Founded by the late Daniel Rogov, focusing primarily on wines that are either kosher or Israeli.
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Joshua London

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Wine writing and earning a living?

by Joshua London » Mon May 14, 2012 5:33 pm

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Yossie Horwitz

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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Yossie Horwitz » Tue May 15, 2012 12:35 pm

Very good article that quite succinctly highlights one of the main "problems" with wine writing and a much prevalent one in Israel where, today, there doesn't exist a single wine writer who is free of potential conflicts of interests which are usually undisclosed (Adam Montefiore is a clear exception as his affiliation with Carmel and Yatir is clearly stated in every article he writes for the Jerusalem Post). The potential conflicts include providing consulting services for winery's and restaurants, brokering wine sales, importing and/or distributing wine, operating for-profit wine businesses of sorts, owning a wine retail establishment, operating a winery and being paid in one capacity or another by someone in the wine industry.

While I am sympathetic to the fact that, for the most part, wine writing doesn't pay sufficiently and people need additional sources of income, I find the lack of disclosure to be unfortunate. Additionally, the fact mentioned in the article about the "better" wines being expensive and therefore most wine writers are potentially at the mercy of the wineries for access to such wines is highly problematic and, to some extent, a cop-out. The wineries need the writers just like the writers need the wineries and need to provide access to their wines. The wineries are in the business of selling wine and the public needs to find out about the wine from the writers (further highlighting the need for proper disclosure and wine writers free from conflict of interest). Whether wine writers should write negative things about the wines they taste and found to their dislike is a topic for another thread and one briefly discussed here in the past as well (http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/village/viewtopic.php?f=29&t=40600&p=334993&hilit=+negative#p334993)

As a partial solution and, in addition to all the other things the Israeli government should be doing to help promote Israeli wine globally, subsidizing a professional writer and enabling such a writer to be conflict free would go a long way in my opinion toward achieving that goal while internally elevating the Israeli wine industry at the same time.

Interestingly enough, Steve Heimoff tangentially discuses this on his blog today: http://goo.gl/wDD65
Last edited by Yossie Horwitz on Fri May 25, 2012 12:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Joshua London » Tue May 15, 2012 9:26 pm

Yossie Horwitz wrote:As a partial solution and, in addition to all the other things the Israeli government should be doing to help promote Israeli wine globally, subsidizing a professional writer and enabling such a writer to be conflict free would go a long way in my opinion toward achieving that goal while internally elevating the Israeli wine industry at the same time.


Huh? :? If Israel, or any other nation for that matter, subsidized a wine writer, the wine world would rightly see that writer as little more than a public relations spokesperson - i.e., a tool. Any such government tool might theoretically be thus rendered superficially "free of conflict" (strictly in terms of playing favorites between Israeli wineries), but would otherwise be merely a shill for the industry. On top of which such a political position is bound to be subject to abuse and influence.
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David Raccah

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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by David Raccah » Tue May 15, 2012 10:52 pm

Indeed, that will not work, Government subsidy would look bad, further, Israel has stopped subsidizing the costs for marketing wines all together in the past 5 or so years. I complained bitterly to many wine makers about the lack of a serious association that ALL wineries would be a part of. They all lament about this as well, but they say the costs are too high and Israel did little to nothing to help this venture.

What can I say, the ONLY way to do it, is to be what Parker was in the old days, or what Rogov did. Either have 100% unbiased information, paid by those interested in that information or have a larger, unbiased business, do the same, i.e. a magazine, newspaper, or book, as long as the media folks are not in any way involved in the wine business per say. The papers that Rogov wrote for, were not in the wine trade or business, though I am sure some advertised there. The book was the purest version of all, those who wanted the info paid for the info.

The good news is that many bloggers are doing well, but the ads and such are always a problem, and a reason why I will NEVER have ads on my blog.

David
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Yossie Horwitz » Tue May 15, 2012 11:17 pm

I agree that, despite the many issues with Rogov's objectivity, he was relatively unbiased but we are not likely to have someone of his stature in the near future, if only for historical reason.

While the wine world at large would undoubtedly view any such governmentally-paid (or subsidized) individual as a shill, given Israel's insular wine industry, so long as the person had proper wine credentials he would be recognized as an authority and accepted as a legitimate wine writer, worthy of attention. Even Rogov w viewed as having favored Israeli wines which provided him the bulk of his livelihood and the astute readers discounted his scores by a couple of points taking into consideration his clear bias for Israeli wines. If the result of any such governmental backing is a credible wine writer who overscores Israeli wineries I'll take that over the biased individuals pushing "wineries" on the unsuspecting public.
Last edited by Yossie Horwitz on Wed May 16, 2012 12:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by David Raccah » Wed May 16, 2012 1:15 am

Yossie Horwitz wrote:While the wife world at large ....


Was that a Freudian slip??? :lol:

I am not sure if I would be interested in a partial shill, in the end, we have what we have now and time will tell what comes next...

David
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Gabriel Geller » Wed May 16, 2012 9:39 am

There is a Hebrew-speaking magazine gaining popularity in Israel called Wine & Gourmet (יין וגורמה) publishing regularly scores on a 100 basis like Rogov or WA for Israeli wines (K and non-K) as well as wines from abroad. A guy from one of the local wineries told me that the magazine is now the "most recognized authority" in Israel that provides info and scores. Recognized.... By whom? That I don't know... :? Well, some of his wines were scored especially high in there (you'd be surprised which winery!)... :wink:

The wines are claimed being blind-tasted by a panel of judges but their names are unknown to me. Personally, I disagree on many of their scores but that's just my opinion. For anyone here that might be interested and can read and undertsand Hebrew, here's (in hebrew) the link to their website, with the page dedicated to the scores of the 151 wines they tasted prior to ISRAWINEXPO '12:

http://www.winet.co.il/1918/%D7%98%D7%A ... 7%9C-2012/

Best,

GG
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by David Raccah » Wed May 16, 2012 10:32 am

That is some really messed up scores. Some of those I cannot taste, sop no comments there, but some of those scores are WAY high and some are actually low, in my opinion (Gary you lurking :lol: )

That is not a consistent wine scoring magazine that I would depend on...
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Yossie Horwitz » Wed May 16, 2012 12:44 pm

Whoops - wonder why the iPad would think I was more interested in the wife than wine...
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Gabriel Geller » Wed May 16, 2012 2:20 pm

Yossie Horwitz wrote:Whoops - wonder why the iPad would think I was more interested in the wife than wine...

:lol:
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Yossie Horwitz » Wed May 16, 2012 2:48 pm

David - I'm not sure by what measure you are so easily dismissive of the results - just because you disagree with them? Blind tastings have a way of keeping everyone honest and tend to yield surprising results if it was truly blind, and I am hard pressed to find fault with the panel of judges or the tasting itself?

Of the 20 people, I know 8 of them and, while I am not sure having winemakers participate in the tasting is fair given the obvious tendency to more highly rate thier own wines, with 20 folks on the panel, I'd assume any such preferences would have a negligible effect on the final results. The judges included Gil and Ido of Recanati and Yotam Sharon from Barkan who are all clearly knowledgeable and well regarded. Arkady Papikian is a well-known consultant to many Israeli wineries and the list also includes a number of other very knowledgeable wine enthusiasts.
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by David Raccah » Wed May 16, 2012 4:08 pm

I love tasting blind and by the scores that I gave most of those wines or the scores that Rogov did, I disagree with almost all of them. Again, in my humble opinion - Gary has to be somewhere around... :lol:

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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Yossie Horwitz » Wed May 16, 2012 4:56 pm

I think there are two different issues with wine writers - their "ability", in which I include integrity, knowledge, tasting ability, etc. and "relevance" by which I mean how well any individual wine writer/critic's palate is calibrated to your own. While the first criteria is mostly objective, the second is purely subjective. In the event one relies (to whatever extent) on an individual for his tasting notes/recommendations, one should first ascertain that the palate he is following matches his own (by trying a few recommendations and seeing if you agree). In the event any scoring or tasting results are materially inconsistent with your own, it shouldn't cast a pall on the quality or caliber of the publication - merely that the palate or "result" (in the case of a panel) is different than your own.

When a magazine or other publication is rating wines by way of a large panel, I think the results are mostly useful for the average wine buyer who doesn't know much about wines (and isn't that interested) but is rather looking for the "deliciousness" factor. In that vein, a panel of 20 folks at least some of whom are well-qualified is going to average out and indicate the wines that were, on average, most pleasing to the largest number of folks. These type of results, more likely than not, will be calibrated to the average consumer and not the wine aficionado. I saw this with the Jewish Week's tasting where my personal scores where inconsistent with the groups final vote - that's what a large panel and averaging scores does - reach the mean, not necessarily a consensus (anecdotally, W. Blake Gray recently touched on this when discussing whether a panel of 5 can reach a consensus on any wine [imagine 20!] (http://goo.gl/GaeSD).
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Craig Winchell » Wed May 16, 2012 5:11 pm

Yossie, I agree with you in many ways. But a large panel's average is not necessarily meaningful at all- any more than a small of diverse tasters. If I have 2 groups, one that loves a wine and one that hates it, the results will be somewhere in between. However, I have no way of knowing, if I see the score, whether the results were for a homogeneous group ambivalent to the wine, or two or more very diverse groups who see wine in fundamentally different ways. n other words, the first situation is a rating of deliciousness, the second is not. I hear what you are saying about relevance, which is true of a wine taster or a group of them
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by David Raccah » Wed May 16, 2012 6:10 pm

Guys this is going in circles, I have my opinion and others have theirs. I will make it simple -

1) There have been very FEW people I respect who have ever stated that the Mony Reserve wines are better than RSR, Odem Chard or is as good as the 2008 Med or the 2008 Yarden Cab, are again - to me - not calibrated.

2) Also, few would think that the Carmel Private Collection Cab/Merlot is as good as the Tepperberg Malbec, Alon, or Galil Pinot Noir, are non-calibrated, again in my opinion.

Worse, is that these scores do not follow a theme either. The wines scored higher are not Mediterranean in style nor European in style, they are all over the place.

With that many scored high, to me are not even close, many scored low, are also off, to me. If you want to use 20 people as an excuse, fine with me, but in the end, I would BE VERY SHOCKED if the vast majority of the world would like the Mony Chard over many of the wines scored lower or higher. Same goes for many others scored as well.

David
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Yossie Horwitz » Thu May 24, 2012 12:19 am

Not sure where this came from. I wasn't "alluding" to you or anyone else in particular but making a general statement about all Israeli wine writers which, at least to me, mostly includes the Israeli (i.e. Hebrew speaking) ones I have been reading over the last 20 odd years I've been following the Israeli wine industry, the majority of which I spent in Israel. This was also a general discussion about wine writing and it's problems as discussed by Jeffords in the article Josh posted and wasn't personal in any way. There is a whole lot of unnecessary unpleasantness directed at me in that post that I'm sure where it came from?
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Robin Garr » Thu May 24, 2012 8:44 am

David, you are threatening litigation against the forum and its members again. Even though it is quite clear that you are merely blustering, I can't have that. I am exercising my privilege as the owner and operator of this forum to remove your access, effective immediately. Good bye, sir.


David Rhodes wrote:Yossie & David,

I posted my reaction to how your posts int his thread offended me and possibly libeled/slander me

I'm asking you politely to delete your post in the next 24 hours or I will seek any all remedied legally within my means

including a potential law suit under Israeli and american law and possible UK as well

and sanctions within the industry that can muster

the ball is in your court

play nice with me and other wine professionals or there could be serious ramifications

enthusiasts ans hobbyists are encouraged to express their interest on wines but to talk about people's ethics and morals in the industry is crossing the line

if you ever accepted a free taste or bottle of wine you are just as culpable as anyone else
its just a matter of degree

I want to move on and waste no more of my valuable time on this topic so you can either cease and desist and delete these kinds of conversations or I can see if there are any lawyers looking for work and there typically are...this isn't a threat its a warning...

David
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Mark Lieser » Thu May 24, 2012 10:32 am

Robin:

Thank you for taking this action. The tone of this thread is precisely why I have continued to remain as a "lurker" instead of participant in the wine forum since Rogov died. I have enough stress in my professional life. I don't need this in something that should be purely for pleasure and personal enrichment!

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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Robin Garr » Thu May 24, 2012 10:38 am

Mark Lieser wrote:Robin:

Thank you for taking this action. The tone of this thread is precisely why I have continued to remain as a "lurker" instead of participant in the wine forum since Rogov died. I have enough stress in my professional life. I don't need this in something that should be purely for pleasure and personal enrichment!

Mark Lieser

Mark, although I like to administer the forums with a light and gentle hand, sometimes it's necessary to make it into a fist. It's to the credit of all you folks that these forums can operate as a self-moderating community, and I hope you'll feel more free to participate. The more that good people take part and behave well, the stronger becomes the critical mass directed toward keeping it that way.
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Jonathan D » Thu May 24, 2012 10:53 am

Hi Robin - Thank you so much for doing this. I echo Mark's comments completely. There is no place in this forum for people to make legal threats, as unfounded and utterly frivolous as they may be.
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Robin Garr » Thu May 24, 2012 11:46 am

Jonathan D wrote:Hi Robin - Thank you so much for doing this. I echo Mark's comments completely. There is no place in this forum for people to make legal threats, as unfounded and utterly frivolous as they may be.

Well, I dislike doing it and feel that the forum fails a bit when we have to ban someone. But under the circumstances, I've felt it necessary to lock David out of the forum. To this point, no one has been in touch to advise me that I did the wrong thing, but of course my door is open. ;)
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Craig Winchell » Thu May 24, 2012 12:51 pm

See? That's why I didn't want to be the moderator, and evidently it's a good thing I refused. I would have just allowed him to continue posting, and allowed the group to make him irrelevant, if they so desired, by ignoring/not responding to his posts. Sooner or later, he would have left on his own. Even a troll can occasionally come up with a valuable comment or post.
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by Robin Garr » Thu May 24, 2012 12:55 pm

Craig Winchell wrote:See? That's why I didn't want to be the moderator, and evidently it's a good thing I refused. I would have just allowed him to continue posting, and allowed the group to make him irrelevant, if they so desired, by ignoring/not responding to his posts. Sooner or later, he would have left on his own. Even a troll can occasionally come up with a valuable comment or post.

I hate banning people, Craig, and I've only done it four or five times across all our forums.

Sometimes, though, it's necessary to make the tough judgement that an individual is simply too corrosive to the community spirit of the forum, and when it comes to that point, then the integrity of the community should be paramount. There's probably a midrash about this, but I am not skilled enough to find it.
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Re: Wine writing and earning a living?

by ChaimShraga » Thu May 24, 2012 2:23 pm

Wow, I was temptred to ask David this morning whether he really thought people wanted him to moderate the forum.
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