As you can see from the list of links to wine websites in the directory, there are dozens, probably hundreds and possibly thousands of them out there nowadays. They vary from the outrageously entertaining such as www.wine-journal.com through the reliable and workmanlike www.wineanorak.com to the most-visited British forum (and much else besides) www.wine-pages.com. But there are one or two sites that make us all look like babes-in-arms in terms of our development. Robin Garr, creator of www.wineloverspage.com, is our most obvious granddaddy. Not that he looks particularly senior in this photo taken from his online biography but it does seem as though he has spent every waking adult minute putting wine on the web. A career journalist who got the wine bug, he ran CompuServe's Wine Forum way back in the pre Web era before setting up his own web site.
The menu on www.wineloverspage.com runs to a daunting number of items: five different ways to Learn About Wine; several different sorts of forum; tasting notes (of relatively inexpensive wines, without a specific database as far as I can see, although there are tasting reports on more than 100,000 wines submitted by visitors to the site accessible via the search engine); and then no fewer than 13 different 'departments', including a list of links to recent wine news stories elsewhere.
This is neither a British-focussed site, like the ones specified above, nor an American-focussed site as www.winespectator.com and www.erobertparker.com tend to be, but a genuinely international meeting place for wine lovers, as I try to make this one, pace a few specialist stories about events in London and UK wine trade gossip.
What I like particularly about Garr's approach is that he is so keen to address those who are just starting out in wine and if anything concentrates on the bargains at the expense of the rarest and most sought-after bottles (a lesson to us all). His Wine Lovers' Discussion Group was the first online wine forum and still operates on thoroughly admirable lines: no insults, no pseudonyms with a genuine sharing of information rather than exhibitionism or vitriol.
We have agreed that we share several core values as far as wine is concerned and so are both writing to alert our visitors of the other site's existence. Go and visit www.wineloverspage.com if you have not already done so. There is an almost incredible amount to enjoy.
You might also like to sign up for his free 30 Second Wine Advisor E-letter which goes out three times a week, and its biweekly Wine Advisor Premium Edition which covers smarter wines (in the $30-60 a bottle bracket) and costs just $24 for a mailing every other Tuesday. All good ideas from the master which I must slavishly copy as soon as I can find the time.