Friday, February 18, 2011

Rachel Ray Can Make You a Wine Expert!!! No, Seriously!

I've been blogging since November 2009, a short period of time compared to other bloggers in the wine world. Within about six months of starting my blog, I was receiving some wine samples and emails from PR firms started trickling in. Those of you who are veteran public relations or marketing types are undoubtedly familiar with pitches and press releases. While the vast majority have zero bearing on my little wine blog, some do come along that capture my attention. Of those, there are press releases that capture my attention for good things, like Joel Peterson being elected to the Vintners Hall of Fame. Still others capture my attention for all the wrong reasons.

Yesterday I received a press release from The Door, a firm that handles such clients as Rachel Ray, Audra Rox, Spike Mendelsohn and the rock group Train. The Door promotes itself as an "idea house", all well and good I suppose, but sending out the following press release was a terrible idea and has no place in a house. Or anywhere for that matter.


Every Day with Rachael Ray Magazine Tells Us How
Always wanted to be an expert in wine tasting or picking out the best bottle but feel intimidated?  The March issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine shows how to in five simple steps. They break down what to look for, ignore, what the shape of the bottle means and more.  Enter the next dinner party or prepare a wine paired meal with confidence!
What To Look For To Become An Overnight Wine Expert
Alcohol level
·       The percentage will tip you off to how heavy the wine will feel in your mouth--12% or 13% is ideal for a full bodied feel.
·       Spotting this on the label or “old vines” means that the grapevines are decades old with fewer grapes produced resulting in a stronger flavored wine. 
Flavor Clues
·       The back of the label is full of hints to the wine’s taste and a peek into the type of wine. Descriptors like vanilla, smoke and nutmeg indicate a woodier taste. Words like zesty, racy, tangy suggest a fresher, brighter style
·       Fancy Artwork. Beautiful pictures of vineyards or estates come across as a serious bottle of wine-but the wines might not live up to the imagery. 
Phantom Grapes
·       If you don’t see recognizable terms such as “merlot” or “chardonnay” that doesn’t mean the wine isn’t one.  Wines from Europe are often labeled by origin rather than type.
·       Shape Matters! Bottle shapes hold specific wine styles.  Tall and narrow bottles contain mostly crisp wines such as a sparkling white. Slope shouldered bottles are typical to subtler wines such as pinot noir, chardonnay, or syrah and high shouldered bottles hold heavier reds and lighter whites such as a sauvignon blanc

That is the unedited press release that I got from The Door. I feel like it should be a lesson in "Know Your Target Audience 101".

1. Why would you send this to WINE bloggers? Every blogger whom I discussed this press release with was either snorting with derision or howling with laughter. Wine bloggers are passionate about wine, or else they would not invest time and energy into blogging, basically for free, about something as complex as wine. Some bloggers I spoke to felt that being sent this was tantamount to a slap in the face, because by creating "overnight wine experts", Every Day With Rachel Ray (and by extension, The Door) is eliminating a large part of what wine bloggers love to do.

2. This "article" is going to appear in the March issue of Every Day With Rachel Ray. That was confirmed when a fellow blogger emailed the girl who sent all of us this press release. Therefore, this article was most likely written between three and six months ago, leaving ample time to make edits and solicit feedback from the very bloggers whom The Door was sending this press release to.

3. Beyond being so utterly full of worthless, idiotic information (the article itself), I am shocked to see the word "expert" tossed around so casually these days. If this article was written by a wine expert, that is even worse. The casual wine drinking 30-40 year old woman will read this article and since it comes from lifestyle mogul Rachel Ray, think that it's gospel. As a result, that 30-40 year old woman will make poor wine buying choices. As if subscribing to that magazine wasn't enough of a bad choice.

There are more things I could rail on about regarding this press release, hopefully you will take the time to comment on whether you agree or disagree with my statements. If you're a PR or marketing person, please take note, this is not how you approach bloggers with a pitch. I have no idea how respected The Door is within the industry, but this is a big swing-and-miss for them. Still, perhaps the redeeming benefit is the amount of Twitter chatter this press release generated. Again, for all the wrong reasons.

Beau Carufel


  1. A wine expert in 5 easy steps...really? I agree with you Beau. It takes a lifetime to become an expert...



  2. You are sooo right & I'm not even an expert or a blogger !

  3. Maybe RR Magazine should put together 5 simple steps to become a pro cook.

    1.) Use EVOO in everything.
    2.) Use made up words like "sjushj" or "yum-o" when you can't think of anything intelligent to say.
    3.) Use orange, oblong cookware that doesnt fit on your stovetop or heat evenly and lots of "spoonulas".
    4.) Use pre-cut, pre-made, and pre-sorted everything. Why do your own work when you can pay a real pro at the grocery store to do it!
    5.)Run around like a chicken with your head cut off to get every meal on the table within 30 minutes - regardless of how gross or sloppy it may be. (You can just "sjushj" up some parsley and put it on top to dress it up).

  4. I myself find this article to be extremely helpful. It is articles like these that have allowed me to enjoy the rich life that I experience. I have filed it in my library right next to some of the other articles that have been so helpful in my education: 1)Brain surgery in five easy steps. 2)Ride like Lance Armstrong in five easy steps. 3)Dentistry in five easy steps. 4)Lunar missions in five easy steps. and finally 5)String theory physics in five easy steps.

  5. I truly hope Rachel Ray's next "project" involves something like "Peace in the Middle East Overnight!". That is befitting her obviously lofty ambitions.

    As it stands, her magazine is of course the best magazine being produced in this country today. I think it probably took five easy steps to reach that status.