The Best of the Web
* Wine Lovers' Discussion Group
I am proud to have innovated interactive wine-discussion forums on the Web when our * Wine Lovers' Discussion Group forums went online in 1995, and our forums remain the biggest and best interactive venues for the civil, intelligent discussion of wine, food, travel and beers, spirits and other libations. Using our own proprietary forum software that has evolved with the advice and suggestions of our communities over the years, we host open forums (requiring no registration). In the interest of maintaining a civil environment, we ask participants to use real names and avoid "flaming" (abusive personal attacks) and "spam" (unsolicited commercial messages); forums are moderated, and inappropriate messages may be removed.
We also host three interactive live wine chats weekly. For details see WLDG Chat.
Following are my comments, and links, for a number of other online wine forums and wine-discussion communities.
Australian Wine Centre
Longtime cybercommunicator and wine merchant Gavin Trott hosts this old and popular Australian-accented site as part of his Australian Wine Centre, where a loyal community of participants carry on conversations using a mixture of real names and "handles" on wwwboard forum software.
Journalist Victor de la Serna, one of Spain's leading wine writers (and veteran of the Wine Lovers' Discussion Group), hosts the Madrid newspaper El Mundo's wine-appreciation site, which includes this active Spanish-language wine forum.
Mark Squires, a wine-loving lawyer and former moderator of the Prodigy Wine Club, hosts this active community, which gained the regular participation of the critic Robert M. Parker Jr. and his staff when Mr. Squires' formerly independent, Philadelphia-oriented online community was acquired by eRobertParker.com. It uses the non-threaded Ultimate Bulletin Board software, appears to be tightly moderated, requires registration to post messages, and asks that participants sign on with real names.
Another interactive community founded by a WLDG participant replicating the model with a regional focus, Tom Cannavan's UK Wine Forum is part of his excellent Wine-Pages. An active and primarily British group participates in an extremely civil environment with moderate message traffic on standard wwwboard software. Registration is not required to post, but participants use real names.
West Coast Wine Net
One of the first Web forums after Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, West Coast Wine Net's Brad Harrington formed an independent forum to discuss California wines and wineries. Although its large and active community now spans the wine world, high-end California wines remain a significant part of its focus. Real names are encouraged on open forums (no registration required) that appear to use a proprietary evolution of wwwboard.
A veteran of the wine trade and longtime denizen of many online message boards back to the days when he used to joust with Robert M. Parker Jr. on Prodigy, Robert Callahan recently started his own forum, Wine Therapy. It uses Snitz Forums 2000 software, requires registration for posting new messages or replies, but permits users to sign on with "handles" or nicknames. (The host himself goes by "Doghead" in this group).
wine-lines.com is an impressive personal website maintained by Richard Ross in the United Kingdom. The site features tasting notes, wine features, reviews, webcams and quite an active discussion group. Very professionally done. http://www.wine-lines.com
The Rest of the Web
As best we can determine, participation in the wine forum on America Online requires AOL membership and the use of its proprietary software; it does not appear to be open to visitors directly from the Web.
Canadian Wine Home Page
The Canadian Wine Home Page hosts the Canwine Mailing List, started in January 1994 to provide a forum for the discussion of Canadian wines. Information about subscribing is in the CANWINE FAQ on this site. http://www.canwine.com/index.html
CompuServe Wine Forum
The original home of interactive online wine discussion, the CompuServe Wine Forum dates back to 1985, almost a decade before the birth of the Web, and I was proud to be associated with it as a forum manager for many years. With the sale of CompuServe to AOL, however, and the development of the Web as an alternative to online services, this forum - like most of CompuServe's once-strong forum communities - has become a relatively minor presence. Now open to visitors using standard Web browsers, it still houses a loyal group of participants, and remains a place where wine lovers at all levels of expertise will find a warm welcome.
New Zealand Wine
Roger Gibson, who runs the Central Otago Wine Cellar site at www.otagowine.com, moderates the online and E-mail New Zealand Wine discussion group. Traffic is relatively light, averaging about one message per day, but discussion is interesting and civil, and participants generally use real names.
Interactive feature of the Wine About.com wine-information site, this forum sees rather light traffic (fewer than 20 new topics in all of April 2001), but it's a friendly group, with Wine Guide Lisa Shea on duty to ensure that newcomers to wine appreciation can feel comfortable about asking basic questions.
This rather lightly trafficked forum is associated with an audiophile Website that has more active forums on audio and video topics. Wine Asylum uses the old wwwboard software, requires registration to participate actively, and permits "handles."