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Who is the Wine World’s Anna Nicole Smith?

anna-nicole-smith-picture-11.jpg

Did we get your attention?! How could anyone possibly compare Anna Nicole Smith to wine? As unbelievable as this may sound, last night, we saw a video from the TED Conference that really put this idea into perspective. The TED conference describes itself as:

TED began in 1984 as a conference devoted to the converging fields of technology, entertainment and design. Over the years, the scope has broadened. But the formula remains the same: Gather the world’s leading thinkers and doers; offer them four days of rapid-fire stimulation. The result? Unexpected connections. Extraordinary insights. Powerful inspiration.


Fortunate for us, they also publish their speeches online at Ted.com. These talks are provided, free of charge, for you to both enjoy or spread to others. The TED Talk video we want to mention today disclosed the bias that US media coverage has towards specific subjects. But before we get into our take on it, we ask that you stop reading to watch this short, 5 minute video.

(people reading this in their RSS reader may need to click through to see the video)

What did you think? Shocked, amazed or did it simply reinforcing previous beliefs? This video left Ryan and I wondering if we would see similar exaggerations of scale if applied to wine media? Let me clarify that this topic of biased world media is a much more grave situation than the subject of wine bias, but it’s still a fun exercise to partake in!

So what do you think are the areas that are grossly over-covered in the world of wine? What areas do you feel are being neglected? I wonder what the map would look like if we restricted it to wines both tasted and written about. I, personally, have a myriad of bubble like maps dancing through my mind as I type this, but I want to hear what you think. What are the regions that we should probably give a break to, and what regions deserve a bit more coverage? Who is our Anna Nicole Smith?

Food for thought,

Gabriella and Ryan

  • Chef Mark

    3 words: California Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Philip James

    Ryan – thats great, although a little scary. I'm English, and used to work in finance. I remember first coming here and looking at company annual reports and seeing US revenue, and then RoW revenue. It took me a while to realise that RoW meant Rest of World, and then it dawned on me that RoW is seen as a single country by far too many people. Napa / Bordeaux / Budgundy = Anna / Paris / Brittney respectively…

  • http://www.snooth.com Philip James

    Ryan – thats great, although a little scary. I’m English, and used to work in finance. I remember first coming here and looking at company annual reports and seeing US revenue, and then RoW revenue.

    It took me a while to realise that RoW meant Rest of World, and then it dawned on me that RoW is seen as a single country by far too many people.

    Napa / Bordeaux / Budgundy = Anna / Paris / Brittney respectively…

  • Chef Mark

    3 words: California Cabernet Sauvignon

  • RichardA

    First, the video raised my own skepticism about the potential bias of their map and study. Which "news" media did they include in their study? And was it fair and/or accurate to include all "news" media? The Anna Nicole comment is what really got me thinking in this vein. I suspect the map and studies included much "entertainment news" such as TV shows like Entertainment Tonight and news magazines like People and US. I don't think including such news gives an accurate depiction and distorts the map. I know that regular city newspapers and local news stations certainly did not make Anna Nicole the #1 story. It would only be by including the entertainment news that would be the case. What would the map look like if we eliminated the entertainment news? Sure, it would still be more weighted to the U.S., but probably not to the same degree as the map in the video. Second, how does foriegn media stack up on their own maps? Are they biased as well? I would suspect they are as well. It is only natural to talk more about your own country, where the most pressing problems and news is located. That is not necessarily a bad thing. When you get together with friends or family, how much of your time is spent discussing international issues and how much on more local matters? Third, I do believe the wine media has their own biases as well, sometimes concentrating more on local wines than wines from other regions. How many wine bloggers from California concentrate more on CA wines than European ones? How much do European blogs discuss CA wines? When discussing fine wines, don't French wines get far more coverage? There are also specific topics they come and go, rising in popularity so that they are everywhere. Rants against the 100 pt rating system, discussions of high alcohol wines and terroir. Even climate change has reached a point of media overkill. There are plenty of wine regions which receive little attention. Morocco, Israel, India, China, Lebanon, Slovenia, and others. There are topics we probably don't discuss enough. And it is us bloggers who often have the ability to talk about these issues. We generally have few restrictions, except self-imposed, about what we can write about.

  • Gabriella

    Interesting points Richard! I can tell you that from my perspective looking at the news both in our local newspapers and tv stations, more than 1/2 of the news is NOT focused on Spain, but instead, Europe, and to a lesser extent, the rest of the world. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen Obama's or Hilary's picture plastered on the front page of El Pais in the past 6 months, or current events in China, Nepal, India, Honduras or North Korea. It seems to me, that I've learned more about the world in the past 3 yeas living here than I ever had living in the States, only because it's more easily accessible to me. Where I see the largest imbalance in news coverage is Spain's inability to fairly cover the entire country as a whole. While we learn a considerable amount about Catalunya every day, it is more difficult for me to find information about Galicia, Andalusia or Pais Vasco (with the exception of events related to ETA) than it is about issues effecting Catalunya. Other biases include covering issues affecting Portugal. Although they're our neighbors, we rarely hear news of their current situation. That said, I would argue that, at least for Spain, we tend to hear a considerable amount about the rest of the world. If we talk about food and wine, however, Spain tends to only provide information about Spanish food and wine, a fact I am sad to admit. And to make matters worst, typically, the information is also regionally focused, not even incorporating other regional cuisines or wines. What I like is that you offered suggestions of regions you would like to learn more about, as would I. Yet you mentioned that our restrictions are self-imposed. I can at least say for us here in Spain, there is no way we could write about wine from countries like Slovenia, even if we wanted to, because we can't get our hands on it. We're lucky to find wines from close neighbors like Italy or Portugal. Therefore, even though wine bloggers are more free to choose the content they wish to write about, I think availability is a key issue.

  • RichardA

    Hi Gabriella: I certainly agree with you that availability is a significant factor when writing about wines from different regions. It is difficult to find wines from the less known countries, such as the ones I mentioned. Though I feel fortunate that I can find local wine stores where I can sometimes acquire such wines. And I usually buy them just to taste them. My comment on self-imposed restrictions more referred to niche blogs that concentrate on certain regions or wines. For example, as Catavino is largely an Iberian wine blog, I would not expect to see reviews of wines from Lebanon or Israel. Same as I would not expect to see such reviews at Lenndevours. Thanks

  • http://www.passionatefoodie.blogspot.com RichardA

    First, the video raised my own skepticism about the potential bias of their map and study. Which “news” media did they include in their study? And was it fair and/or accurate to include all “news” media? The Anna Nicole comment is what really got me thinking in this vein.

    I suspect the map and studies included much “entertainment news” such as TV shows like Entertainment Tonight and news magazines like People and US. I don’t think including such news gives an accurate depiction and distorts the map. I know that regular city newspapers and local news stations certainly did not make Anna Nicole the #1 story. It would only be by including the entertainment news that would be the case. What would the map look like if we eliminated the entertainment news? Sure, it would still be more weighted to the U.S., but probably not to the same degree as the map in the video.

    Second, how does foriegn media stack up on their own maps? Are they biased as well? I would suspect they are as well. It is only natural to talk more about your own country, where the most pressing problems and news is located. That is not necessarily a bad thing. When you get together with friends or family, how much of your time is spent discussing international issues and how much on more local matters?

    Third, I do believe the wine media has their own biases as well, sometimes concentrating more on local wines than wines from other regions. How many wine bloggers from California concentrate more on CA wines than European ones? How much do European blogs discuss CA wines? When discussing fine wines, don’t French wines get far more coverage? There are also specific topics they come and go, rising in popularity so that they are everywhere. Rants against the 100 pt rating system, discussions of high alcohol wines and terroir. Even climate change has reached a point of media overkill.

    There are plenty of wine regions which receive little attention. Morocco, Israel, India, China, Lebanon, Slovenia, and others. There are topics we probably don’t discuss enough. And it is us bloggers who often have the ability to talk about these issues. We generally have few restrictions, except self-imposed, about what we can write about.

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

    Interesting points Richard! I can tell you that from my perspective looking at the news both in our local newspapers and tv stations, more than 1/2 of the news is NOT focused on Spain, but instead, Europe, and to a lesser extent, the rest of the world. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen Obama’s or Hilary’s picture plastered on the front page of El Pais in the past 6 months, or current events in China, Nepal, India, Honduras or North Korea. It seems to me, that I’ve learned more about the world in the past 3 yeas living here than I ever had living in the States, only because it’s more easily accessible to me.

    Where I see the largest imbalance in news coverage is Spain’s inability to fairly cover the entire country as a whole. While we learn a considerable amount about Catalunya every day, it is more difficult for me to find information about Galicia, Andalusia or Pais Vasco (with the exception of events related to ETA) than it is about issues effecting Catalunya. Other biases include covering issues affecting Portugal. Although they’re our neighbors, we rarely hear news of their current situation.

    That said, I would argue that, at least for Spain, we tend to hear a considerable amount about the rest of the world. If we talk about food and wine, however, Spain tends to only provide information about Spanish food and wine, a fact I am sad to admit. And to make matters worst, typically, the information is also regionally focused, not even incorporating other regional cuisines or wines.

    What I like is that you offered suggestions of regions you would like to learn more about, as would I. Yet you mentioned that our restrictions are self-imposed. I can at least say for us here in Spain, there is no way we could write about wine from countries like Slovenia, even if we wanted to, because we can’t get our hands on it. We’re lucky to find wines from close neighbors like Italy or Portugal. Therefore, even though wine bloggers are more free to choose the content they wish to write about, I think availability is a key issue.

  • http://www.passionatefoodie.blogspot.com RichardA

    Hi Gabriella:
    I certainly agree with you that availability is a significant factor when writing about wines from different regions. It is difficult to find wines from the less known countries, such as the ones I mentioned. Though I feel fortunate that I can find local wine stores where I can sometimes acquire such wines. And I usually buy them just to taste them.

    My comment on self-imposed restrictions more referred to niche blogs that concentrate on certain regions or wines. For example, as Catavino is largely an Iberian wine blog, I would not expect to see reviews of wines from Lebanon or Israel. Same as I would not expect to see such reviews at Lenndevours.

    Thanks

  • Robert

    drat! I thought we were going to get another set of Gabriella's spa photos! :)

  • http://www.wineconversation.com Robert

    drat! I thought we were going to get another set of Gabriella’s spa photos!
    :)

  • RichardA

    I was pleased with the May issue of Decanter, as they had articles on wine in Morocco, India and China. It was great to see more diverse articles, touching on lesser known wine regions.

  • Robert

    actually, on that point I meant to say that decanter.com has been running a poll on their site as to whether readers think they focus too much on Bordeaux, and the majority say "yes, you need to look at other areas more" so … who knows!

  • http://www.passionatefoodie.blogspot.com RichardA

    I was pleased with the May issue of Decanter, as they had articles on wine in Morocco, India and China. It was great to see more diverse articles, touching on lesser known wine regions.

  • http://www.wineconversation.com Robert

    actually, on that point I meant to say that decanter.com has been running a poll on their site as to whether readers think they focus too much on Bordeaux, and the majority say “yes, you need to look at other areas more” so … who knows!

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