A Confederacy of Redundancies

(Originally published June 2011)

People say, “Hanes, why don’t you write any more articles in your reviews?” Usually, that’s the last thing they say for awhile as they end up in a full body cast and eating through a straw for the next few months. The temerity. But it is a question with a modicum of validity.

The first edition of The Hanes Wine Review came out in September 1999. That may not seem like that long ago but it really is. It’s a damn long time and along the way has sucked up a lot of time. All for the greater good, of course, all for the greater good. But now that Hanes is 44 years old and not 32 years old, there’s a lot less free time to go around. Thankfully, Hanes has avoided having sniveling little brats who suck up all of one’s precious bodily fluids and prematurely age the skin. But three cats do demand a fair amount of attention. And there’s “work work” plus familial responsibilities, endless updates with the parole officer… Well, you see the picture.

But the real truth is this. There’s really nothing new to say about wine that hasn’t been said before. But, but, Hanes. Every month magazines come out like Wine Spectator with plenty of new articles! Hogwash, says Hanes. The vast majority of it is simple regurgitation or fluff pieces on individuals that no one should care about. In reality, new and noteworthy facts about wine come very rarely. Sure, there’s the chance to gloss over the newly released vintage or the newest winemaker on the block. But that shit gets redundant over the years too. And what the hell is the sense in Hanes being redundant in his wine writing when he is already such a creature of habit in real life? C’mon, is there really anything new to say about Carneros Chardonnay, Chianti or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wines? Naw. Hanes still makes mucho reading effort to keep up with the “world of wine” and no topic leaps out at him as worth covering. Just not worth the bandwidth.

Another major factor to consider is the veritable explosion of wine related media and/or general discussion outlets in the world. Back in 1999 the internet was not as painfully over-saturated with content as it is today. The hideous blogger spawn had not yet hatched. There was an arguable minor need for more diverse wine related articles. Today, you could spend 18 hours a day just trying to keep up with the writing output out there. Fuck that noise. It’s not that Hanes does not want to “compete” or begrudges those who blog or tweet. It’s more that it’s useless, no matter how fervent a believer one is in “spreading the gospel” of the vine. It’s great that authority has been decentralized and that anyone can be a self-appointed expert on wine. Let a thousand flowers bloom. Just don’t fucking water them. Hanes has always done his review for fun and not for money (despite many friends over the years browbeating him to commercialize the review). There’s no editors nor deadlines, no criteria to meet nor quotas. Hanes really feels for his friends who do blog, the structural demand there to “produce” is immense – where’s the new content, where’s the new content, this regardless of what is going on in the personal life of said blogger. A swell pal of Hanes has a very well regarded blog but as of this writing he has not posted a new entry in twelve days. That’s decades in blog time. Who needs that pressure for something that is supposed to be fun? For what, a few free tastes at a winery or trade tasting, or maybe a free sample bottle or two of undrinkable swill? As if. But, hey, everyone has a dollar and a dream these days and new bloggers hit the set weekly while new online wine discussion boards pop up like mushrooms after a rainstorm. Good luck synthesizing all that and making sense of it – what’s legit or not, factually correct or just all messed up. Never mind paid for or not.

So! After 12 years or so, The Hanes Wine Review has a distribution list of 398 individuals. That’s fairly puny but not unexpected given that it remains an old school “website” that only gets updated every 1-2 months. Hanes would be a plain old fool to attempt to “gain market share” in a world where, as mentioned, there really ain’t that much to say no more. If all wine writing stopped today, there would be more than enough information available in hard print and on the internets to satisfy even the most hardcore wine geek. Enough, already, geez. Just stop. Some will counter that the “social media” phenomenon is the new revolution to expand the scope of readership and information flow. At the age of 44, Hanes knows a bubble when he sees one, thank you very much. Good luck with all that, sonny.

Nope, from here on out it’s just wine reviews and maybe a wine article if by chance and unholy alliance some worthy topic appears on the scene. Hanes is tempted to get back into general ruminative writing. Not brief bursts such as on blogs, Hanes has always preferred longer, thorough pieces which remain entirely out of vogue. You know, the old cliché of authorial intent and sustained argumentation, not the rat-a-tat-tat of sound bites. So, it may very well be the case that Hanes offers up such tidbits as accompaniments to the review. But these shall likely (a) have nothing to do with wine; (b) cover social or political topics; and/or (c) simply discuss the matter at hand baldly enough to offend most. As such, they will be linked and not part of the main review page. So, if you are one of the 398 here to just see which new wines are worth trying you might want to skip any such missives.