Recently, Alice Feiring, announced a re-design of her blog. She posted a mock-up of the new look and, lo and behold, there they were: UCWSs – the Ubiquitous Circular Wine Stains which adorn too many wine blogs to count.
Second in popularity only to the OTWGs (Omnipresent Tilted Wine Glasses – a sin of which I am guilty), the UCWSs are the staple design element of many wine blogs and sites. I don’t know if this is because it’s an easy image to get on iStockPhoto or if is bundled with a narrow set of master templates sourced by web and blog designers.
I don’t have anything against the UCWSs, per se, but with wine blogs sprouting up like mushrooms after a rainstorm, I guess it’s hard to come up with an original logo that can be iconified.
It may be the lack of originality in the use of UCWSs that irks me on a subconscious level here. It’s not originality of design and presentation that is the main issue here. At some level, the wide use of the UCWSs is emblematic of some uniformity of thought among a portion of wine blogers.
Alice, of all people, cannot be accused of being unoriginal, and there are plenty of bloggers who do have an original concept and a unique voice. Still, there is something about the presence of the UCWSs that reminds me of a uniformity of thinking about some ideas fundamental to wine writing and wine blogging.
Foremost among these is the notion of wine assessment as something that can never be objective and that wine is only subjective. That spins off different ways to review and rate wines. Those, in turn, spawn great disparity in opinions form people who are expected to KNOW wine and not just “know about wine” as pointed out by Thomas Pellechia on a recent discussion on Tom Wark’s Fermentation.
Perhaps there is a secondary symbolism of the shape of the UCWSs. Those circles make me think that until we agree that there is some commonality to the grape varieties, the sites and regions where they are grown – which transcend personal impressions, enjoyment and preferences – we will be going in circles when talking about wine quality and communicating about wine and only those profiting from wine will be better off for it.
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