A new phenomenon in the last few years has been the plethora of wine fora (yes I studied Latin a long time ago!). These fora are opportunities to share wine information, to learn more, to make new friends and generally to open your mind and your palate to new flavors. Many of these fora have 'Off Lines' where you can share wines and be convivial. Most of the meetings/tastings are in good restaurants and the wine is matched to the food. I have only explored the web side of fora so far, but some of the 'Off Liners' look fantastic.
The internet is certainly a great window for this kind of information sharing. I must admit that some of these groups are more interesting than others. Sometimes there are more things in common with certain groups than others. And sometimes there are idiots, bigots, looneys and subversives lurking.....but I suppose that is a break of society in 2011.
The forum platform is often a side part of a main website. The journalist, winery or blogger wants to promote traffic to the main site and feels that conversations and discussions are helpful. However sometimes the forum can be more popular than the main site!
Here are a few websites that I occasionally contribute to:
Wine Pages is the website of the Scottish journalist Tom Cannavan. Tom was one of the original wine web journalists having started wine-pages.com in 1995. Tom is regularly on Scottish television and writes mainly for UK based wine magazines. The UK Forum is part of Tom's website.
Cellar Tracker is the website of the American wine geek, Eric Levine. Eric is an ex Microsoft programmer who turned his passion of wine in to a phenomenal wine sharing, wine tracking, portfolio management website. There are over 2 million tasting notes on the site and there are over 160, ooo users of the site. The site has strong links with Jancis Robinson, Allen Meadows, James Halliday, John Gillman and Stephen Tanzer for professional tasting notes and reviews.
The forum aspect of the website is mainly American, but has characters who contribute globally.
WineBerserkers started up in 2009 after Robert Parker started charging people to access his website. This is an American based forum, with a lot of American content. It is rapidly growing and worth looking at.
Wine Lovers Page is Robin Garr's website and forum. Robin has been writing about wine for many many years. He is also an early adopter for having a wine website (since the early 1980's). His views and contributions are 'snob free'.
I know that Jancis Robinson has a forum for Purple Page subscribers (which I am not), but if there are any other forum, fora or wine discussion groups that you think are relevant and fun please write them in the comment section below.
I have even started a forum on Bella Wine Tours but as yet nobody has seen it!! And nobody has contributed........so feel free to contribute in the conversation...
My only advice on these kind of sites is to be polite and be truthful. There will always be bigger, better, richer etc etc. There is no point deceiving or being rude.