This week’s Blogger in the Spotlight, RJ’s Wine Blog comes to us from Seattle, Washington. RJ’s Wine Blog caught my eye because he’s got a little bit of everthing going on; interviews, summations, commentary and reviews; but the one thing about RJ’s Wine Blog that runs consistent throughout his blog is that he believes wine is not about ratings, hype, price or what others like, it’s about what you like (as he states in his bio) and I agree. Wine drinkers all start somewhere, their tastes evolve, they expand their wine world, they find what they like and ultimately experience all they can with that varietal. RJ’s Wine Blog presents the facts straight up and you make your own decision. RJ’s Wine Blogs’ information is easy to read and easy to understand. This blog is a good reference tool highlighting wines you may not be familar with and never heard of; this ultimately is where you want to be…discovering that great wine and sharing it with your world. Discover new dimensions within your wine world with this week’s great wine blogger in the spotlight, RJ’s Wine Blog.
South Florida Food and Wine: How did you start wine writing?
RJ’s Wine Blog: I guess you could say I kind of fell into it. My buddy Jason over at Jason’s Wine Blog is not only as clever with his wine blog naming as I am, but also a good friend and THE authority on Trader Joe’s wines. He and I were talking about wine a few years back and he suggested I start a blog – he thought I knew about a lot of wine and I had a passion for it, so why not? I played around with it for a few weeks and then decided I would go for it. I wrote a post every day for 60 days. That’s a lot more content than I thought it would be, but I found a nice groove and really enjoyed it. At first, I believe 3 people a day read the blog (which was most likely my very kind sisters), but at the end of those 60 days, I started getting comments and questions from strangers asking my opinion about wine, which gave me the energy to keep going.
South Florida Food and Wine: Do you do anything else other than write about wine?
RJ’s Wine Blog: As odd as this may sound, I also drink wine.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most challenging thing about wine writing?
RJ’s Wine Blog: Trying to make tasting notes feel authentic and real, while also giving readers something useful and applicable to their own wine world. Sometimes, I go back and look at my own tasting notes and I can’t figure out a word I’ve just said. It happens most often when I try to identify every last element, down to the oak and the vanilla and the specific fruit and whether or not it’s cassis or northern hemisphere cassis (I got that last one from someone else – I still have no idea what it means). But, if the aroma reminds me of an indoor swimming pool or a handful of dirty rocks after standing out in a rainstorm, that, to me at least, is more interesting than if I were to pull from my handy “how to write a tasting note” reference guide. Doesn’t work for everybody, but it does for me and I’m amazed when others tell me they smell the same thing. What I find to be less challenging, which was a surprise to me, is the story aspect of writing. It’s a lot of work and I don’t always accomplish what I want, but I always love working on a story, something that conveys the experience of wine. For example, a few years back, my wife and I were tasting in Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon and we went into a very small winery named Devitt. The proprietor was clearly not all that excited to have customers, so I made it a point to see if I could break through – I knew if I could there was a great story there. Turns out he had a very long and rich history with wine and winemaking and it provided a great framework for a story
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the greatest opportunity that has come from writing for you?
RJ’s Wine Blog: I’ve been exposed to some pretty cool things since starting RJ’s Wine Blog, but, honestly, the greatest opportunity that’s come from this is the creative outlet. I’ve written on and off my whole life, but fell into a non-writing mode for several years a while back. The blog has allowed me to take two passions and combine them into one.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your most memorable writing moment?
RJ’s Wine Blog: My most memorable writing moment was in college [cue the turntable with Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days] when I was supposed to write a paper for arguably the hardest literature professor at our University. I only remembered the day before that it was due, just about the same time my roommate told me he was throwing a party at our house that night. So, throughout the night, I went from the attic computer upstairs to the party downstairs, back and forth, until dawn. I handed in my paper that morning and went back to bed. The next week, the professor had made a copy of my paper for everyone in the class and said “this is what I’m talking about.” I had never seen her pass out anyone’s paper before or after that. It’s the little victories that make me happy, I guess.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the best wine advice you have to share?
RJ’s Wine Blog: Trust what you taste. If you don’t like it, don’t let anyone tell you that you do, for whatever reason. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment, or listen to what others have to say because that’s the only way you can expand your palate and find the wines that you like, but, if you don’t like what you experiment with, move on. Too many times I’ve seen people doubt their own palates because other people around them talk about it as if it was the second coming. A few weeks back at a tasting I attended, there was a wine that was being hyped as one of the “buzz” wines among hundreds of wines. People were going crazy over it and professing their love for it as if it were their own child. A buddy and I tasted it, gave it a hearty “eh, I’ve had better” and moved on. Maybe I missed something, or maybe I just don’t know good wine from bad wine, but, in that case, it felt like a waste of my time to try and figure out why everyone else thought it was so good.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is your one obsessive wine habit?
RJ’s Wine Blog: Not sure I can narrow it down to just one, but if I had to pick a current one, it would be temperature. My wife and I just set up a new wine cellar and, since we had an underground space with very thick, double insulated walls, we decided to go with a passive approach to cooling (meaning, we did not install a cooling unit). I have 5 temperature sensors in the cellar that keep track of the room as well as send me warnings if the temp or humidity get over a certain threshold. Last week, the outside temperatures got into the 90’s and, well, let’s just say I got a little obsessive about the increase in temperature. All good in the end as the insulation did its job, but of all the things I had to stress about last week, this was probably top of my list.
South Florida Food and Wine: If you could choose to be any wine, what would it be?
RJ’s Wine Blog: A very expensive wine, with incredibly high ratings and lots of buzz, so I could make a ton of money and vacation with all my other friends who are also expensive, highly rated wines.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the best wine accessory you own?
RJ’s Wine Blog: I’m either a simple man or a man who’s notorious for breaking things (corkscrews, wineglasses, etc.), but the best accessory I have is my trusty waiter’s corkscrew. Simple, functional and the only corkscrew I somehow haven’t destroyed over the years.
South Florida Food and Wine: What is the most bizarre thing you ever did with food or wine?
RJ’s Wine Blog: Started a wine blog.
South Florida Food and Wine: Where was the best wine you ever had? And why?
RJ’s Wine Blog: Red wine. I like it better than white wine.
South Florida Food and Wine: If you could share a bottle of wine with anyone who would it be and why?
RJ’s Wine Blog: My wife, because she knows so much more about wine than I do.
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