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Wine and Multimedia — not always a winning combination

Posted: April 16th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Multimedia| No Comments »

Browsing through the multimedia section of the Times online today, I stumbled across an audio piece from their Dining and Wine section (I try to pretend I’m a wine buff sometimes) on Pinot Noirs from the Russian River Valley section of California. I thought “Hey! How cool, I wonder what kind of interactive multimedia they’ve put together for a piece on wine!” My preemptive excitement was short-lived.

The thumbnails on the left side played some audio of NYTimes wine guru Eric Asimov and other wine experts describing the tastes and flavors they liked and disliked from six different varieties from the region. What a snooze-fest. “Lovely finish. Strong fruit flavors. Fleshy and fresh. Spicy.” I understand that in the wine world there are a limited selection of terms to choose from when describing the flavors that light up one’s palette.

But then, why even bother to build this piece? Why not just make a spreadsheet with adjectives down one side and names of wines across the top, with some check marks in the corresponding boxes if the word comes to mind while tasting.

NY Times Wine piece

And why tease the readers with a photo box on the right if you are only going to feature one photo for each wine? And poor-quality photos that were taken of half-empty bottles nonetheless. An empty wine bottle is green. Pinot noir is deep red and purple. It’s almost insulting to use photos of empty bottles. How do the non-wine conoisseurs out there know it’s not a white wine for goodness sake? Of course, it could be possible that the Times decided to add the online feature after the journalists had a nice wine buzz going, therefore leaving no choice but to take the photos after-the-fact.

Either way, there has to be a better way for the food and wine journalists to get this right. It may not come until “taste-o-internet” is invented. Ideas? I’ll be pondering a few.