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Am I professional enough for CellarTracker?

I spent many hours this weekend geeking my ass off on CellarTracker. If you are not yet familiar with this means of exhaustive wine cataloging, CellarTracker is a website that allows a user to log all the bottles in her cellar, including such details as when a bottle was purchased, how much it cost, when it should be drunk, where it’s being stored, et cetera ad infinitum.

Age-ableThis was necessary because I have finally been allowing myself to purchase wine. Not that I haven’t been buying the wine I’ve been tasting for you lo these last months — but a lot of my tasting has been in events and at wine bars. I have not until recently been able to afford to keep more than about 6 bottles around the house.

And look at me go! I learned, after pulling all my bottles out of the pantry and reorganizing them via the interwebs, that after relaxing the old purse strings for a mere 2 months, I have over 40 bottles in storage, to the tune of over $500. I have clearly been carried away, especially considering that almost half of my “cellar” is comprised of inexpensive, everyday bottles. Considering how much wine I drink on a weekly basis (not that much), the only word that comes to mind is ridonkulous, gentle reader.

Mostly everyday drinkingNow I need more room. As you’ll see in the photos (finally, I get to show you my rack!), I’m keeping wines organized through a combined system of 12-bottle cases and shippers. Classy, eh? Nothing but the best at Wine Scamp World Headquarters. No, seriously — Mr. Scamp is an accomplished welder and is planning out a dilly of a rack for me, which will allow my collection, such as it is, to top out at 60 bottles. Cross your fingers for me.

But that’s not why I gathered you all here this evening — the subject at hand relates to another aspect of the coolness of CellarTracker. The site allows users to share their own tasting notes in the Personal and Community Tasting section, as well as the tasting notes they’ve found from wine critics in the Professional Tasting section.

Ah ha! I can see I’ve got you now. Where do I put my tasting notes? Do I include the notes I’ve written for Wine Scamp in the Professional Tasting section, all up in the face of Robert Parker and Stephen Tanzer? Or do I write separate tasting notes in the Personal and Community Section, a la Dr. Debs?

There are long, fascinating discussions on the blogosphere on this subject. Check out this post on Lenndevours, this one on Catavino and yet another at Fermentation. (There’s an interesting Catavino post regarding Cellartracker and tasting notes in general, if you’ve got the time.) Just so you have a full grasp of the details, I publish this blog via a small business, DBA Wine Scamp, and accept paid advertising on the site. This blog does represent, quixotically or no, an attempt to make money from my writing. It has not yet even begun to turn a profit, but money exists in the equation. I have a day job, of course, which involves some writing, but not in the wine business. I have a Creative Commons license.

So here is where I solicit your opinion — do the wine tasting notes I pen here at Wine Scamp International belong in the Professional Tasting section of CellarTracker? Am I enough of a pro?

0 replies on “Am I professional enough for CellarTracker?”

Personally, I think you’re professional enough. The one thing I find a little curious about Cellartracker (which I’ve always loved, btw, and think is the best tool out there for databasing personal wine collections) is their new “Professional Reviews” that automatically pop up whenever you search for a wine that sources they’ve selected happen to have reviewed. These “Professional reviews” are from bloggers/vloggers, and I think it’s great that bloggers are getting their due.

However, how they select which bloggers to deem “professional” (only a few) and which to exclude (99.9% of the rest of the wine blogosphere) is mysterious. Personally, I would prefer to be able to input the usernames of Cellartracker-ers whose reviews I always want to see, sort of an RSS feed of sorts, so that I can check out the Scamp’s, Dr. Debs’, Jeff Lefevere’s opinion when I’m looking into a particular wine, without having to input the usernames and handles to see if they happen to have tried the wine in question.

Do you know if something like this is possible? I haven’t been able to figure it out if so, but I’m a technological dummy so that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

I guess all of this is to say that I like the democratic aspects of Cellartracker, and there’s something a little strange about designating from the top down who is a professional and who isn’t (short of Parker, Spectator, Allen Meadows).

It’s pretty simple…”professional” means that you write about or review wine for a living full-time. Only you know if that describes you or not!!!

I think Cellartracker just needs a “private notes” feature. Professional as people pointed out on Catavino are people who get paid to do what they do. We are professional by this definition, though we still give away our notes. If anything my large cache of notes help to draw attention to what we are doing and therefore qualify as advertising of a sort.

As to cellartracker, it is such a great database and crappy website. There is so much they could offer to make this site more dynamic and better organized. Jill, you can build an RSS feed from a users notes, but it is not easy. It on the other hand would be an easy thing for Eric to implement. Infact the one thing I want most on CT is a profile page, where I can really take ownership of what I put there.

Currently though it’s just a ugly database, that works better than any other wine tasting note site.

Andrea, they choose the “professionals,” so even though I think you would qualify, it’s not clear how Eric selects them. But it’s his database, so he gets to decide. However, it is possible to search for reviews by using the searchbox and typing in a user name, then using the pulldown to search under “users.” Most people have easily figured out usernames. Mine is “drdebs.” Brooklynguy’s is “brooklynguy.” Monkuwino is “monkuboy,” and eljefetwisted is, well, you guessed it.

I would agree that the database’s look is simple, but I would argue with Ryan that the reason this site “works better than any other wine tasting note site” is precisely because Eric works on functionality rather than bells, whistles, friend groups, buddies, and all the other stuff that so many of his competitors front-loaded into sites that simply don’t have the traffic to be truly useful.

So I’m glad you made is on there–I’m guessing your user name is “winescamp”?

Thanks for all the comments, everyone. Seems like the quandary’s resolution is out of my hand, regardless of my professional status. 😉

I’m definitely in good company, though, on CT! I agree that it’s not pretty to look at, but I must say it’s one of the most useful pieces of free software I’ve encountered since Gmail. I look forward to sifting through my wineblogger colleagues’ TNs…

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