We interrupt these Zinfandel musings for an important message from the Federal Trade Commission. As you may know, the FTC recently announced new rules requiring bloggers to disclose any free goodies they receive, if and when they choose to write about said goodies or the companies that make them.
When I read about these rules in the paper, my first thought — probably a common one among those of us who’ve had longish careers in print media — was “it’s about time those pesky bloggers got held to a higher standard!” Then I realized “oh yeah, I’m now a blogger who receives free stuff.” So these rules actually apply to me.
And while I still think the aim of this mandate, which I assume is to call out biased and misleading coverage of everything from Malbec to mascara, is an admirable one, I do see the inconsistency that its critics have been grousing about. Print media, you see, is held to no such standard. It’s up to individual publications to form their own policies on freebies, and the most respected ones have earned that respect by ensuring the impartiality of their writers.
The down side of taking the high road is, of course, financial. When I first began writing about wine for a newspaper, a perfectly adequate “wine allowance” was built into my fee. In accordance with my editor’s wishes, I made my no-freebies policy known and was able to keep my nose clean. Then the recession hit, ad sales went down, and my fee was cut — twice. Had I not changed my policy (with my editor’s blessing), I would have basically been paying to write my column. Instead, I continued to taste wines blind and never felt obligated to praise a wine I didn’t like. And because no regulatory agency had ever opined on the matter, my readers were none the wiser.
Today, I still accept free wine, but I always try to make it clear to the purveyor that accepting is not the same as promoting. In my column, which appears in another publication, I still speak freely about wines I don’t like. In this blog, I probably won’t mention the dud wines I’ve just tried — but that’s only because it seems like a waste of space. You surely care more about what’s good than what’s bad.
In that spirit, here are three recommendations I can stand behind. The reds were sent to me for free; the Riesling was purchased by my husband. (Cheers to the FTC.)
2006 Red Right Hand Shiraz-Grenache-Tempranillo blend ($12) and 2007 Zeepard Shiraz ($16). These hearty Australian reds are just the thing for weathering a storm, and their price tags make them a guilt-free school-night purchase. Both would be a great accompaniment to meat dishes, but the Zeepard’s more nuanced flavors make it a delightful wine to enjoy without food as well.
2007 Targovishte Riesling ($6.99). My winemaker husband Peter, who is incredibly skeptical about most wines under $10, can’t stop gushing about this off-dry, crisp, and subtly effervescent Riesling. He praises its light fruit, floral, and vegetal notes and its great acid and balance. A fine choice to go with your Thanksgiving turkey — especially if you’ll be cooking for a crowd.