Tasting Notes contains just that notes on wines I have tasted!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Your Wines

Dear Winery/Distributor,

Thanks for your email and the offer to review your wines. Unfortunately I do not accept wines for review through the mail. All the wines that I review are either purchased or tasted during visits to selected wine regions. In the latter case I will either taste as a member of the general public or if I have a special interest in a winery I will try to organize a tasting with individuals involved with the winery (perferably the winemaker). The main reason for my not accepting wines for review is that it removes any conflict of interest on my part, and as much bias from my reviews as possible. And, of course, any tasting that I do at wineries is something that the public can do if they have the motivation to contact the wineries and organize an individual tasting.

However this is not to say that I am not interested in tasting your wines. If you can supply me with the names of retail outlets for your wines in the San Diego area it is possible that I may purchase some to review in the future. My main interest is Syrah/Shiraz but I do taste more wines than I actually record on my blog.

Thanks again for your interest,


Anonymous Fredric Koeppel said...

MIke, you have to get over the idea that accepting samples from wineries presents a conflict of interest. I have been writing about wine since 1984, first (for 20 years) in a national weekly newspaper column and now on www.koeppelonwine.com since Dec. 2004. I was book review editor of my newspaper for 15 years and I also wrote about classical music recordings. Where do you think all the books (thousands upon thousands) come from? Where do you think all the music CDs come from? From the publishers and recording companies, of course. And so it is with wine. Wineries send out dozens, hundreds of sample bottles (depending on production of course). And they send winemakers and PR people on the road and put on tastings or take you to lunch. I buy a lot of wine too, and go to trade tastings, but it would be impossible to review many wines with out the samples. The wineries are not asking for a great review, though they would like it. They actually want you to be honest. Above all, saying that it would be a conflict of interest for you to write about a sample bottle doesn't say much for the most important quality of a critic, the ability to be objective and fair at all costs. This is none of my business, naturally, but I saw your blog and your post and thought perhaps you wouldn't mind some advice from a veteran.

6:02 AM

Blogger Mike said...


Many thanks for your note. I welcome all comments on this subject, especially from someone with your professional experience.

I have given a lot of thought on how best to provide objective tasting notes without appearing to be in conflict. It is very clear that it is not as black and white as the note on my blog paints it (or as a critic like Robert Parker may wish to appear). It can be difficult to know what to do when you visit a winery and your meal at the associated restaurant ends up being provided for free, or you get special treatment because the winery owners know that you have an internet presence and they may get free advertising if they put on a good show for you. I think most reviewers handle these situations differently. I try to be upfront about it to my readers so that they have complete knowledge of what I’m doing.

In terms of accepting free wine samples, I realized once I started to put my tasting notes up on a blog that the situation could get quite complicated. In the past I’d always paid my way in terms of buying wines, or if I’d visited a winery I’d done so because I was interested in the wines and the winery owner/winemaker was kind enough to show their wines. Now that I am putting my thoughts out into cyberspace instead of a file cabinet doors open a little more easily and folks are a little more expectant when they hand me a taste of their wine. That is a situation that can be easily abused on both sides. So I made a decision that I would review wines on Tasting Notes that were purchased, and I would talk about wine in general on my other blog Shiraz. I also describe winery visits in Shiraz and the wines tasted, although this in mainly only our annual visit to Australia. (Classic Wines on Tasting Notes is the best of wines purchased and tasted at winery visits.) I feel the separation of blogs is important because having purchased a wine to review on Tasting Notes I don’t feel as though I owe a winery any debt of gratitude for their generosity in allowing me to visit them and taste their wines because I may or may not write about them on Shiraz.

Of course another reason for not accepting samples is simple logistics. There is just so much time in the day to drink wine, and right now I’m finding it hard enough to scrap together enough time to even post on my blogs – I have a pile of tasting notes that need to be posted.


2:28 PM

Anonymous Alcohol Addiction Info said...

With the multitude of stories in the news about people who have received multiple DUIs, the increased police and legal crackdowns on drunk drivers, and the horror stories of alcohol-related fatalities it seems to me that you and other wine lovers (and wine tasters) need to get your message out to more people. Let people know that drinking wine in moderation has been shown to have many health benefits. Spread the news about the fun and good times you have experienced with wine drinking and wine tasting :-)

3:37 PM

Blogger Mike said...

A brief comment on the above post. I have allowed this post to stand as it does lead to a site with information that may be of use to those who may have an alcohol consumption problem. However be warned the site does not, as far as I can tell, have any information at all on the many health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. It is a shame that people with hidden agendas post these types of comments. Fortunately we wine drinkers can rise above our alcohol soaked haze to see the whole picture!


4:53 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are now featured on Wine-Searcher

Dear Michael,

I’m writing on behalf of Wine-Searcher.com, a web search engine dedicated to wine. Among plenty of other features, Wine-Searcher offers tasting notes for the searched items which are sourced using Google’s Custom Search facility. It is in this context that I’d like to inform you that we’ve included your website as one of the sources for this information. This means that anyone looking for wine reviews on Wine-Searcher that matches your site’s content will be re-directed to your site. Please let us know if you do not wish to be listed and we’ll remove your listing.

Should you wish to further collaborate with Wine-Searcher, we provide a number of options that you may wish to consider - http://www.wine-searcher.com/wine-html.lml.

If you’d like to suggest any other sites for this purpose please let us know.

Please feel free to get back to me if you have any queries. I look forward to hearing from you soon and thanks in advance.

Wine-Searcher traffic stats can be viewed here http://www.wine-searcher.com/traffic.lml.

Kind regards

Janice B Brown
The Search Engine for Wines
Tel: +64 9 815 1656
Mob: +64 21 495 250
Email: keke@wine-searcher.com

This email and any attachments are confidential and are intended solely for the recipient named above. You should not read, copy, use or disclose their contents without authorisation. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact Wine-Searcher immediately by return email and then delete both messages. This email and its attachments may contain copyright material. We do not accept liability for any loss or damage caused by negligence or other means, in connection with any computer virus, delay, interruption, unauthorised access or unauthorised amendment. www.wine-searcher.com is our registered trademark.

12:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


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We wanted to see if you would be interested in joining the network. Here would be the benefits:

1) We would use your site feed and feed in the first 200 characters of your post and link back to you as a means of driving traffic to your site.

2) We will link you from our main blog page.

In return we will ask for a 125X125 widget on the sidebar of your blog.

Let us know if this is something you would be interested in.


Brandon Schrey

4:15 PM


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