Oenophilia – An obsessive disorder or just a way of life?

Swirl, Sniff, and Spit with your friend, Patrick

Archive for Controversies

Someone Just doesn’t get IT

So what did it take to bring me out of my self-imposed blogging retirement?  A great concept was recently publicly misrepresented and maligned in a reply to a celebratory blog posting.  Twitter Taste Live has grown to be one of the most popular regular wine events ever.  Affectionately referred to by its hashtag #TTL, Twitter Taste Live, and it’s upcoming April 14th Hospice du Rhone tasting, was promoted and praised by by the Santa Rosa Press Democrat‘s Heather Irwin.  Ms. Irwin is a member of the main-stream media who is also keeps a great blog called Bite Club (Be sure to check out her postings!)

Back to my indignation!  Some luddite who “doesn’t get it” chose to really try to ridicule #TTL and it’s followers in quite a nasty tone.  Rather than use Ms. Irwin’s blog as a forum for mudslinging, I have chosen to come back to the world of “Macro-Blogging” and let my legions of devoted followers know what has gotten my Irish up – even if only my name and liver are Irish!

Here’s the recap:


This is social networking gone too far.  I am all for Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Digg, LinkedIn, etc., but these kind of events are simply asinine. How terribly inconvenient and old-school it must be to communicate with people using your voice and words and expressions. How awkward it must be to actually interact with people you are in a room with without using a BlackBerry or iPhone. The need to publish your thoughts (of the moment) to a group who are either right next to you, or are not next to you and have no frame of reference is just silly. And if you’ve ever read the “transcripts” of these kind of events you know what it is to want to own a gun and draw a target on your temple. The arrogance of public wine-tasting combined with the arrogance of Twitter (you know, that idea that people actually care what you’re doing at all times and where you’re doing it?) makes for a foul-tasting blend of narcissism and desperation. A delight for budget bloggers and self-promoters, but also a tragic and transparent attempt at “connecting” with the next generation of wine drinkers through technology instead of taste-buds.”Online Tasting.” Wow. It says it all right there and yet people still pay money to participate in such garbage “events.” Let’s keep going and try “Online Molecular Gastronomy,” “Online Farmer’s Markets,” and “Online Culinary Arts Certificates.” I might have to wait for the NYTimes to come down on this joke of a social experience for it to wind down, but really? It’s already done.


Twitter Taste Live has been going on for a year now and has continued to grow in popularity! The wines that will be tasted are published in advance at http://www.twittertastelive.com – along with some convenient suggestions as to where they might be purchased on-line. People meet at the agreed time and contribute using all sorts of social media. Usually there are gatherings to share the bottles and expense with other tasters, but when I can’t get a babysitter, my wife and I taste in our living room. We have a great time discussing the wines we are tasting with our friends who are on-line and tasting as well.

Last month, about two dozen tasters gathered at Healdsburg’s very cool Palette Art Cafe to taste several Pinot Noir together and then share their notes, thoughts, and opinions with the hundreds of others who were trying the same wines simultaneously at the Jug Shop in S.F. as well as in other places around the country. We also had tasters Tweeting in from the U.K. and China! Not only did we get to taste some interesting wines, we also enjoyed some great food at one of the grooviest establishments in Sonoma County.

The days of the snooty grand somellier tasting out of a silver “Tastevin” are at an end. The wine critic no longer has the last say. We have entered the era where anyone can sip some wine and tell anyone else what they think about it. The goal of #TTL is to engage more and more people in conversations about something they enjoy. Voyeurs are welcome – but it is really all about tasting together. Tasting wine and sharing has been around for a very long time. Now our reach is even broader with Twitter, 12seconds, viddler, UStream, Facebook, Skype, Ning communities, our own websites and so many others.

Heaps of Sonoma County wine lovers will pour into Estate on April 17. Hundreds others will get together in restaurants, bars, and dining rooms all around the world. Why not join in the fun? http://www.twittertastelive.com or #TTL if you are on Twitter!

There it is folks.  I chose to not even address this fellow’s diatribe, but rather just tell people what Twitter Taste Live is about for me.  Go on to Bite Club and read Ms. Irwin’s really wonderful posting about Twitter Taste Live.  Then see what has gone on in the comments and be sure to be productive when you chose to take on the apostates!  See you on the 17th!!!

What’s a blocked blogger to do? What isn’t he to do?

I have been so conspicuous by my lack of postings that many who just followed this blog feared I had fallen into a tank of white zinfandel.  Until the muse strikes me (upside the head and really hard for not having paid attention to her screaming at me for the past severl months), look for me as Patrick Llerena on Facebook and @Oenophilus on Twitter.  If you are interested in what I may have to say about other wines I have tasted recently, look for reviews by Oenophilus on Snooth and @OenoTweets on Twitter.

So what have I really been doing?  Other than pounding the V.C. pavement to help us grow Iridesse Wines, we have devoted much of our energy to our Iridesse Winery Consulting company.  Are you in the Wine Biz?  Do you want to be in the Wine Biz?  Do you want to stay in the Wine Biz?  Our company Iridesse Winery Consulting had a website, a blog, a Facebook Group Page, a Facebook Fan Page, and always room for more clients! We do “Soup to Nuts” coverage for just about anything with which a company may need some help harnessing to give them an extra push in this economy.


Where the Pf#<% have I been?

The Wine Bloggers Conference starts today so I thought I should get up off of my Divan (where I have been swirling, sniffing, and not-spitting while contemplating the complexities things enological) and get blogging.  Where have I been?  Why have you not been either educated or entertained at this once ever so hip URL?  Lots of lame excuses…some not so lame…but excuses none the less.  ENOUGH!

After from some serious misunderstandings with WordPress upon moving my domain, I have decided that a few brilliant posts from recent months are lost to the ether.  We have also been really focused on the development of our business – moving from a small botique brand into a larger wine company.  As many of you will know, the hunt for venture capital is always a rollercoaster ride.  The global economic crisis hit just as we were moving forward and has made things as nerve-wracking for us as for millions of others. So enough with the excuses.  I’m back and  blogging with a vengeance!

September saw a cool, last-minute, short-notice trip to Germany.  Unfortunately, we went to the only part of Germany that makes NO wine.  No prob.  We tried new and interesting wines from all over and drank even more beer. Look for pics on Flickr, videos on Viddler, and reviews on Snooth.

I did my usual turn as the Wine Educator for the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.  Over 300 smart folks realized if they went to my Wine 101 workshop, they would get to drink free wine. I did learn this year, that if I didn’t spit, I was much funnier by the third class of the day! I did seven over the course of the weekend with 8-14 wines poured at each class depending on my mood.  I also got to get on my soapbox about my favorite topics ranging from the politics of organic certification to new closures vs. cork to “Chardonnay/Sulphur/red wine/California wines give me headaches.  What should I do?”  WooHoo! Lots of fun and we tried some great wines.

My sister-in-law Samantha (btw: Happy B-day to you!) , who took over operations of Chateau Felice when Genevieve & I left about two years ago this week, got married there at the winery.  Beautiful bride.  Great new husband.  Lots of yummy wine. A grand family gathering.

Malia started First Grade.  I had to cope with my daughter now going to real school – sitting at real desks and bringing home real homework.  Yikes.  She now will occasionally call me, “Dude” before I remind her that, “I am not ‘Dude’, I am ‘Daddy’.”  Zoinks!  She is so incredibly beautiful – especially with her toothless, first-grade smile – and she constantly amazes me.

I am halway through my CERT training.  That is the Community Emergency Response Team made up of trained volunteers who will be able to assist emergency personnel as first-responders in the case of a catastrophe.  As you may know, here in California we are just waiting for the BIG ONE to hit.  This has been very valuable information for me and I highly encourage anyone who can to contact their Fire Department and inquire about these programs in your area.

Now I am off to hang with about 200 of the coolest geeks!  The are many more of us waiting to fill the world with our thoughts and opinons about wine, but alas, not all can gather at the river of Bacchus this weekend.  I’ll be keeping you all updated throughout the weekend.


Zinc Nasal Gel May Kill Your Sense of Smell

According to the calendar, those of us who live in the northern hemisphere should be well into spring. For some of us, that means a couple of feet of snow or inches of rain. Nasty bud-killing frosts aside, sunny California is…well, you know, sunny. Either way, the viciousness of this winter’s colds is still haunting many and the misery of spring’s allergies has taken over our noses and eyes.

I thought I’d take this moment to remind all my fellow bloggers, reviewers, judges, vintners, winos, and everyone else – DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES PUT ANY COLD REMEDY CONTAINING ZINC INTO YOUR NOSE!!! There is a medically documented possibility that applying topical zinc through one’s nasal membranes can cause temporary or permanent loss of one’s sense of smell – Anosmia.

Yes, gentle reader. I said using the only ingredient in over-the-counter remedies that has been proven to lessen the symptoms and duration of the common cold may incapacitate your schnozz. Zinc may halt your honker. Zinc may prejudice your proboscis. Zinc may bust your beak. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, that anatomical implement which allows us to enjoy that which has brought us together this day in cyberspace is in grave peril! My friends, the organ with which we unravel the mysteries of the universe as presented by the “Fruit of the Vine, Work of Human Hands” is endangered by an ordinary cold remedy. Simply put: you may no longer be able to smell your wine.

This has been batted around the medical journals and courts for years. Many of you may already avoid topical zinc for this reason. There is only a chance that use may cause this catastrophic result. But WHY RISK IT?

These are just five citations of the many that draw attention to this:






If you can’t imagine your life without sticking your nose in a glass of wine, find another way to unstuff your nose!

Children and Wine hits the AP

A while back, Tom Wark of FERMENTATION and the SWRA asked for our input in how we involve kids in the world of wine, which led to a contest for the cutest picture of a kid in a winery. All of this caught the attention of AP reporter Victoria Brett who followed the trail of blog comments back to my wife and me.

Several conversations later and a visit to our dinner table by an AP photographer, Victoria wrote her article. I discovered today that it began to be disseminated throughout the media last week. I know. I should keep a closer watch on my Google Alerts. The article has already appeared in a few newspapers and blogs. The easiest to read at this time is on the Dallas Morning News Website from this morning. Victoria did a nice job of presenting the arguments and was able to synthesize our hours of conversation into a few sentences.

I look forward to the continuing conversation. It has been very lively over at Catavino as Gabriella led us in a discussion over the place of wine and winemaking in education. Be sure that you also check out the post and comments from RichardA, A Passionate Foodie. Alcohol is certainly a volatile topic (Sorry. Bad enology joke.) which can make for a minefield when we are in discourse from the point of winemakers, wine retailers, wine drinkers, and now as parents or those concerned for the welfare of children.

Again, read the AP article here as well as see four great family photos by AP photographer, Eric Risberg and add your two glasses worth to the ongoing dialogue in the blogosphere. We all raise a glass to you!

Family Toast