Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Honesty, Ethics, and Wine Writing

Bad Blogger!!  No Wine For You!!
I don’t normally spend my words, or your precious time writing about other wine writers. But, what the heck, I’m feeling a little spunky today!

If you are looking to be REALLY informed on the wine industry from all angles you should be reading a blog called Palate Press. This blog is respectfully one of the best information sources for the entire industry. Someday, maybe when I grow up, I’ll be good enough to have my articles post there. Then I’ll know I’ve arrived.

Anyway, this week there was a fantastic op. ed. piece by Evan Dawson, an ABC news anchor from Rochester New York, and wine writer. I’ll let you read Evan’s column yourself, however, in a nutshell he talks about a storm brewing around the famed Robert Parker and James Suckling. Both are world renowned wine writers that everyone bows to.

At issue is something that goes on all over the wine writing world. That is, you give me a bottle of wine, and chances are higher that I’ll drink it. Take me to a nice dinner with your wines and the chances are even greater. Fly me to your winery, take me to your vineyard, and feed me a specially prepared 5 star meal paired with your wines and it’s pretty much a slam dunk!

Not only will us wine writers write you up, but chances are we’re going to be strongly favorable to your wares. Combine that with mine, and many other’s policies of “do no harm” and the worst thing that could happen is that we just don’t do an article, or skip on the wines we didn’t like.

I think that the worst I ever heard happen was a story told by Marvin Shackman from Wine Spectator when he said that the Gallo Brothers found him on the beach on family vacation and wanted to know why their wine only scored in the 80s. Marvin, who has impeccable integrity, told them that if they wanted 90s they should turn in better wine.

Well, Parker and Suckling, were found to be doing this kind of behavior, and even collecting fees for favorable write ups, which goes beyond accepting a free tasting. Suckling had one incidence of accepting a $24,000 bribe.

The worst comes in the denial. Both Parker and Suckling are suing an threatening suits because other journalists found them out. If you don’t think that will make their write ups and scores worth a dung heap I don’t know what will.

I am not a big writer like those guys. I only really do it as a hobby for the most part. If I were to buy the thousands of dollars in wine that I drink each year for my Eastern Oregonian wages ($0 to date) I would have to be destitute or a millionaire.

This is my promise to you. I will be honest with you at all times. If someone gives me a bottle to write up I’ll always let you know it. If they buy me dinner I’ll be sure and mention it. If they fly me to their private estate and serve me on golden platters I’ll rave about it. That is my promise to you as a wine writer with a few shreds of integrity left.

Until, next week...Enjoy!

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