Monday, June 28, 2021

Dan Berger: Winefluencers

 On the old Jack Benny radio show in the 1940s, a continuing character played by the actor Sheldon Leonard was a racetrack "shill," who always spoke in a hushed tone.

    The shady character would suggest to Benny that he bet on a horse "in the third (race)," usually starting his pitch with, "hey, bud," and ending his "sure thing" tip with the last line: "Trust me." The racetrack tout's tip often ended badly for Benny.

    This came to mind the other day when I read a social media post with comments from a young, attractive woman who had attended a winery event. In a photo of herself holding a glass of the winery's chardonnay, she suggested that it was one of the best she had ever tasted.

    This woman was like the racetrack tipster, offering a suggestion on a "great" wine. What wasn't said was that she was paid by the winery to post that "opinion." Nor did the social media post give any indication of her wine qualifications, if any.     (Other than being attractive and vivacious.)

    I got the impression that this woman's job was equivalent to a vegetarian reviewing a steak house.

    This young woman calls herself a wine influencer (winefluencer?), and from what I gather, these people are compensated by wineries or marketers for doing advertorials for wines on social media sites. The aim is to get people to buy the wines. 

    Does it work? I dunno, but some wineries think it does. They are hiring these people.    It's sort of like a chardonnay winemaker telling you that "the best chardonnay you'll ever taste is mine." There's as much veracity here as there is with a South Florida land salesman.

    But then, think about other wine advice you may be exposed to. I once knew a man who ran a successful wine shop in San Diego. One day, I heard him recommend a particularly mediocre chardonnay to a woman who asked for advice. After she left, I said: "Hey, that was an odd choice."

    He said: "I got a ton of that stuff, and I need to move it."

    The mere existence of winefluencers seems to validate that, in this information age we live in, some widely disseminated "facts" are little more than lies dressed up to sound valid. Think politics. Or TV-hawked "miracle" drugs.

    But at least with the drugs, they usually come with warnings about side effects. Some even suggest that that one side effect is death. Influencers are guided by no ethics principles, which you would think might backfire on wineries who hire these shills.

    Clearly, I'm a skeptic when it comes to the benefits of hiring such folks, but I understand how a handsome visage and an enthusiastic voice saying nice things about your latest pinot gris might be better on a social media page than nothing.

    So, is there a better way for influencers to have a real-world impact than simple enthusiasm for a sweet rose or a flavored cider? Perhaps.

    To me, it might sound a little less artificial if the winefluencer were to state factual material, not just animated gushing.

    Instead of saying, "You'll love this," wouldn't it work more effectively if the comment was: "This terrific Xyz Zinfandel just got a gold medal at the county fair wine competition, and I love it!"

    Yes, it still sounds a little like Sheldon Leonard offering Jack Benny his racetrack tout's "can't miss" tip, but at least it's based on something factual.

    Wine of the Week: 2020 Barnard Griffin Rose of Sangiovese, Columbia Valley ($11): One of the most reliable slightly sweet pink wines you can find, this tasty patio sipper has raspberry and strawberry aromas and good mid-palate flavors. Often seen under $10. 

    To find out more about Dan Berger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at



Anonymous said...

Sex sells. Even in this day of so many touting the existence of more than two genders, I'd bet 80% don't actually believe that. They're just repeating what they believe the people important to them what to hear.........

SO........back to Sex Sells. Always has, always will.

Krusatyr said...

I've sat around a Denver park (Capitol Hill) listening to professional winos and pimps and hoes while they drank Mad Dog and recounted wild stories. In those days I had an hour to kill between Metro college courses a couple blocks away.

I often considered putting fresh fruit pieces in their bottles so they could live longer as Sangria imbibers, but didn't want to pollute their raucous raw tales of crude adventure with vitamins.

Had they been herb smokers, they would have just laid in the grass, half brain dead and sounding repulsive like the idiot at the top of the page.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS