Dude, Where’s My Wine?
Quick-witted wine blogger Joe Roberts answers OWP questions
Joe Roberts is the founder of 1WineDude.com, one of the most influential and popular wine blogs in the U.S., and the first website specifically targeting intermediate vinophiles.
In 2012, Roberts was named the 14th most authoritative person in the U.S. wine business in IntoWine.com’s list of the “100 Most Influential People in the U.S. Wine Industry.” His blog has received several awards, including “Best Wine Blog” in the 2009 FoodBuzz Blog Awards and the 2010 Wine Blog Awards.
He is currently the wine expert for Answers.com. In 2012 and 2013, Roberts was the wine columnist for Playboy.com. He has also contributed to and/or been quoted in the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, CNBC.com, Washington Post, Mutineer Magazine, Publix Grape Magazine, Palate Press, Mint.com, Wines.com, Table Matters and others.
Roberts holds the Level 2 (Intermediate with Distinction) and Level 3 (Advanced with Merit) certificates in wine and spirits from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) in England. He’s a member of the U.S.-based Society of Wine Educators, with their Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) qualification. He also holds the Wine Location Specialist (WLS) qualification from the Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) and the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (IVDP), and he is a member of The Wine Century Club.
Roberts lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Kerri, daughter, Lorelai Kate, and over-sized dog, Brunello. When not working on his blog, he plays bass guitar and didgeridoo for acclaimed singer/songwriter Steve Liberace.
How did you first become interested in wine?
I wish I could say that there was an enlightened “ah ha” moment in which the heavens parted, but really I just got interested in wine the same way that any other middle-class American with disposable income did, which is to say I had more of a “wow, this is how classy people get wasted!” moment. I had brewed beer and really gotten into the craft beer scene, which in the Philly area is just amazing, and going off of the deep end with wine became sort of a natural extension of that. I also had a modest “ah ha” moment in pairing a wine with a home-cooked dinner by my then-girlfriend-now-wife Kerri, and that really clued me into the magic of matching food and wine, and matching experiences and context with it, too.
What is your general opinion of Oregon wine? What, do you believe, is the general opinion of your fellow Pennsylvanians?
I can’t speak to Pennsylvania’s opinion of Oregon wine, though I suspect it’s stunted due to our ludicrously outdated and poorly executed liquor code as a control state here. Personally, I love the wines, and it hurts to say that Oregon wine is probably behind the curve in terms of promotion of its wares, especially when compared to the juggernaut of California — case in point: Out of 2,000 bottles of samples in my basement, I think about four of them are from Oregon. And now western Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir is all the rage with the younger fine wine crowd, and Oregon Pinot is in danger of being viewed as “Dad’s Pinot.” Which is a shame, because there are some amazing wines and amazing stories in Oregon.
You write to the “intermediate” wine connoisseur. How can someone successfully go from being intermediate to expert without breaking the bank?
The good news is, you never, ever stop that journey of discovery and learning with a topic as broad and deep as wine; the bad news is, you will spend a lot more on wine during that progression than you’d ever dream! There has, quite literally, never in human history been a better time to explore wine than right now, given the quality and diversity available. I think every wine lover ought to splurge once in a while, but to avoid breaking the bank, I’d look for areas that get less media attention (like Sicily, for example) and also look for smaller producers in established regions, checking out wines in the $25 to $35 range, where there are some exceptional bargains.
Knowing your relaxed style on your award-winning blog, can you tell OWP readers some of the most entertaining wine descriptors you have heard or written over the years?
Well, I have had some really off-the-wall ones. I once compared a wine to going out on a date with She-Hulk, which is a character from old Marvel comics, who was basically the female version of The Incredible Hulk. So my winetasting brain works in some pretty strange ways.
Who has been your favorite interview on your blog thus far? Who is the dream interview?
The most important interview was with Robert Parker Jr.; in some ways he “legitimized” 1WineDude.com with that interview, in large part because he just doesn’t give many interviews. But the most entertaining interviews have been with rocker Les Claypool, who also owns Claypool Cellars in Sonoma; the guy is just the master at coming up with irrepressible answers to even the craziest of questions.
If you owned a winery, where would it be? Which varietal(s) would you champion?
Fantastic question, and believe it or not, I’ve never been asked that one before. I think in my mind’s eye, I’m managing a small estate in one of the Beaujolais Cru regions, and trying to make small quantities of authentic, honest wine. That fantasy doesn’t take into account the eight billion miles of red tape involved in the modern wine trade, however!