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Florida Jim

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About tasting notes and responding to them

by Florida Jim » Fri Aug 31, 2007 9:16 am

Some recent comments about tasting notes and how few responses they get in the ESJ thread, deserve their own thread, IMO:

“I like to discuss the wines I drink. Perhaps many are too esoteric & do not strike a chord, but if there's no discussion then it's not much worth it to me to post.” David Bueker

“It's a dilemma, David. In the early days of the forum, we kind of took pains to respond to all TNs, but it didn't take long for everyone to tire of content-void responses like "good post" or "sounds like great juice." Robin Garr


“I do not post notes to get attention - in fact I don't care whether or not anyone ever reads them.

I post notes so that in the future I can find my own notes with a search.

I do not harbour any misconceptions about anyone having to care about my notes, or respond to them or care about what I say - it is a personal archive for my use alone. If anyone else does care to review my notes and they are useful, that's fine, but it really doesn't matter to me either way.” Bill Spohn


There are any number of reasons to post tasting notes, David and Bill mention two. And Robin’s comment certainly states what many think – after all, how many ‘atta boys’ does one want to read.

I post tasting notes for a couple of reasons; I do like to discuss the wines I taste and I do like to have an archive I can reference. But more than anything, I do it to add something to what is a relatively small and quite remarkable community of people. By posting, I get to communicate something of myself, my likes and dislikes, my experience and my aspirations to those that read my notes. Moreover, I do this in a common language and in terms that, although they may be esoteric, deliver more than just information about wine.

This is important to me as I have met many of the people who post here. By reading their posts over the years, including the kinds of wine they taste, I have a starting point in conversation and some common experiences to build on.

This is a very rare community. On three successive years, a friend who also posts and I took off by car for two or three weeks each year to visit the folks we ‘met’ on the boards. One year we were in the far west, one year we were in the mid-west and one year in the northeast. The vast majority of our evenings on the road were spent in other people’s homes (by invitation) – people we had talked to on the boards but never physically met. Not an axe-murderer in the group.
Each night was cause to celebrate and many other people in their area came by to visit and have a glass of wine. Some nights, the parties were extraordinary.
I haven’t gone wine-treking in a few years now but I maintain a large number of those relationships and have expanded upon a few.

Not everyone can just pick-up and go as I did, but we can all get better acquainted here and posting is one of the ways we do that – perhaps, the easiest and most available way.

So I would encourage anyone who drops by to post. And equally, I would encourage anyone who posts that may be coming to the westcoast of FL or the western mountains of NC, to drop me a line – at the very least, we can get together to share a glass of wine and get acquainted.

Best, Jim
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by David M. Bueker » Fri Aug 31, 2007 9:21 am

Jim,

Good thoughts. There's already a separate thread though. Perhaps Robin can merge the topic (I have not the power).
There behind the glass lies a real blade of grass. Be careful as you pass. Move along. Move along.
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Robin Garr » Fri Aug 31, 2007 9:35 am

David M. Bueker wrote:There's already a separate thread though. Perhaps Robin can merge the topic (I have not the power).


Alas, Jenise or I can "split" threads (although it's a little scary - I always fear one of the halves will go "poof" and disappear), but the forum software doesn't provide for "gluing" threads as far as I know.
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by MattThr » Fri Aug 31, 2007 9:57 am

Being still on the learning curve, I tend to use my tasting note posts as an opportunity to ask questions about the wine, or the region or varietal. I'm then mildly disappointed when few people respond. It sounds like I'm choosing a poor place in which to frame my questions, but since they're often linked to my particular experience, divorcing them from the TN's seems a bit pointless. Any suggestions as to a better way of asking?
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Robin Garr » Fri Aug 31, 2007 10:16 am

MattThr wrote:Being still on the learning curve, I tend to use my tasting note posts as an opportunity to ask questions about the wine, or the region or varietal. I'm then mildly disappointed when few people respond. It sounds like I'm choosing a poor place in which to frame my questions, but since they're often linked to my particular experience, divorcing them from the TN's seems a bit pointless. Any suggestions as to a better way of asking?


That's a good question, Matt. I can think of two possibilities:

1. (easy) Use a subject line like "WTN: 05 Chablis plus a question" so people will know there's a question as well as a tasting report.

2. (little more effort) Post your WTN, then select and copy the URL of that post. Then post a question with an explicit subject line, and in that message ask your question, with a hotlink back to your WTN.

And of course, we can all take this discussion as a useful reminder that TNs are fun to read and that sincere questions deserve good answers, and that talking about wine is why we're here ... :)
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Dale Williams » Fri Aug 31, 2007 10:36 am

Unsure about where to post, hopefully no one feels their post is being ignored! :)

Jim C. summed up much of my feelings more eloquently than I could. I post notes because:
1) it gives me an archive to search. I could just write up on my own computer and save, but the possibility of interesting discussion makes me more likely to write up notes when I know I'll post. My rather peculiar non-Knapp-compliant "diary" style also lets me see what I matched with dishes and how it did, and can even serve as a reminder re guests etc (Betsy will say "what did we serve last time Rachel and Joe were here", I can usually remember the wine and let her know so she doesn't duplicate).
2) I do like the possibility of discussion. Frankly, I like it MORE when someone says "you're full of #$%^" about a wine, it makes for spirited debate. But I realize that many times I might post on a wine that no one else has tried. My posts on classifed Bdx tend to get more responses than Lambrusco or Lagrien (or for that matter single vineyard Burgs or Rieslings made in 200 case quantities).
3) As Jim noted, it's nice to contribute to the community. One doesn't need to feel that their tasting skills are extraordinary to just post what they feel about a wine. Extra data points are nice about any wine, especially once you have a sense of the writer. I'll second the notion that its nice to actually meet those whom you've argued with.

I see Robin already beat me to answer Matt. I'd go with his option one. I might not open a WTN that said "01 Bubkas Arizona Viognier", as I don't have much interest in Viognier (or AZ wine). But I'd be more likely to open " "01 Bubkas Arizona Viognier and a question re acidity"
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by MattThr » Fri Aug 31, 2007 10:40 am

Dale Williams wrote:But I'd be more likely to open " "01 Bubkas Arizona Viognier and a question re acidity"


Thanks for the suggestions - I'll try it and see what happens. The only major barrier I can see is the cap on the length of title fields!
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Aug 31, 2007 10:56 am

Wish I had more time to answer right now but one way to draw attention to a new TN is to think of a catchy title. When I post a 2nd hand blind tasting, this usually works....."Hey, this red is a winner".
I used to worry when no-one responded to my notes but have chilled out!! As Bill says, good way to keep a record.
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Bill Spohn » Fri Aug 31, 2007 11:45 am

MattThr wrote:
Dale Williams wrote:But I'd be more likely to open " "01 Bubkas Arizona Viognier and a question re acidity"


Thanks for the suggestions - I'll try it and see what happens. The only major barrier I can see is the cap on the length of title fields!


Matt, I tend to read others notes on wines I own, looking for an update without me having to pop a cork. If I see a question in that note I usually try and answer it or post some of my earlier notes.

If I see a note on a wine I don't cellar, or one that just doesn't interest me that much right now, I am much less likely to read it and so any question you had in it will go unnoticed. I think it is an excellent idea toindicate that you have a question as then I wouldprobably read rather than pass over.

If you run short on space, just post "+???" after your description and we'll know what you mean.

I try to include a short list of what I think might be the most interesting wines in my headers to offer anyone that might be interested in them a chance to read the note, but we do run short on space. When I say that I don't care if anyone looks at my notes, it doesn't mean that I don't try to offer then for whatever use the may be and am happy to answer questions - it just doesn't pain me if no one reads them. I think the discussion and willingness to offer information is a thanks due for the use of sites like these.

Florida Jim, on the other hand, tends to use laconic headers that don't describe contents at all, and when I am short on time (regrettably usually the case) this means that I just don't look into the post to see if there is anything that might be of interest. Jim, a brief descriptor wouldn't go amis, but of course they are your notes and your call.
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Florida Jim » Fri Aug 31, 2007 11:52 am

Bill,
I'll keep it in mind.
Best, Jim
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Bill Spohn » Fri Aug 31, 2007 11:55 am

Florida Jim wrote:Bill,
I'll keep it in mind.
Best, Jim


It wasn't a criticism, Jim, just a comment. I do enjoy reading your notes - when I have time... :D
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Carl Eppig » Fri Aug 31, 2007 11:56 am

I've long, long ago gotten over people not responding to TNs on this and other forums. Jim hit all the salient points. At least on this forum you can find out how many people read them!
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by OW Holmes » Fri Aug 31, 2007 12:10 pm

Mea Culpa. I don't post many TNs, and I have no good excuse. I just don't take notes when I taste wine. The few I do post usually represent a surprise - A $10 wine found in the cellar that was far better than it should have been, for example - or a newly released wine that I think others might be interested in. I don't do it to keep a record - I do that (well, more reactions than TNs) on a spreadsheet, but inconsistently and less with each passing bottle. These personal notes are less a description of flavors and technical information, and more notes of where the wine is in its developement, decisions on "will or will not buy more", suggested food matches, and overall impressions of quality. Should I be posting those????
If I only have one bottle and don't buy more, I never make a note. And when I have purchased multiples and drink the last bottle, I delete the spreadsheet line since it has no value for me any more.
On reading TNs, I read those on bottles I have and need a data point, and those with catchy titles, and those regarding young wines from an area in which I have interest, and from those who write really great TNs (of which there are many), and from those with whom I share a similar palate. I think I read at least half of the WTNs that are posted, and am appreciative even if I don't say so. So let me say so now. Thanks.
On responding to TNs, I do that infrequently. Almost never, and then only if it raises a question or I have some recent experience with the same wine. If I have had a contrary experience, I will almost certainly say so, but with tens of thousands of wine represented on this board, I rarely have a recent experience with a wine somebody else writes up. But my infrequent responses don't mean I am unappreciative. I am.
So now, I'll sign off and post a WTN on a new wine some of you might like to try......
-OW
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by James Roscoe » Fri Aug 31, 2007 12:21 pm

First, I think Jim's thread is much more articulate than the one I started. I just wanted to avoid taking over another thread.

O.W., I am so glad there is someone else like me! I have no excuse for not taking notes or posting them. I even have notes from 9 months ago I didn't post. I am lazy.

Bill S. hits the nail on the head though. Mostly it's about time. I can't think of any person who posts here whose notes I wouldn't want to read. I just don't have the time, even in the summer when I am out of school and my schedule is my own. On the other hand, if I have time and a particular wine strikes me, I will often have a question and I hope I don't bore people with my questions. I really am new at this stuff even after four or five years.
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Thomas » Fri Aug 31, 2007 12:49 pm

It is rare that I post specific tasting notes. My reason is simple: being a wine writer, I do not want to appear that I endorse (or do not endorse) any particular wine.

The rare times when I do post a note, it's stirred by some unusual event or quality connected to the wine.

I do read TNs--and I particularly love Jim's. I rarely comment on them for the same reason that I rarely post my own.

Ask me anything else about wine and I'm full of opinions--and before James says it, sometimes full of s**t too...
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Robin Garr » Fri Aug 31, 2007 1:13 pm

Thomas wrote:It is rare that I post specific tasting notes. My reason is simple: being a wine writer, I do not want to appear that I endorse (or do not endorse) any particular wine.


Okay, with great respect, I'm going to have to challenge this. Isn't commenting on wine, for better or worse, one of the important things that wine writers <i>do</i>? It seems to me that when a writing professional writes about a wine, it's clearly and generally understood that he (or she) is not endorsing, nor bashing, for commercial purposes but as a reasonably objective and skilled observer describing the wine in the consumer interest.

There might be a handful of "writers" out there who sell their services and their souls by writing lyrical raves for commercial clients, but most wine geeks quickly figure out who they are.

Am I missing something here? Not challenging you, Thomas, but I'd be intrigued to know your thoughts on this.
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Ian Sutton » Fri Aug 31, 2007 1:49 pm

For me it's part 'archive', but also it's nice to make some connection if you've tasted the wine or have an interest in it. That's where open mike and wine focus really take that concept on. The net result is I think we're close to the right level IMO.

That said, if someone posts a long set of TN's and no-one responds, then they may feel it was wasted, but as well as those that read, but didn't respond initially, there will be those that come back months or years later to make use of it.

8)

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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Thomas » Fri Aug 31, 2007 2:23 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Thomas wrote:It is rare that I post specific tasting notes. My reason is simple: being a wine writer, I do not want to appear that I endorse (or do not endorse) any particular wine.


Okay, with great respect, I'm going to have to challenge this. Isn't commenting on wine, for better or worse, one of the important things that wine writers <i>do</i>? It seems to me that when a writing professional writes about a wine, it's clearly and generally understood that he (or she) is not endorsing, nor bashing, for commercial purposes but as a reasonably objective and skilled observer describing the wine in the consumer interest.

There might be a handful of "writers" out there who sell their services and their souls by writing lyrical raves for commercial clients, but most wine geeks quickly figure out who they are.

Am I missing something here? Not challenging you, Thomas, but I'd be intrigued to know your thoughts on this.


True, as you put it, "it's clearly and generally understood that he (or she) is not endorsing, nor bashing, for commercial purposes but as a reasonably objective and skilled observer describing the wine in the consumer interest." But that mainly refers to that genre of wine writer known as a critic.

I am not a wine critic (at least not in print).

In my columns, articles, or books I don't usually write about my taste impressions of individual wines by brand or producer--that is not my interest. My aim in writing about wine is to learn and then to pass on what I learn in as much a generic way as possible. In that sense, the wine "geek" is not my primary audience; hell, based on the sales of my books, the wine geek may not even be in my audience...
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Florida Jim » Fri Aug 31, 2007 2:25 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Thomas wrote:It is rare that I post specific tasting notes. My reason is simple: being a wine writer, I do not want to appear that I endorse (or do not endorse) any particular wine.


Okay, with great respect, I'm going to have to challenge this. Isn't commenting on wine, for better or worse, one of the important things that wine writers <i>do</i>? It seems to me that when a writing professional writes about a wine, it's clearly and generally understood that he (or she) is not endorsing, nor bashing, for commercial purposes but as a reasonably objective and skilled observer describing the wine in the consumer interest.

There might be a handful of "writers" out there who sell their services and their souls by writing lyrical raves for commercial clients, but most wine geeks quickly figure out who they are.

Am I missing something here? Not challenging you, Thomas, but I'd be intrigued to know your thoughts on this.


Thomas,
FWIW, I echo Robin's question - no challenge, you gotta do what you gotta do. But your input would be special.
If you would like to see a wine writer who does post on wines and even takes questions on them, you may want to check-out Daniel Rogov's forum at: http://stratsplace.zeroforum.com/zeroforum?id=1
I think Daniel is extremely even handed, takes criticism better than I would and has a pretty diverse and interesting following because of his decision to be so very accessible. And although his major interest is Iraeli wines, he does cover the globe.
Best, Jim
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by James Roscoe » Fri Aug 31, 2007 2:48 pm

Thomas, while you may be full of s***t, don't we love that in a wine? Why not a person too? Anyway, it takes one to know one. Besides, at least you know your s###t stinks. I appreciate a stand-up guy. Now go open a good bottle of CdP.
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Thomas » Fri Aug 31, 2007 2:58 pm

Florida Jim wrote:Thomas,
FWIW, I echo Robin's question - no challenge, you gotta do what you gotta do. But your input would be special.
If you would like to see a wine writer who does post on wines and even takes questions on them, you may want to check-out Daniel Rogov's forum at: http://stratsplace.zeroforum.com/zeroforum?id=1
I think Daniel is extremely even handed, takes criticism better than I would and has a pretty diverse and interesting following because of his decision to be so very accessible. And although his major interest is Iraeli wines, he does cover the globe.
Best, Jim


Answered Robin in the post above you, Jim.

Nah, unless I am talking about objective wine matters, the stuff one can measure, I am not exactly sure why my subjectivity should be important to anyone else but me. I do know, however, that as a guy who writes about wine, subjectivity has gotten me in trouble before and surely would again.

Sitting around with a group, with wines (and always food) is a different issue completely. There, I willingly ramble on. But even in this mode, I prefer the wide sweep of conviviality over engaging in "geeky" subjective study of the wines.

PS: I have looked in on Rogov a couple of times. I look in other bbs, but choose to post on only two or three. A lot of my lurking is work related. I get a lot of story leads from the conversations that strike up.
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Thomas » Fri Aug 31, 2007 3:03 pm

James Roscoe wrote:Thomas, while you may be full of s***t, don't we love that in a wine? Why not a person too? Anyway, it takes one to know one. Besides, at least you know your s###t stinks. I appreciate a stand-up guy. Now go open a good bottle of CdP.


In me it's s**t; in CdP it's good Brett!!!
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Florida Jim » Fri Aug 31, 2007 3:48 pm

Thomas wrote:Nah, unless I am talking about objective wine matters, the stuff one can measure, I am not exactly sure why my subjectivity should be important to anyone else but me. I do know, however, that as a guy who writes about wine, subjectivity has gotten me in trouble before and surely would again.


You may be unsure about what you have to offer subjectively but not offerring it leaves no possibility that it will have value.

I prefer to take my chances here - as though we were all sitting around eating and dining and discussing that which comes up, including the wine.
Remember, its not just fermented grape juice we're talking about here - its about each other.
Best, Jim
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Re: About tasting notes and responding to them

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Fri Aug 31, 2007 7:04 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:For me it's part 'archive', but also it's nice to make some connection if you've tasted the wine or have an interest in it. That's where open mike and wine focus really take that concept on. The net result is I think we're close to the right level IMO.

That said, if someone posts a long set of TN's and no-one responds, then they may feel it was wasted, but as well as those that read, but didn't respond initially, there will be those that come back months or years later to make use of it.

8)

regards

Ian


As someone who seems to post a number of TNs here (JR, me an expert??!), I echo Ian`s thoughts. Open Mike is an excellent way of getting people involved with their imput i.e. thoughts and notes. That is why I use it a lot and one can cover more ground. It also means that one has to go out and find a wine/s that one might not normally purchase. It also becomes a learning experience for the writer/poster!! Plus its great `cos more people here respond.

Jim really summed it all up nicely earlier today. I wish I could take in all the threads here and yes there are a few I skip...Indiana shipping laws and all that kinda stuff. I love digging up TNs from the archives, a good reminder of what someone else thought of an earlier vintage.
Someone mention titles here today. I like to have some fun with mine, hopefully it will draw more attention!!! I have a good one coming up on last nights Sparkling Wine tasting downtown........"MikeB seen buying Bellini after instore tasting!!!'. That, and hopefully the tasting notes, will draw some attention.
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