At Vinisud, I had the pleasure of introducing an alternative wine tasting for the Outsiders.
The Alternative Tasting
Basically, we just did a fun wine tasting where we encouraged people to describe our wines with images that Louise Hurren had picked out for our tasting booklet. Forcing people to think about a wine with images instead of words gets them to think outside the box instead of falling back on the oft repeated tasting note vocab like rich, balanced, and a laundry list of fruit.
Furthermore, it empowers novice drinkers to review wines without worrying that they’re using the wrong word. The experts can make us feel inadequate about language sometimes, but they pretty much have no dominion in the land of photo reviews.
Why was this tasting on the Pavillion 2.0 space?
This tasting was held at the Internet space of Vinisud and there’s a good reason for that! The reason for the prominence of the tasting note is largely grounded in the limitations of print media. Limited space means we talk in pure descriptors without any conjugation. But the Internet doesn’t pose the same challenge. We can have infinite words and infinite photos in full color. And heck we can even use moving pictures, music, and other media that were previously impossible to include in printed wine journalism. The Internet provides us with a path to escape the tyranny of the tasting note!
So I did a little presentation on this topic to get everybody thinking outside the box before we got to drinking outside the box:
All the slides are available on slideshare with relevant links to related articles in the penultimate slide.
I’d say everybody had a blast. Including a lot of wine journalists (showing once again that even they can be fed up with tasting note format). I originally wanted to do a tasting with music and video and all sorts of crazy stuff. Thankfully, our group’s organizer Louise had the good sense to rein it in and focus on photos.
We had less than an hour to run the event so it was good to keep it simple and focused. We got insanely good feedback about the event and it has already spawned several requests for similarly styled “alternative tastings”. We also got several good ideas from our tasters who offered up ways to evolve the program and make it even more interesting. Doing physical touchy feely tastings, doing musical tastings, tasting in darkness, drawings instead of photos, and so on.
In terms of tasting notes, I think we all received a wide range of notes. I got everything from Lego man to Dutch masters. I got several of the He/She picture that makes me wonder if I shouldn’t change my look. Some of the outsiders noted that certain age groups tended to pick certain pictures (the more daring ones) more frequently than other demographics. I’m sure we’ll compile more on this at our next meeting.
Everybody had fun tasting and I think this sort of event gets people to think and talk about wine in a new and stimulating way without feeling overly stuffy or pretentious. A success!
Lots of depth. Dangerous because this wine is heaven with a box of chocolates!
Our review of the week from a customer at Naked Wines. It’s true that the Trah Lah Lah 2008 goes great with some dark chocolate truffles. A real delight. A feedback loop of hedonism that only the bravest foodies should embark on! 🙂
We are very proud to discover that Tamlyn Currin, a writer at JancisRobinson.com, has included us in a review of some of the top winemaking “Estranhièrs” in the Languedoc-Roussillon.
We’re in very good company and this is the kind of content that makes you want to subscribe to Jancis’ purple pages. It’s a great compilation of winemakers for people who are eager to discover the amazing diversity of the Languedoc Roussillon.
Tamlyn has also written some of my favorite reviews for my wines to date. The Mojo has “sassy red berry fruit” (Awesome. I’ll be using that a lot.) The Syrah has “Damson by the bucket load” (That’s a type of plum. One that we actually grow on the vineyard.)
And the Proprietor’s Reserve review goes back and forth between long, narrative sentences and sharp, captivating notes. The review matches the wine. I’m very proud of my parents and me. 🙂
Six barrels of Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 barrels of Syrah and 12 barrels of Merlot. Fermented and aged in new French oak for 18-20 months.
A perfume that made me close my eyes, just to breathe it in. Sweet damson, spiced dried fruit, figs and wet tea leaves. Rich and chocolatey, with plenty of dark plum tang and cinnamon. This tastes much more American than Languedoc – something that is more or less what I have noticed in all their wines. Very long. Velvety. Hedonistic. (TC) 13.5%
Toward the end, I wonder if I’m really making American-styled wines and whether or not making new world wines is mutually exclusive with being true to the Languedoc terroir. But I don’t want to dwell on that right now. I want to dwell on velvety hedonism. I really love these reviews and I’m so happy to be featured on Jancis’ site. She wrote a lot of the reference material that got my dad and me into wine in the first place. And Tamlyn is a charm.
To discover the other estates reviewed in the article “Estranhièrs in Languedoc-Roussillon“, you’ll have to subscribe to the Purple Pages! You’ll get to read about some of my good friends in the Languedoc and Roussillon. The estates included in the reviews are Rives Blanques, Domaine Treloar, Domaine Ste-Croix, Domaine Jones, Chateau D’Angles (which we actually considered buying in 2004!), and Chateau des Estanilles (who has a long overdue Love That Languedoc episode in the pipes).
So I set up Wine Everybody as my home page for a week. Wine Everybody is a feed aggregator and social media platform specifically oriented toward wine. It takes all the feeds from good wine blogs, tweets related to wine, message boards, etc. and puts them in one place. It is currently in beta.
The Short version:
responsive design team
flexible search parameters
winnows out affiliate marketers and spam
does everything you expect (e.g. link to facebook and twitter accounts, one click publishing)
doesn’t track what I’ve already read
I personally dislike some of the CSS (buttons pop up when you point your cursor at a block of text. it moves everything in the column downward and disorients me)
goofy name (I’m one to talk, right?)
Add a “follow this person on twitter” button
Add a “rss url” field so that I can add good feeds to other aggregators I use
Find out if I’m the only person who hates the popup buttons
The Long Version:
I wanted to give it an honest try to see if it would become a permanent part of my life or not. My impression is that it’s an overall worthwhile website that works remarkably well considering it’s only in beta.
Now, technically, I set up a specific search query as my homepage. Rather than loading the generic “Tons of articles about wine” page, I load specifically to a narrowed down search for the term “Languedoc” or “Roussillon”. This is more pertinent to my work so I said to myself it would be more useful. And it’s a better point of comparison to the tools I already use (like google alerts for the phrases “Languedoc vin” “Languedoc wine” “Roussillon vin” and “Roussillon wine”).
Immediately, I have to say it’s pretty cool that I don’t need FOUR separate search queries on Wine Everybody. They have a really simple interface that lets me search for articles with Languedoc or Roussillon and then the entire website only reads stuff about wine and vin, so I get all four of my usual feeds in one little bundle.
Also, it’s pretty admirable that most of the content from my google alerts also pops up in the Wine Everybody interface. I was worried that some news feeds like local Languedoc papers might not be included in their feed, but I generally saw the same stories published in both Wine Everybody and my google alerts. Wine Everybody runs a lot faster than Google Reader too.
The only real downside is that Wine Everybody doesn’t track which articles I’ve read quite as clearly as Reader does. . . but that might just be because I haven’t explored the site enough. Plus the site designers at Vinternet are pretty savvy, so there is still time for them to add features like this one.
While I haven’t fully explored it, I also enjoy Wine Everybody’s level of interaction with message boards. Internet forums often get overlooked by the feeds I currently have aggregated. I think a lot of the time new posts don’t have all the same keywords in them and that’s how they get ignored.
Anyway, I’m kind of rambling. But I wanted to write up a little review of my first experiences with Wine Everybody. I think the name is sort of goofy. But I like what the website does. Will it stay as my homepage? For now, yes. On one of my computers. Although I feel bad because this experiment is adding like ten minutes to my dad’s computer time each morning as he struggles to type G-O-O-G-L-E-.-C-O-M every time he opens a new window. Bless him.
How to find us
Domaine O’Vineyards, located in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, is just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387
Wine, Dine, Relax at our Boutique Vineyard
Unique thing to do in Carcassonne
Wine Cellar. Winery Visits. Wine Tasting.
Wine & Food Pairing
North Arrondissement of Carcassonne
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910
Best by GPS.
Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou using the D118. At the end of the last straight part of D118, you will come to a roundabout with the Dyneff gas station.
Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which curves up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire on the left.
At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.