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Looking Back and Looking Forward

January 8, 2016 14 comments

VineyardsI’m sure you guessed from the title and the timing of this post that I want to talk about past year 2015 and freshly minted 2016. Yep, I’m predictable like that, you are correct.
So how was 2015 for 2015 for Talk-a-Vino in my own eyes? Great, but challenging. Very challenging. 2016 will be equally difficult, with great potential to be even more challenging, a lot more.
Sure, I will explain. Nothing happened with my love of wine or passion for blogging – both are as strong as ever. What I had (and will have) a problem with is time – my main line of work (the one which pays the bills, you know) is incomparably busier than two years back, and finding quiet time for the labor of love is now not easy at all. No, I’m not complaining, just explaining the change in cadence of the posts coming out.
Talking about 2015, there were few new things which I started doing. During the year, I was offered a few opportunities to meet with the winemakers, and was unable to find time – this is how the concept of virtual interviews came to life. I realized that even when I can’t sit down with the person in the same room, I can still ask questions – and get great answers. I also offered to profile wine apps for any of the app producers who would be interested, and so far had 3 posts in that series – by the way, the offer still stands if anyone is interested.
From the things which I didn’t like so much, but they still happened in 2015, was stopping the series of the Saturday wine quizzes. I had lots of fun creating those, but reached the point when it became very difficult to create challenging, but fun questions, so I had to stop the series, at least for the time being.
What should you expect in 2016? I definitely will continue the virtual interviews – as a matter of fact, one of them is coming out very shortly. I also have good number of posts which I really should’ve written last year, but did not. There were wine dinners, there were tastings, there were winery visits which never made it into the posts. However, the subjects are still worth taking about, so you should expect to see some of those “posts from the past”. I don’t know if I will make a series out of those posts (as an engineer, I like to organize things, may be even more than necessary), add short intro to those posts, or simply put them out without any regards to the “past” – no matter, they will still appear on Talk-a-Vino pages.
2016 is on, so let’s raise the glass to all the fun things which are ahead of us. Cheers!

Categories: Blogging, Life, wine Tags: , , ,

Wednesday’s Meritage: #MWWC19 Theme, Stumbling Upon and more

August 12, 2015 5 comments

Meritage Time!

Let’s start with the theme for the new round of the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge, #19 (#MWWC19 for short). The winner of the previous round, Traveling Wine Chick, have chosen the theme, and it is (drum roll, please) … “Choice”. This theme sounds a lot simpler than many of the recent ones, such as “Crisis” or “Serendipity”, but there lies the challenge of making such a regular word a main element of the blog post. Well, good luck to all, and for all rules and regulations, please consult this post – most important is the submission deadline, which is September 14th, so you have enough time to get your creative juices flowing.

Vineyard and The Sky

Just for your viewing enjoyment – a picture from the recent trip to the vineyard – more details later

Next I want to mention that Wine Bloggers Conference 2015 (WBC15 for short) will be starting on Thursday, August 13th, and it is taking place in the Finger Lakes region. Lately, Finger Lakes wineries had been producing the wines of notice, moving past excellent whites into the world of reds. I’m sure that all the attendees will be into a treat and will find quite a few surprises, such as Saperavi wines – I heard that they are delicious, and wineries have a hard time to keep them around (sell out very quickly). I will not be attending, but I wish to all the bloggers to have a great time and taste a lot of great wines. And I’m really curious what the location of WBC16 will be – I hope it will be the Texas, as Texas wines are nothing short of phenomenal and it is time for the people to get to know them.

Now, let’s talk about an interesting subject – promotion of your blog. When it comes to the blogging, most of us write because we enjoy it – but we also want to be found and our writing to be enjoyed by others, and that is what “blog promotion” is all about. I recently came across an interesting article called 30 ways to promote your blog posts, which contains wealth of great advice. Among other tools, I saw a mention of Stumble Upon, which I heard before, but never used. I checked with some of Connecticut bloggers on Facebook, and many people find Stumble Upon a great tool, so I decided to add this capability for the blog post sharing. I learned that WordPress.com used to offer the Stumble Upon sharing button, but not anymore – but then I came across this post which provides detailed instructions on how Stumble Upon button can be added. Without talking about promotion, I found lots of interesting articles with the help of StumbleUpon – here is one example for you – “22 Foods You’ve Probably Been Eating The Wrong Way Until Now“. If you use Stumble Upon, I would like to know what is your take on it. And by the way, I don’t know if you are aware of the two pages I have in this blog, under the menu of Resources – one of them is called Best Blogging Tips and second one is Technical Tips for Bloggers – I use those pages to collect interesting articles and “how to” as it relates to the blogging – check them out.

Last for today, really a local update – I made changes to the page called Grapes of the World, to properly reflect all the grapes I tasted  so far in my Wine Century Club journey. Why is that important? Will tell you very soon.

And we are done here – the glass is empty – but the refill is on the way. Until the next time – cheers!

Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Blog Awards, #MWWC16, Making Money With Your Blog and more

April 9, 2015 10 comments

It’s been a while since I posted “Wednesday Meritage”, the wine world news potpourri, which used to come out like a clockwork every Wednesday. Well, anyway, there are many things I want to share, so the Meritage it is.

Let me start with the Wine Blog Awards subject. Wine Blog Awards is an annual endeavor since 2007, where the best (supposedly) blogs are recognized as standing out in a number of different categories (best writing, best photography and so on). After a few years of poor execution (2013 and 2014 nominations were announced too late and judging lacked clarity), there is seemingly a desire to make things right. Nomination period is now open until April 22nd, and submission can be made for all of the 8 different categories. And yes, if you like this very blog, I would greatly appreciate your nomination, which can be made here.

Next up is Monthly Wine Writing Challenge, now in its 16th reincarnation. The theme of the #MWWC16 is “Finish“, as assigned by the winner of the previous round Jim of jvb uncorked fame. The submission deadline is April 20th, which is less than 2 weeks away – if you plan to finish, the time to start is now. Don’t forget to tag your entry with #MWWC16 and share it on twitter with the same tag.

Now, let’s talk about the money. For those of you who invests countless hours into this product of your obsession, also known as a “blog”, tell me – have you ever thought “that would be awfully nice to get paid, even a little bit, for all that labor of love”? I don’t know about you, but I definitely had those thoughts. Of course this is not why we blog, but still, monetization of the blog is an interesting subject. Thus I want to bring to your attention an excellent assembly of the stories of the 7 bloggers who make money with their blogs, and they all make very decent money, at least in my opinion. If anything, this is an interesting food for thought, and you can find the link here. Also, just in case you are not aware of it, one of the pages in my blog is designated as a collection of the useful tips regarding blogging, search engine optimization and more – you might find it useful and it is available here. It is also available from the top menu under the “Resources”.

Next, I want to bring to your attention a new collaboration project, masterminded by the Margot from the Gather and Graze (which is a blog you should follow in its own right). The project is called The Dinner Party Collective, or TDPC for the short, and it will be focused on creation of the easy to replicate, seasonal menus for both hemispheres. 12 bloggers are set to collaborate on creating of the menus which will be also fully paired with the suggested wine selections. You can find and follow TDPC here, as well as on Twitter (@tdpcollective) and Facebook.

If you like spicy (hot!!!) food, and live in a close proximity of New York, or plan to visit the city in a few weeks, this might be an event for you. 3rd Annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo will take place April 25/26 in Brooklyn Expo Center in Brooklyn, New York. I’m sure it will be super hot and super interesting, so I’m really contemplating a visit. Here is the link with more information.

I started today’s post with some SSP (yep, the Shameless Self Promotion), and I want to finish with the same. I want to make sure you know that Talk-a-Vino blog has a page on the Facebook, which is used to share different tidbits of information, typically not making it into the blog posts here – wine fun facts, events, special deals and more. If you are on Facebook, and you are not following Talk-a-Vino page, question is – why not? You can solve this problem right here. If you are already following Talk-a-Vino page – thank you very much – how about suggesting it to your friends as well?

And lastly, without any connection to the wine world, I just want to finish this post with the song – again, it has nothing to do with the wine world, but I happened to like it, so.. why not? It resonates with my mood, so there:

And we are done here. Cheers!

 

 

A Few Blog Updates

March 11, 2015 11 comments

Talk-a-VinoActual title which I wanted to use for this short post was talking about SSP (Shameless Self Promotion, of course), but then I decided against it. However, this is what this post mostly is all about – a SSP, consisting of some “asks” and updates.

First, the “ask”. SAVEUR,  the “definitive culinary and culinary-travel magazine” (their own wording), is running its annual SAVEUR Blog Awards. There is at least one category there, “Best Wine Coverage”, where this blog might apply. If you like what you are reading and think this blog is worthy of a nomination, here is the link to do so:

http://www.saveur.com/article/contests/blog-awards-2015-nominate

Note that nominations will close on March 13th, so you have less than 2 days left. Apparently, the more nominations, the better it is, so … thank you!

Now, a few small updates regarding Talk-a-Vino and social media overall. After long hesitation, I created a Talk-a-Vino page on Facebook. The page had been live for about 9 month, and in addition to all of the blog posts, I share interesting wine news and articles there as well, so you might find it useful. Here is the link so you can follow the Talk-a-Vino page if you are not doing so already:

https://www.facebook.com/talkavino

In case you are using a blog reader, such as Bloglovin’, you can find my blog there as well – below is the “follow button” for your convenience:

Talk-A-Vino

Last note regarding social media – about 6 month ago, I finally made it to Instagram. I didn’t create a specific blog account there (yet), instead I created simply an account for myself, so while you will find some pictures of food and wine there, most of the stuff simply relates to the travel, places, nature, flowers and so on. I’m thinking about blog-specific Instagram account, but I don’t know how to manage two with an iphone – if you have any ideas, I would greatly appreciate an advice. In any case, feel free to connect with me on Instagram (@anatoli.l).

And before we close here, a “local update”. In general, I pay very little attention to the ratings of the specific wines. However, I’m curious to know the average ratings for the wines in the specific region for the specific year. That information can be found in so called Vintage Charts. There are many sources for the various vintage charts – some are region specific, and some cover whole lot of different regions. In case you ever need to find and compare the different vintage ratings, I created a new page here in this blog which you might find helpful – here is the link. On the page, you will find a collection of various Vintage Charts from the different sources.

And this is all I have for you on this Wine Wednesday. Have a glass of something tasty and cheers!

Happy New Year 2015! Also Wine Quiz Answer and #MWWC14 Theme

January 3, 2015 8 comments

New Year's SheepHappy New Year 2015! I wish you all Happy, Healthy and Peaceful year! I think if we can have just these three elements (our own and ours happiness, our own and ours health and peace in this fragile world), everything else will just fall in place.

While I’m a bit tempted to analyze the past year and to talk about the plans for the this year, I will not go there. 2014 was a very good year with lots of great experiences, and I can only wish for 2015 to be at least as good as the previous year. But what I actually plan to do over the next few weeks is to create a number of posts which will be still talking about the events of 2014 – the events which still hold personal relevance and cause a burning feeling of incompleteness as they were thought through probably a thousand times. So yes, this is something which you should expect.

Now, let me give you the answers for the last wine quiz #117, where you were supposed to guess the names of the wines based on the pictures of the top foil. Here are the pictures, now with the names of the wines:

When it comes to the answers, a number of people were able to properly name one of the wines. I would like to acknowledge Zak (no web site) who properly named 3 wines out of 5.  And I saw a number of comments promising to pay more attention to the bottle foils, which I’m glad to hear. There will be more of the quizzes like this, but I need to come across some new wines first.

Next up I want to bring to your attention that Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #14 ( dubbed #MWWC14) is in the full swing with the theme “Tradition“, as announced by the winner of the last round Bill of Duff’s Wines. You can find all the rules and regulations in this post, but the most important date you need to know is the submission deadline date, which will be Monday, January 26th. Get out of the holiday food coma and get your creative juices flowing!

The last note for today. For those of us who writes the blogs, we want our content to be found. At the same time, there is lots of content created everyday, so to be found, the content have to stand out. I recently came across an interesting article called How To Make User-Friendly (And Search-Engine Friendly) Scannable Content which I want to share with you, as it offers some of the good advice to all the writers. I also added this link to my Best Blogging Tips page so it will be easy to find in the future.

And that’s all I have for today. Enjoy your first weekend of 2015 and cheers!

 

An Eventful Friday – Sparkling, Port, Radio Talk Show and more

December 7, 2014 10 comments

Writer's Block Cabernet FrancAs you probably noticed, the number of posts on Talk-a-Vino is down very significantly. There are many reasons for that – different workload from my day time job, few time consuming projects we tackle at home, and of course the plain familiar writer’s block. Yep, the writer’s block – when there is lots running in your head, and you have a great difficulty to put something out on  the “paper”. I tried to address the last one using the wine, I would hope specially made for such an occasion – the wine called Writer’s Block and made by Steele Wines in California. I first saw this wine mentioned in the blog I follow, called Mrsugarbears, and as you might see in my comment to that post, “Must. Find. This. Wine” was the first thing I said. I found the wine, and I got the Cabernet Franc and Grenache to try, out of the vast variety of the wines under that “Writer’s Block” label (you can see the full line of wines here).

We opened the 2011 Writer’s Block Cabernet Franc Lake County, California (13.8% ABV, $17) – it had eucalyptus, tobacco and fresh leaves on the nose. Palate was showing a medium body, tart blackberries, green bell peppers and more tobacco. On Friday, the characteristic cassis showed up, which made me happy while finishing the wine. Not sure it helped with my writer’s block, but I will gladly drink it again. Will try the Grenache next time. Drinkability: 7+

Let’s get back to that Friday. In the morning, the shipment of Horsepower Syrah arrived. I’m not sure how I managed to get on the list for this first release of super-highly allocated wine – but somehow I did, back in May. The wines comes from the legendary Christophe Baron (Cayuse, No Girls), from the tiny vineyards in Walla Walla Valley, all farmed sustainably and biodynamically (here you can read more about Horsepower Vineyards).

Okay, so it is all great, but not my main point here. I got a shipping notice from UPS at the beginning of the week, and then I got shipping delay notice from UPS, saying that the wine would be delivered only on Monday, which would be a problem as I’m traveling again next week, and there would be good chance that nobody would be able to sign for the wine during the day. This is why the delivery on Friday was so exciting that I even decided to share it in this post. This was also the first wine I received wine in the nice wooden box – so here are some pictures for you.

The next event on Friday was a really a double pleasure. At the beginning of the week, I connected to the @TheVineWineClub on Twitter, and then I got a note about possibly joining a radio talk show about the wine. Really? Yes, I can talk wine, I actually love to talk wine, so I said that I will be glad to do it – and it instantly happened, right on that Friday. At 3 PM, I was a guest at the regular radio talk show called “Off the Vine Radio Show with Benita and Terricinia“, hosted as you can tell from the name, by Benita and Terricinia. The theme was about the sparkling wines, so to support the conversation I decided to open a sample which I recently got – Ferrari Perlé from Trento in Italy. I almost feel guilty talking about Ferrari wine just matter-of-factly – the winery was founded by the Guido Ferrari in 1902; he was responsible for bringing Chardonnay grape into Italy, and he can be pretty much considered a father of Italian Méthode Champenoise wine industry. Full range of Ferrari sparkling wines is nothing short of spectacular and again, it really deserves it own coverage in a separate blog post.

This 2007 Ferrari Perlé Trento DOC, Italy (12.5% ABV, $35, 100% Chardonnay) was absolutely delicious – fine mousse, delicate aromas of apple and hint of toasted bread, perfect balance on the palate – apples, yeast, toasted bread, acidity – just very classic wine, making you say “ahh” after every sip. Drinkability: 8+

And the radio show – it was fun all the way! Benita and Terricinia were great hosts, very knowledgeable about the wine, so we definitely had a fun conversation (I really hope I didn’t overstepped my boundaries by talking to much)! I’m not going to recite our conversation here, but if you got a bit of time, here is the link for you for the broadcast. And if you will actually listen to the program – let me know (honestly!) what you think.

And the last highlight of the day – Port and Madeira tasting!

The tasting was focused on the Graham Port wines, one of the oldest Port houses in Portugal. There were 4 different ports presented in the tasting. The first one was really special, produced in the total quantity of 500 cases (less than 300 cases imported to US). This port was produced as part of the “Six Grapes” line, but for the first time in more than 100 years, it was done using the best grapes from 2011 and 2012 vintages, which were both simply outstanding vintages (some are saying that 2011 was one of the two or three very best over the last 100 years), and this is something never done before. You can read the full story here. Well, for what it worth, here are my notes:

Graham’s Six Grapes Old Vines Port ($34.99) – young and aggressive. Needs some time to mellow down – it has a sharpness of young fruit which still needs some polishing when it comes to the Port wine. After a bit of the breathing time, will perfectly finish a meal.

2011 Graham’s Vintage Port ($75.99) – again, this is the port from the amazing vintage, so it needs a lot of time to develop. Young bright fruit, blueberries and blackberries, firm and powerful body, excellent balance. Give it a 20 years, it will show what it is capable of.

Graham’s 10 Years Old Tawny ($27.99) – delicious. Dried fruit all over – figs, apricots, touch of hazelnut. And I love the bottle’s look and feel – this is a new packaging for this port which I think makes the wine shine even more.

Graham’s 20 Years Old Tawny ($45.99 – great price!) – make it double delicious. More dried fruit, nuttiness all the way, extremely complex. Thought provoking and might make you forget all the world troubles if you will be left alone with the bottle. My favorite from the tasting.

Last but not least – Blandy’s Malmsey 10 Years old Madeira ($23.99 – an amazing QPR) – a bit of sweet fruit on the palate, lots of complexity between nutty and salty profiles – delicious all the way.

Here we are, my friends – one eventful Friday. Writer’s blog, be bone – I can’t deal with you. Cheers and have a great week ahead!

Before The Time Runs Out – To Replace The Google Reader, It Is. Or – How Do You Follow?

June 2, 2013 14 comments

Path to followIf there ever be a contest for the longest blog post title, I would have a good shot at winning, don’t you think? It also shows that I can’t make decisions – as to what title is better, as the least. But then I know from the business world that huge number (majority?) of e-mails are not read past the first line, so one really needs to put out all at once…

Anyway, let’s move closer to the subject. As you probably know, Google announced the End of Life for their Reader as of July 1st – and I don’t know about you, but Google Reader was one of my tools of choice to follow the blogs en masse. With Google reader, it was easy to see what is new with the blogs I follow, and easy to focus on reading posts from one blog at a time. Yes, you can subscribe to follow most of the blogs via e-mail – possible, but considering how we all are inundated with the e-mails, it is easy to expect that many posts will just slip through the cracks – lots of e-mails will accumulate for “I will read it later” section, until one gets overwhelmed with amount of unread e-mails and then hits “delete all” button.

Just to give you an idea of how my Google Reader screen looked like, here is a snapshot:

My Google reader Screen - see how everything is grouped by the blogs?

My Google reader Screen – see how everything is grouped by the blogs?

So I started to ask around. I heard from my friend Patty of P’s 2013 Photo Project that she started to use Feedly, but has limited success. Then I asked my friend Kfir, who is The Guru of Social Media, and his advice was – well yes, try Feedly. So at last, I also decided to consult another friend who is close with billions of people (yep, Google search engine), and I found a web site called Replace Reader. This is what I saw there:

Replace Reader screen

Replace Reader screen

As you can see, Feedly has #1 spot. But before going to Feedly (I have to make my own mistakes, part of my DNA, I guess), I decided to try Bloglovin – easy installation, quick sync with Google Reader, and voila. But I didn’t like what I saw too much:

Bloglovin reader screen

Bloglovin reader screen

The reason I was not too happy with it? It resembles WordPress Reader, which only presents all the blog posts sequentially, sorted by day and time, and if you didn’t read the blogs for a few days (I know, you don’t believe this can happen to anyone – not to read blogs for a few days – OMG, the world is ending…) – but if you actually didn’t read blogs for a few days, good luck following up on what you read and what you didn’t read… This is my WordPress Reader screen, just to give you an idea:

wordpress reader

So it seemed that trying the Feedly is inevitable. Download, install (it actually installs a browser plug-in, so you have to restart the browser). Sync up with Google Reader. The first view is a mess – it is called “Title only view”, and it is just a collection of blog posts sorted by date – nowhere near to blog-sorted Google Reader:

Feedly Title Only View

Feedly Title Only View

 

But – Feedly actually offers a number of different views – Magazine view is better, as it allows me to see the blogs I follow in more structured way:

feedly magazine view

feedly magazine view

See that list of the blogs on the top right side? Now I can see with single glance what do I have to read where. But the best view in my opinion is the one which is provided as “Index”

feedly index view

feedly index view

So I think Feedly with the Index view is what I’m looking for – hopefully it will help me to stay on top of my “follow” game.

Now, the big question is – how do you follow? I’m really curious to know what do you do to follow the blogs you want to read?

Also hope you had a good glass of wine before the new week starts. Cheers!

 

 

 

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