an almost unlimited number of incredible wine regions and wine travel destinations.  As a result, I ended up with two content streams on The Wine Beat website: the podcasts and the wine region blogs. 

Then I realized there is a whole world of wine travel information that I would like to explore and share but that doesn’t fit nicely into the “1001 Wine Routes” format.  So I’ve created a third stream of content called “Dispatches” (where this blog resides).  In this section of The Wine Beat site you will find articles on people, cities, artists, wine bars, restaurants, wine shops and all sorts of other fascinating things connected in some way with wine and travel.  

I love working with vines – my back not so much!

Here We Are Now

Now here we are together. I’m sincerely indebted to you for joining me for the re-launch of The Wine Beat. I am always grateful to know that people are tuning in and listening or reading. To be frank, a lot of effort goes into this and I’m feeling good about the improved website and more coherent structure.  The layout, the look and feel and the mix of content works well to my mind. Nevertheless, it’s hard to tell how the audience and visitors to the site really feel. Anyone undertaking a project like this is going to have a bit of neurosis about how others will react to their work. After all, you are not going to record podcasts or write wine blogs unless you think they have some merit.

But what will people really think?  You have to be concerned about your legacy. In the end, will my kids say: “He was a flawed man – he suffered from red/green colour blindness and was a wine blogger”? Or will Hugh Johnson or Jancis Robinson invite me over for dinner? We will see….some times you just have to plug your nose and go!

With all of that in mind, I hope you take a minute to send me a note with your impressions and feedback.  I will be so glad to hear from you that I will respond almost immediately (I’m just that keen!). Many thanks for coming with me on the journey. My email is [email protected]

Postscript – History of The Blog

Here is a bit of history of the blog – a noble and worthy form of communication!

  • The first blog was created in 1994 by Justin Hall, a college student.  It was called links.net 
  • At that time the word “blog” had not yet been created and Justin just called it a home page. 
  • In 1997 the term “weblog” was coined, apparently by Jorn Barger. He wrote a blog called Robot Wisdom and he referred to the process as “logging the web”. 
  • Peter Merholz thought it was humorous to chance the word weblog to “we blog” and thus a verb was created.  
  • Evan Williams popularized the use of the verb form “to blog” and called the person who blogs a “blogger”  
  • 5 years later Merriam Webster declared “blog” their word of the year”.

 In the end, I guess that if Merriam Webster can include “blog” in the dictionary then I should be able to reconcile myself to it too.

While you are here, check out “The Best Wine Shop in The World”

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