The Wayne’s World of the Wine World?

Gary Vaynerchuk is “the first wine guru of the Web video era,” according to Slate. The 31-year-old co-owner of Wine Library, a wine shop in Springfield, New Jersey, has been posting video reviews and how-tos to Wine Library TV for the past year or so, and, as Slate says, “[t]he show has become must-see underground TV: Five episodes are uploaded each week, and Vaynerchuk claims each one pulls in about 30,000 unique viewers.” Time Magazine toasted the show, and Vaynerchuk made a recent appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, where the two literally got into a dirt-eating contest as Vaynerchuk tried to build Conan’s palate.

Vaynerchuk approaches wine reviewing as if it’s sports commentary (in fact, he’s an unrepentant Jets fan, as evidenced by his spit bucket), practically screaming his greeting as the video starts to roll, his light-bulb-shaped, Caesar-haircut-ed head bobbing as he spouts things like, “I shoulda gone into the perfume business—I coulda DOMINATED!”

Such comedy doesn’t have quite enough gravitas for some, and it can be a little off-putting to hear him bray, “Let’s give this a little bit of a sniffy sniff,” before sticking his schnoz in a glass of $100-a-bottle 2002 Chateau Pavie. But once Vaynerchuck gets to his analysis of the nose and flavors, his descriptions are vivid, witty, and compelling. He treads the line between old-world and new-world tastes—the former being drier and more subtle, the latter jammier and bigger (“fruit bombs”)—and takes on Robert Parker’s ratings fearlessly and knowledgeably.

Wine, Vaynerchuk says, “is this generation’s board game—it brings people together.” This unpretentious embrace of what many still consider a snooty pastime strikes the right note with bloggers like Lonely Man of Cake, who writes:

A similar debate can be (and probably has already been) held regarding some of the shows on the TV Food Network. Emeril Lagasse was also considered unorthodox when he began with his antics, but his shows, and those that followed, allowed people a glimpse of the high-end food industry while being both entertaining and not breaking the bank.

I’d be surprised if the Food Network hadn’t already come knocking on Vaynerchuck’s door.

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