Wine Spectator Opinion Piece Unfair, Local Winemakers Say

A 'Wine Spectator' blog post, according to some East End winemakers, perpetuates a perception that could be holding North Fork wines back.

A recent Wine Spectator blog post, titled "The Big Grapple: Can Long Island Wines Get Some Respect?" has at least a couple winemakers on the North Fork answering the question themselves: apparently not.

While the opinion piece explores the North Fork's place in the wine world,  winemaker Kareem Massoud and Roman Roth, of , and the Grapes of Roth, found themselves stepping up to defend the reputation of the local wine industry after reading what they construed as a biased piece against their home turf.

"If someone wrote something about you and your region in general in a negative way, and you think that's not right, I think you have the obligation to respond to it," Massoud said on Tuesday morning, the day after he and Ben O'Donnell, the author of the piece, got into a lengthy back-and-forth over the tone and wording used to describe the North Fork wine region.

The post starts with the following, which Massoud said sets the tone from the start: "Author and journalist Ron Rosenbaum once called New Jersey 'the second most maligned and unfashionable place to come from in America.' The line appeared in an essay about Long Island."

O'Donnell responded that the question and sentiment he opened with was not his alone, and the piece itself explores that premise — why it exists in the first place, and what can be done to change it.

O'Donnell, the assistant editor of the website, wrote in the comments, replying to Massoud: "There are consumers who remain skeptical about Long Island quality and prices in relation to their perception of that quality. This is the opinion I open with. I think I make it pretty clear early on that my premise is to investigate why this bias exists and what can be done about it."

Massoud, who was interviewed for the blog post, noted from the start that the post was a "negative and pejorative piece of writing," and while it's clearly an opinion piece, said he was hoping at least an opinion would start off in neutral.

Fellow East End winemaker Roth said he too found the tone slanting negative.

Wrote Roth: "Here is your challenge—if you want to keep writing negative statements and articles, call me and I can send you to every wine region in the world where you will find something bad to taste and write about!"

Massoud recognized the positive press Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast have given the region in the past — which have indeed noted several wines on the East End as high-quality — but said the question, "Can Long Island Wines Get Some Respect?," seemed to be answered as soon as it was asked, a notion owner David Page touched on in the piece.

In the end, Massoud said, "I would urge everyone to carefully read it and form their own opinion."

What do you think of Long Island Wines, compared to other regions? Do you think they get the respect they deserve? Is the Wine Spectator piece fair in its description? Click here to read it.

Chiefeo August 28, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Opinions on wine are like a......s, everyone has on and they all stink. Beauty and wine tasting are in the eyes/mouth of the beholder. Drink what you like and enjoy it. Listening to someone else ramble on the different tastes and complexitites only adds to the BS. Like it, drink it, from wherever it comes from. Tastes even better, when someone else pays for it.
Whatchutalkinboutwillis!? August 29, 2012 at 10:19 AM
Do not fret. Every wine drinker shy of a quart of Boon's Farm knows that the Wine Spectator reviews and opinions are wholly and completely dictated by the amount of advertising space one buys in that glossy birdcage liner. Wine experts the world over know this one truth - if you like the wine and you enjoy it with your favorites food pairings - have at it. Let there be no question that the North Fork vineyards are producing wine that rival the great hearty reds of Califorina's central coast.
Gregory Hansell August 29, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Its difficult, if not impossible, to disagree with Massoud’s assessment here. The piece has a clear negative slant, which should be obvious to a careful reader, but worse it is written in a way as to give the semblance of neutrality without having to give up the juicy, blog-worthy trashtalk that would not be possible if the author were actually being fair and honest. The piece could be summarized as follows: “Lots of people dislike and mock North Fork wines. And, you know, they’re not that great. But there are reasons they are not that great – after all, this is not California or Europe. Maybe one day in the distance future they’ll have a chance of actually being half-decent.”
Thomas Matthews August 29, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Thanks for bringing Wine Spectator to your readers' attention; we learn from all opinions, whether praise or criticism. However, I would like to correct an error: all Wine Spectator reviews (Long Island wines included) are based on blind tastings. Advertising has no influence on scores. Thomas Matthews Executive editor Wine Spectator
Rob Rudko August 29, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Invite Ben to the next Long Island Merlot Alliance's "Merlot Focus" (blind tasting)! I would be interested to stand by his side and observe...


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