Writers Block for a Wine Reviewer

Writers block comes in a number of forms for serious writers.  It can be lack of ideas, stress, being unhappy with ones writing, or a lack of  validation (self mostly).  For a wine reviewer there can be another reason, wine failure.  By this I don’t mean really bad,horrid wines but going down a tasting road that simply doesn’t warrant writing about.  That’s where you will find me at the moment.  I am not finding a lot of wine that I find interesting enough to want to write about.

At the moment I am forcing myself to write and post simply because I owe it to myself to keep the tools sharp and to my readers to keep them in the loop.  A while back I got a reply from one of my good friends, Jeff,  who I’ve known on-line for, I guess at least two years, reminding me that I was getting tunnel vision and focusing too much of my reviewing on NakedWines.com wine (which I pretty universally like) and not reaching out into the market place to sources where “non-NakedWine angels could access the wine.  Ironically Jeff and I met through our association with NakedWines, but I took his observations to heart.  His point, after all, hit the mark spot on; I needed some diversity to keep my reviews relevant.  So off I trudged to my wine cellar, the wine shops I frequent, the supermarket and let us not forget the Web, to see what I could find that gave me the latitude to broaden my scope and appeal to a broader audience.

My cellar yielded a few gems which due to age would be a bit pricy, the Web,  several cases (some still a bit young), and the retail wine sources a few but none that really excited my creative juices.  I write for readers who are not now, nor likely to become, wine tasting judges, or even significant collectors of really great wines.  As one of my readers described herself “I am a Grapist”, one who knows only that she likes wine occasionally and can tell the difference between a red and a white, but not a lot more.  She represents my quintessential reader, the one I  want to write for.  I want Poor Robert’s to be a fun place for Grapists, and those who know a little more about wine and their personal taste to have some fun and hopefully learn a little, in non-intimidating terms, about the world of wine, wine making, wine consumption and even a little about what wines appeal to me (emphasis here) with what foods.  I am no food and wine paring expert and all I really care about in this vein is to get people to try some food and wine and see what they like.

What does all this have to do with writers block?  Well not a lot I suppose but it does help explain mine.  With all this trove of new wines to try came a conundrum.  I grew up under the Thumper Principal (from Bambi for those of you old enough to remember) – “If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all”.  Simply I am struggling with many of the wines I selected and how to write about them in a positive way.  Somehow “ this wine is really ordinary and okay but overpriced for what you get” isn’t worth printing and fundamentally inconsistent with my upbringing.  Also wine is a funny thing, it can be off because of bad bottling, it can be corked (bacterial or fungal taint), it can simply be too young or to old, or poorly cared for (got to hot or to cold).   Slamming a wine because I didn’t like it or didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I should would be unnecessarily harmful to a winery or winemakers reputation  After all they didn’t set out to produce and average wine, they put everything they had into making it and hoped it would be a good wine.  In addition it could be just my taste buds or circumstances outside their control that lead me to not like it.  Many of my latest acquisitions have fallen into that category.  Many of them I believe are simply too young to drink right now, and a good many seem very one dimensional.  I mean by that they taste flat and don’t let me see or make me want to look for interesting flavors or textures.  I guess they don’t meet my standards for reviewable wines.

In the end I concluded the height of my standards don’t let me put a “weekly wine” label on something that I just don’t think is special.  I am not talking $200.00 per bottle, Chateaux Laffite Rothschild special, I am talking about $10.00 to $25.00 special as being a good to great value for a fun sort of wine that folks can enjoy as a sipper, with food, or just with friends on an evening out.  So here it is, When I find wines worth of “The Weekly Wine”, I’ll write about them.  In the interim you will find me working away on some of the back page of the blog, Varietals, Ordinary reviews and most of all expanding the lexicon so that wine words don’t mystify me or my readers.  I’ll also be continuing the “Wine Regions of the World” feature and just writing about other stuff – Like Writers Block for a Wine Reviewer.

About Poor Robert

A simple man with many interests to share with all who wish my company and knowledge.
This entry was posted in Craft Wines, Life Balance, Production Wine, Whimsy, Wines, Words, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Writers Block for a Wine Reviewer

  1. Marta says:

    That’s a long post for a writer’s block. 😉 Whenever you can’t find a good wine to write about, write around wine subject, go to peripheries, tell us about how you experience life and wine. You’re fun to read, even in your writer’s block!

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  2. Jan Waite-Schuster says:

    Robert, I can hardy imagine you at a loss for words…but since you appear to be down on yourself at the moment, let me uplift you a little. As people who drink regularly a glass or two a day it is difficult to get excited about a wine that we merely open to serve with dinner. I love that about myself and actually Naked Wines because even if I am not excited about it, it works for me to simply know that almost anything I select is going to work if I stick to some sort of plan on what works with certain foods. Occasionally I get a wine that I remark–I wish I had someone to share this with right now! Your articles are informative and a reaffirmation that I drink/sip simply because I love wine, not because someone tells me what I should love. Just keep us informed when you feel inspirational and the regions of the world section is a great addition. I just opened a Beaujolais and although not what I expected, I enjoy knowing that there are others out there who may enjoy it as much (or not) but what really matters is that we are all drinking wine. THAT is our connection today. You take the time to try and make it special for us. I appreciate you doing that. I appreciate winemakers doing what they must love to do, because all that work is underappreciated oftentimes. Stay the course my friend.

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    • Poor Robert says:

      Thanks Jan. You are an inspiration. I am actually not down on myself, it’s just that I am not inspired by the wine I’ve been drinking enough to write about them. It is much easier with NW offerings as they all inspire me (okay I get a bad bottle now and then). I will keep writing and informing. My current challenge is to get some of my favorite wine makers to write some pieces for me on Wine Regions of the World. For what its worth since finding all my wine friends on line, I never drink alone. I know that one of you is out there with me somewhere enjoying a glass of wine as am I.

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  3. Oh Robert! I’m so glad to learn you are writing for people like me. I can’t even consider myself a grapist! Until this piece, I felt like an ignorant interloper, reading these pages and understanding only about half what was said. But I do like a wine that tastes good and makes my mouth happy, and I like a glass with supper occasionally, so I keep coming back, hoping to learn something, and because I like reading you.

    Now here’s a question that is probably going to sound like wine sacrilege. Now that my daughter is pregnant, I’m the only one in the family taking an occasional tipple. I cannot drink a bottle of wine on my own in one sitting. Don’t even want to! My question is about those little rubbery corks we can put in an opened wine bottle and pump till they squeak–are they a good thing to keep the wine delicious? If so, what’s the maximum number of days (or weeks, heaven forbid) we can keep a bottle plugged like that before finishing it off?

    Or should I just wait until the new grand baby comes and I can share a bottle with my daughter again?

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    • Poor Robert says:

      You figured me out! I am writing for you — happy people that enjoy a little wine on occasion. As to recorking wine. I probably have anywhere from 3 to five bottles of wine open at a time just so I can taste them more than once while I review them. So the you answer is: If you plan to finish the bottle within 5 days don’t even bother to pump the air out. If you plan to keep it longer than that, pump away and you should be good for two weeks (wine snobs wont agree). With young wines (2011 to 2015 vintages – date on the bottle) you will find that the taste changes over the period of a week and in most cases it will be yummier. Why? — young wine improves with age in the bottle because of oxidation due to air seepage (planned) through a cork or through the liner in the new screw caps (don’t be fooled modern screw caps are great). When you open a bottle and leave air in it, you age it quickly. After three an opened, re stopped bottle will give you a sense of what the wine will be like in 5 years or so. In any case ask away and let me know what you think of a wine after it sits capped for a few days.

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