The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

No, seriously, I do know a lot about wine…

It’s been about four months since I’ve actually written a post about wine.  And for a blog named “Food and WINE Hedonist,” that’s pretty lame.  So I’ve decided to change that and start actually writing about wine – grapes, regions, winemaking, tastings, reviews.  YOU NAME IT!!!  I’m going to reassert my wine prowess!


Actually, no, I’m not going to make a concerted effort to write more about wine. I just can’t.

This topic came up in the comments section to The Drunken Cyclist’s post on wineblogging.  While I do love wine, writing about it is a very personal experience.  And that’s the case with everyone else who’s ever given an opinion about wine – whether you’re Robert Parker or the guy in the gutter drinking $2 bottles of skullpopper.  It’s not like watching a movie, judging a footrace, or listening to a song – where just about everyone is going to see or hear the same exact thing.  How we perceive a wine’s bouquet, tannins, aciditiy, etc. is completely dependent on your taste buds and your smell receptor thingies all in your head. Then add in other factors like what you ate with it, expectations based on the producer’s reputation, how much you paid, and whether some jerkweed cut you off on the freeway.  All of these things have a huge impact on how you rate a wine.   And let’s not forget that whoever is describing the wine is having that wine at that moment.  Readers can’t taste it themselves and even bottles from the same batch can be subject to storage conditions.

There are no rights or wrongs when it comes to wine descriptors.  The same bottle of merlot can have aromas of cedar box to one person and chocolate to another.  Back when I took classes at the International Sommelier Guild, the instructor said it was like the Jedi mind trick.   He would say he smelled eucalyptus and old man’s underwear in a specific Shiraz and, lo and behold, everyone in the class suddenly got the same aromas.



So here’s the rub – I have no problem writing about what I perceived in a wine.  I can do that all day.  But I often wonder if it really matters to you readers.  You can’t smell that hint of barnyard I picked up on a Burgundy and do you even care?  This blog is more for entertainment than information.  Writing a wine review that is entertaining, interesting, and with broad appeal is very difficult to do for a writing hack like me.  At least for now.  I’ll still keep trying and, at some point, maybe I’ll find my “wine voice.”

But the other reason I haven’t written about wine is that I’ve actually been enjoying beer more than wine lately.  There’s been an explosion in craft beers across the country with some very interesting concoctions and collaborations.  Actually, the same can be said about bourbon, too.  It’s an exciting time to be a drinker here in America, so wine’s taken a back seat for a while.

But just to prove I do actually, in fact, drink wine, I’ve recently become a member of The Wine Century Club.



This is a club that ‘s main goal is to encourage people to try different kinds of wines besides the usual cabs, chards, or chiantis.  Anyone can be a member of the club as long as they’ve tried at least 100 different grape varieties (hence the “Century” in the name).  It’s kinda fun to go through and it’s free to join.  All you have to do is fill out their form and they’ll send you a certificate just like this…

WCent Cert


Ok, they probably won’t send one exactly like this.  Look closer…

That says “Doppel Member”.  I guess I didn’t realize this when I filled out the application, but I’ve had over 200 different varietals of wine.  According to the cover letter, there are about 1,300 wine century members worldwide and just 58 of them are Doppel Members.

See? I told you I drink wine.

So what do you think?  If you’re a casual wine drinker, does it matter to you what I perceived in a wine?   Or are you just looking for a thumbs-up/thumbs-down?  And if you’re a wine blogger, am I way off base?

About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

21 comments on “No, seriously, I do know a lot about wine…

  1. harmonystable
    May 15, 2013

    it is not so much the wine as it is the way you write about it…that’s why i devour wine blogs, for the storytelling primarily. finding a new wine to try or a new way to pair it is a bonus, of course. i read wine blogs for their entertainment value because i already comprehend that the writer/taster will always be coming from a different vantage point than mine.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      May 15, 2013

      Yeah, I agree. My struggle is that I was trained to evaluate a wine in a specific way and I still like that. It’s pretty informative in terms of it’s structure and thoroughness. Problem is that it’s just not that interesting when I actually write it down. At least I think it’s boring. But maybe I should just keep writing them because maybe it’s just me that finds it boring… Thanks for stopping by!!

    • michaeljfoxreviews
      May 16, 2013

      I agree. Like a good singer writers MUST stay true to how they write not try to be someone else !! just my opinion 🙂 not bad though!!

  2. the winegetter
    May 15, 2013

    I do think you have a point for sure. But just like Harmonystable said, it is what a reader does take into account when reading a wine review. When I get familiar with someone’s writing about wine, when I get a feel how that person “works”, I can glean some information from a wine review. I will always want to try the wine myself, but it can give me ideas what to try. I also tend to mix up my reviews with some background information or connect the wine or winery to my life story, and I think that can make it interesting for readers, too.

    But I am also aware that I write these reviews as much for myself as for my readers. And in the niche I am in, I think I can help make Riesling more appealing. At least I hope I can…

    • harmonystable
      May 15, 2013

      “…connect the wine or winery to my life story…” exactly! that is what keeps me reading.

      • thefoodandwinehedonist
        May 15, 2013

        Oliver – I see your point and you do a terrific job bringing in the background and bringing it to life. I think I need to develop my niche and relate how each wine remind is like a gorgeous actress or something like that.

  3. The best advice I’ve heard about wine is “Drink what you like. It doesn’t matter what it costs.” I would have a difficult time buying a bottle of wine over $50 – to me that seems extravagant and I wouldn’t enjoy the bottle because I’m more concerned over what I paid for it. The wines I be with regularity fall between $8-15 a bottle. Are very drinkable, pleasant and go over well with friends. That’s all that matters.

  4. thewineraconteur
    May 15, 2013


  5. the drunken cyclist
    May 15, 2013

    I struggle with this all the time. There seems to be a bit of a “standard” in wine writing and if you are not getting “hints of jasmine” or “notes of eucalyptus root” you are simply an amateur and will never be taken seriously as a “wine writer”. Perhaps needless to say, I think that is a bunch of bull puckey (and perhaps why I am not taken all that seriously). I try to limit my “notes” to more general aspects: level/intensity of “fruit”, balance, acidity. Well, then all the notes sound exactly the same. So, I get a bit stuck. I end up trying to focus on the stories around the wine–be it consumption or production–and try to find something funny or interesting to write. Sometimes it works, often it doesn’t. Too many out there seem to be far too formulaic or cutesy and that drives me crazy….

  6. acrusteaten
    May 15, 2013

    You know about wine in a way that the normal person (i.e. me) doesn’t. I read wine posts by you and by The Winegetter because you are informed and knowledgeable and I’m hoping to learn something from you that will inform my wine drinking, even if it’s just where a certain variety of grape is majorly grown. I am also entertained when you connect the wines to real life (although I haven’t quite figured out how to do that in my wine posts) and given ideas of things to try and just generally broadening my knowledge. Yes, I care what you smell and taste, because it’s interesting, even if it’s not what I might smell and taste if I tried that same wine. I don’t know if anyone reads my wine or beer posts for the ‘content’ – which really is just what I think as an average person enjoying a beverage – but I do it, as The Winegetter said, for myself, to help myself become a better blogger and a better wine drinker. Do it if you like to do it. If not, don’t. If and when you do, we’ll be here to read it!

  7. domingosaurus
    May 15, 2013

    I unfortunately cannot even drink wine. Well, I can, but every time I have done so in the past few years I have been left in agony. Most likely this is due to something called Acid Re-flux disease, but since I won’t go to the doctor I’ll probably never know for sure. So I simply stay away from things that seem to cause my stomach to hurt; like wine, coffee, and bleach. I stick with beer, or White Russians. And I will admit, (with no shame whatsoever) that I started drinking them because of The Dude, but I have continued drinking them because I like them.

    Still, I enjoy reading about wine. For one thing I am a sucker for history, and wine lore is steeped in regional history that I find very fascinating, especially when it is well written or, even more importantly, if there is some humor involved.

    Which is why of course I like your posts so much. So keep writing them, and write about whatever the hell you feel like writing about.

  8. michaeljfoxreviews
    May 16, 2013

    Just a hint from your fans, check out the Lodi, CA area in Northern California. BAD ASS ! just FYI Thank U

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  11. armchairsommelier
    May 16, 2013

    Timely discussion. This link popped up in my Facebook feed last week. It seems to have struck a nerve with some folks.

    I take wine writing more tongue in cheek — God knows I’ve grabbed an adjective or two out of thin air when writing a wine review! At the end of the day, wine and writing about wine is subjective . . . to everyone’s very different palates. My Nirvana wine might be your nails-on-a-chalkboard wine.

    One of the reasons, if not THE reason I write any wine reviews at all is because I drink a lot of wine, and I was drinking without thinking. I found myself immediately deciding thumbs up or thumbs down on a wine . . . without giving any thought to WHY I liked it (or didn’t). So I try to identify something about a wine that makes it special or memorable. I look for the same when reading other wine reviews. I’ve tried some wines I wouldn’t have even thought about trying because of other wine reviews. But I don’t buy wine based solely on someone else’s reviews.

    Bottomline for me? Drink what you like . . . but always be willing to try something new. Salud!

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      May 16, 2013

      Yes, absolutely great idea to document why you like a wine. I suppose same goes with writing the post – I should do it for my benefit. Thx!

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