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The Cat Is Out of The Bag

plume.jpgWell, I wasn't about to go announcing this anytime soon, but as some recent blog posts have spilled the beans, I should probably make it official. I will be serving as a speaker and moderator for the next Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, which will take place at the Meadowood Resort in Napa Valley on February 20th - 23rd, 2007. I will be joining Karen McNeil and Jerry Shriver as moderators for the three day event, and will be joining a group of extremely distinguished speakers the likes of Eric Asimov, Dan Berger, Michael Bauer, Anthony Dias Blue, Elin McCoy, and more.

Needless to say, I was honored to be asked to participate in this event as something more than a participant. I certainly enjoyed myself last year, and learned a lot about many aspects of the wine writing profession that a blogger would never encounter. Tom Wark and several others have made much of my inclusion as a speaker on a list of names made up of some of the top wine writers in the country. I want to avoid all comparison with these folks, who are much more accomplished as writers and much more knowledgeable about wine than I. I do think that Tom and others have latched on to the correct significance of my inclusion. Blogs are now a major force in wine writing no matter how you look at it, and I'm certainly someone who can talk about where they've been and where they are going.

Some of the more interesting conversations at the Symposium last year had to do with the changing nature of the craft and the future of wine writing. My selection as moderator and some initial session planning indicates that these topics will be more front-and-center in this year's Symposium. I look forward to bringing my perspectives and experience as a blogger to bear on the discussion, as well as the more professional understanding of Internet trends that my day job requires.

I'd like to encourage anyone who is serious about wine writing to attend. Attendance is open to "published editorial wine writers, wine/food writers, wine/travel writers, and editors." It's not clear whether just having a blog qualifies you, but having a high quality one might.

I'll be blogging from the Symposium again this year so those who prefer to observe from their armchairs can do so with ease.

Comments (17)

Alder wrote:
10.16.06 at 9:51 PM

I don't want to become the David Foster Wallace of wine bloggers, but I really do want to footnote this whole idea of cats and bags. Where in the heck did this expression come from? Was there a time and place when cats were frequently kept in bags, so that somehow the escape of one could come to be known as a common mistake?

And while we're on the subject of cat expressions, why would there ever be one way to skin a cat, let alone multiple ones? Even if this expression never meant to refer to the domesticated variety, why on Earth would it matter that there were multiple ways of separating a dead tiger from its fur?

It's mysteries like these that keep me awake at night sometimes.

Melanie wrote:
10.17.06 at 5:13 AM

You know, I've always wondered about cats in bags...I'm happy to hear I'm not the only one! The other one that has always befuddled me is "Cat got your tongue?" WHAT, I wonder, was the reasoning behind the first time someone said THAT?

Anyway, congratulations are in order for being asked to speak at the Symposium!

caroline m. wrote:
10.17.06 at 9:20 AM

i love finding out where expressions come from. this is the closest i could find about cats and bags:


another favorite is "since hector was a pup", which i can only assume refers to hector of troy. but who knows.

regardless, congrats to you on the symposium job!

Geoff Smith wrote:
10.17.06 at 12:35 PM

Great news, Alder. I hope you can come by and say hi!


Elizabeth wrote:
10.17.06 at 12:51 PM


"The phrase "letting the cat out of the bag" in the sense of revealing a secret may derive from the cat o' nine tails being kept in a red baize bag and being taken out when punishment is to be inflicted. For a sailor being punished for the first time, the secret of what the 'cat' is was thereby revealed. There are other possible explanations for this particular phrase."

Tyler T wrote:
10.17.06 at 3:44 PM

Alder, congrats. A great representative for sure. Enjoy!

SobreVino wrote:
10.17.06 at 3:52 PM

My sincere congratulations.


jeff wrote:
10.17.06 at 4:52 PM

Heavens to Murgatroyd! Congratulations!

winemonkey wrote:
10.17.06 at 8:57 PM

Super news, Alder. Congrats and keep up the great work!

10.19.06 at 6:03 PM


Nice work, congrats-- I thought I'd laud you as well, as it seems to be the theme here.

And I agree... this is an especialy distinguished panel. What really strikes me as interesting, though, will be your forays/insights into Internet-centric trends.

Can't wait.

Kenny Kahn wrote:
10.22.06 at 3:08 PM

Way to go Alder and well deserved! I subscribe to several wine publications and find them mostly boring. Not Vinography, however, which I read in its entirety click to click.

10.22.06 at 3:11 PM

Finally the rest of the world knows, Congratulations.

Natester wrote:
10.23.06 at 3:26 PM

Whomever wrote the blurb about what "letting the cat out of the bag" means has obviously never owned a cat. I see it as a natural thing: cat's go into bags and hang out, groom themselves, etc. The bag seems to represent something primal in cats and perhaps metaphorically in us. Therefore letting the cat out is to deny it of its wicked bag inhabiting ways.

Also, congrats Alder, how can I get invited. I'm an unpaid freelance wine writer........

Alder wrote:
10.23.06 at 3:32 PM


I had never considered the metaphysical implications. Thanks for that ;-)

Anyone is welcome to apply to the Symposium, though one of the criteria for being accepted is usually having been published in some form or another. If making decent money were a criteria a lot of people wouldn't be able to go ! If you really want to be there I highly encourage you to apply.

10.24.06 at 1:43 PM

Congrats Alder! What a great honor that is most deserved. Hope you will have time to drop in for a celebratory glass of champagne when you are in Napa. =)

LeeM wrote:
11.24.06 at 5:19 AM

Speaking of 'Cats' out of bags' and the link with Wine - Have you seen 'CHAT EN OEUF' that has been released in the UK and Canada. It is an AOC Cotes du Ventoux with a great label design. Seems to be winning the plaudits as a couple of the key wine critics in the UK (Anthony Rose and Robert Jospeh) have written it up with glowing reports. Try this link. Clever stuff!

07.12.11 at 7:04 AM

I find myself coming to your blog more and more often to the point where my visits are almost daily now!

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