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CONVERSATION AUTHORITIES AMONG POPULAR WINE BLOGS

Kostas V. Zafiropoulos
University of Macedonia
Thessaloniki, Greece
e-mail: kz@uom.gr

Vasiliki G.Vrana
Technological Education Institute of Serres
Serres, Greece
e-mail: v_vrana@otenet.gr

and

Dimitrios M. Vagianos
University of Macedonia
Thessaloniki, Greece
e-mail: vagianos@uom.gr

ABSTRACT
Blogging in the wine industry is widespread. There are blogs sharing the passion for wine, blogs
providing wine news, blogs about the review and consumption of wine, blogs that rate wine, wineries’,
marketers’ and retailers’ blogs, wine travel blogs and blogs that deal with the business of wine. The objective of
the present paper is to establish the Top 100 Wine Blogs and to locate the central groups of wine-bloggers, using
the Wine Blog Searching Engine. Central groups of blogs serve as focal conversational points where probably
the interesting conversation and information provision is taking place. Next, the paper describes features of
these blogs. It attempts in this way to investigate what are the characteristics that distinguish these blogs and
make them to be appreciated and be considered worth visiting.

Key Words: top wine blogs, incoming links, central blog groups, multidimensional scaling, hierarchical cluster
analysis, blog characteristics

INTRODUCTION
The recent explosion of social networking sites, consumer generated content and web applications that
facilitate content and media syndication have tremendous impact on the profile, expectations and decision
making behaviour of Internet users, on the way consumers use the Internet and on e-business model that
businesses need to develop and/or adapt (Sigala, 2007). Globally, the wine industry attracts much attention
although it is not a growth industry: world wine production and consumption have been declining slightly over
the past two decades. But to millions of investors and hundreds of millions of consumers, wine industry
provides a far more fascinating product than its shares of global expenditure or GDP might suggest (Anderson et
al., 2001).

Blogs are an innovation in personal publishing and in the last few years they are growing in popularity
and have turned into a key part of today’s online culture (Hsu & Lin, 2008; Marlow, 2004). Blogging in the
wine industry is very widespread and several different types of wine blogs with different purposes exist. Yarrow
(2010) in the “complete list of wine blogs” recorded 865 wine blogs. According to Thach (2010) nine major
types of wine blogs exist: “review of wines”, “wine and food”, “wine education”, “Winemaking & Viticulture”,
“Specific Region”, “Wine & Culture”, “Winery Blog” ,“Wine Business” and “Other”. Blogs are not only
employed in personal environments but also in organizations and enterprises (Kolbitsch & Maueur, 2006) and as
they are growing in popularity, businesses and organizations are looking for ways to exploit them. An
organizational or corporate blog is a means of communication between organization/corporate and its public and
enables industry to interact meaningfully with their potential customers (Jüch & Stobbe, 2005; Kosonen et al.,
2007; Lu & Hsiao, 2007). In this vein, some wineries have already established their own blogs. Stormhoek
Vineyards, a small winery in South African tripled its sales in 2 years by using a wiki and blogs to create groups
for wine tasting parties (Lai &Turban, 2008). Blogs have the power of the impartial information and the e-word-
of-mouth that is diffusing online like a virus (Sigala, 2007). This has important implications in the wine
industry, as blog reviews of wine influence the buying patterns and sell the product or not. Thach (2010, p.2)
mentioned “Wine blogs are not monitored and there are no official guidelines or rules regarding what can be
published – therefore, there are many diverse opinions about wines and wine brands. Because of this some
bloggers may write either positive or negative reviews about wine that can help or hinder wine sales’.
Additionally to this there’s a recent tendency of new forms of tourism, as wine tourism, attracted from typical
products and alimentary and culinary traditions (Di Gregorio & Licari, 2006). “This sort of touristic supply
starting from the product involves positive effects not only for the production, but for the grapes production,
distilleries, information agencies, and last but not least, restaurants and food sector in general” (Di Gregorio &
Licari, 2006, p.5). “As information is the lifeblood of tourism, the use and diffusion of Web 2.0 technologies
have a substantial impact on both tourism demand and supply” (Sigala 2009, p.221). The discussions,
information exchange and collaboration taking place in wine blogs provide value for wine tourists’ trip
planning.

By definition, blogs link to other sources of information usually to other blogs. Barger (1997) who first
used the term weblog, defined blog as ‘‘a web page where a blogger ‘logs’ all the other web pages he finds
interesting’’. Drezner & Farrell (2004, p. 5) defined weblogs as “A web page with minimal to no external
editing, providing on-line commentary, periodically updated and presented in reverse chronological order, with
hyperlinks to other online sources”. Blogs depend upon hyperlinks not only to boost attention to their own blog,
but to also ensure that users can be quickly led to relevant information (Kenix, 2009). Blogging tools provide
appropriate features for managing blog interactivity and promoting the creation of social networks among
bloggers (Du & Wagner, 2006). Blogrolls, trackback links and comments can hint at a blogger’s connections
(Su et al., 2005). Sigala (2008) mentioned, “blogs create and maintain strong online communities through their
social ties tools such as blogrolls, permalinks, comments and trackbacks”. Analysing blogrolls is a good way to
map the network as they are used by bloggers to self identify their close connections (Efimova et al., 2005).

In the present paper, “The Wine Blog Search Engine", and records the Top 100 Wine Blogs and
investigates conversational patterns between bloggers are used. Wine blog ratings are standardized composite
scores based on multiple relative link popularity rankings from three top search engines and Technorati, as well
as Google page rank scores. The paper studies incoming links between bloggers through blogrolls. A
“blogroll” is a list of blogs that many bloggers maintain. The blogroll occupies a permanent position on the
blog’s home page and is the list of blogs that the blogger frequently reads or especially admires and thus offers
links to these blogs. Blogrolls evolved early in the development of blogs and serve as a navigation tool for blog
readers to find other blogs with similar interests (Marlow, 2004). Commenting on this Drezner & Farell (2004,
p.7) wrote: “Blogrolls provide an excellent means of situating a blogger’s interests and preferences within the
blogosphere. Bloggers are likely to use their blogrolls to link other blogs that have shared interests”. Blogrolls
are also great traffic driving tools. “With each blogroll that your blog is listed on, comes the possibility that
readers of that blog will click on your link and visit your blog” (http://weblogs.about.com
/od/partsofablog/qt/WhatIsaBlogroll.htm). Albrecht et al. (2007, p. 506) referred to this form of interactivity
between blogs as “connectedness of weblogs”.

POWER AND INFLUENCE OF BLOGS
One of the key characteristics of Web 2.0 is the idea of User Generated Content. Users have the ability
to create their own content, rather than passively consume whatever is created for them by others (Zappen et al.
2008). Blogs are low-threshold tools for Internet users to personalise and actualise content and information
online and to present their views to a broad audience and are also ideal for experts to broadcast their expertise to
a large audience (Wagner & Bolloju, 2005). Pedley (2005, p.95) mentioned “A major attraction of weblogs is
their relative ease of construction/updating and the lack of the need or any special skills in web design or of
HTML coding” and Jackson (2006, p. 294) wrote that with blogs “even technophobes could get online”.
Rosenbloom (2004) claimed “a blogger only needs a computer, internet access and an opinion”. However, it
needs effort to maintain an “active” blog. Activity depends on two parameters: the blogger, who needs to update
the content regularly, and the readers who need to visit and interact often with the blog. It is not uncommon that
blogs are abandoned soon after their creation (Hsu & Lin, 2008).
Blogs help self-expression and self-empowerment, and therefore have become a major source of
information and communication for Internet users and have the power to engage people in collaborative activity,
knowledge sharing, reflection and debate (Blood, 2002; Efimova et al., 2005; Punie & Cabrera, 2005; Williams
& Jacobs, 2004). Moreover, they are often perceived as powerful because they allow millions of people to easily
publish and share their ideas, and millions more to read and respond (www.technorati.com) and as a good way
of circulating new ideas (Baker & Green, 2005).

Bloggers provide more authentic information, gained through personal experience (Sharda & Ponnada,
2007) and trust one another. Kozinets (2002) wrote on this, that people, who interact in spaces like blogs over a
long period of time, trust the opinions of the other users and take them into consideration when making a
purchase decision. There are certain product categories on the web which require more information for people to
make a purchase ( Leskovec , 2007). Tourism products, fit this category as they can hardly be evaluated prior to
their consumption (Rabanser & Ricci, 2005) and depend on accurate and reliable information (Kaldis et al.,
2003) thus elevating the importance of interpersonal influence (Lewis & Chambers 2000). Wine also, fits this
category suggesting wine blogs may be useful for some consumers to make wine selections (Thach, 2010).
“It is human nature to be more interested in what a friend buys than what an anonymous person buys, to be more
likely to trust their opinion, and to be more influenced by their actions. As one would expect our friends are also
acquainted with our needs and tastes, and can make appropriate recommendations” ( Leskovec , 2007 p.3) Thus,
e-word-of-mouth becomes the most important information source (Litvin et al., 2008) and therefore Internet
based recommendations are helpful in wine buying decision (Thach, 2010) and for travel planning (Akehurst,
2009; Litvin et al., 2008). O’Neill et al. (2002) studied wine tourism in Australia, and found that visitors’
recommendations boost wine sales when vacationing opinion leaders told their experiences.

BLOGS AS SOCIAL NETWORKS
Social networks consist of people connected through various social relationships or exchanges (Herring
et al., 2005). Social network analysis (SNA) is “a discipline of social science that seeks to explain social
phenomena through a structural interpretation of human interaction both as a theory and a methodology”
(Marlow, 2004 p.2). The goal of SNA is to identify “who the key actors are and what positions and actions are
likely to take” (Krackhardt, 1996, p.161). According to Balancieri et al. (2007) SNA is rooted in the concepts of
nodes and connections. Nodes, are the social actors and can be persons, groups, organizations, nations,
communities, offices, blogs and so on and “connections” refer to channels of communication, (Balancieri et al.,
2007; Martino & Spoto, 2006). Blogs facilitate members’ social interactions and provide conversation (Nardi
et al., 2004; Herring et al., 2005) and blog communities emerge from interlinking between them (Efimova &
Hendrick, 2005; Efimova et al., 2005). According to Chin & Chignell (2007) “Blogs are a form of social
hypertext, functioning as a one-to-one mapping between a network of web pages and a network of people,
which can be represented as a social network and from which communities can emerge”.

A Social Network can be represented in three ways: the first one is by giving a simple list of all the
elements taken from the set of social actors, and the list of the pairs of elements that are linked by a social
relationship of some kind. The second has a form of matrix. If two social actors I and J have a relation then 1 is
placed at the cell (i,j), otherwise 0 is placed in this cell. Finally, a description of a Social Network may have a
form of a graph where social actors can be represented by nodes, and the connections with each other can be
represented by edges between these node (Marlow, 2004; Martino & Spoto, 2006).

A-LIST BLOGS
There are millions of individual blogs, but within any community, only a few blogs attract a large
readership (Wagner & Bolloju, 2005). “The vast majority of blogs are probably only read by family and friends,
there are only a few elite blogs which are read by comparably large numbers” wrote Jackson (2006, p.295).
Herring et al. (2004) also claimed that the most discussions of the blogosphere focus on an elite minority of
blogs. These blogs are the most known and regularly linked by others. According to Trammell & Keshelashvili
(2005, p. 968) their authors manage to create a persona, making themselves a “celebrity” among the community
of bloggers. These blogs are referred as "A-list". "A-list blogs are most widely read, cited in the mass media,
and receive the most inbound links from other blogs. The small group of A-list bloggers has the largest
influence on the public’s perception of blogging because of their high profile (Trammell & Keshelashvili,
2005). The A-list appears at the core of most characterizations of the blogosphere” wrote Herring et al. (2005).
Many bloggers desire a wide readership; and the most reliable way to gain traffic to their blog is
through a link on another weblog (Blood, 2002). Drezner & Farrell (2004, p.7) mentioned “when one blog links
to another, the readers of the former blog are more likely to read the latter after having clicked on a hyperlink
than they would have been otherwise. If they like what they read, they may even become regular readers of the
second blog”. In that way “blogs with large numbers of incoming links offer both a means of filtering interesting
blog posts from less interesting ones, and a focal point at which bloggers with interesting posts, and potential
readers of these posts can coordinate” (Drezner & Farrell, 2004; p.13). Less prominent bloggers contact one of
the large ‘focal point’ blogs, to publicize their post when they have an interesting piece of information or point
of view. On the one hand this leads the readers to ‘focal point’ blogs, as they know that they will find links to
many interesting stories, and on the other hand bloggers to send posts to focal point blogs as they know that
they are likely to find more readers. Based on this and the lognormal distribution of weblogs, a few “elite”
blogs can operate as both an information aggregator and as a “summary statistic” for the blogoshpere”. The
same was claimed by Jackson (2006, p.296) who wrote “elite bloggers can act as a “focal point” encouraging
influential visitors to congregate around them. These blogs can also be described as being “Authority” blogs in a
Search Engine Optimization sense because they can serve as a meaning of navigation economy. Users who are
looking for relevant information can be directed to these blogs, which are regarded favourable or important by
other blogs, and economize both time and unnecessary information. On the other hand, practitioners and
marketers could locate these authority blog groups and find out about the interests of the users and next
approaching them with information or commercial offerings.

This paper makes use of recent advances on the study of blogs conversational patterns and applies them
to wine blogs. It uses a study framework firstly introduced in political blogging in then successfully applied in
travellers’ blogs. The basic concept is that blogs are organized around central groups of blogs, which serve as
focal conversational points. Both, the Internet users and the bloggers distinguish these central blog groups and
refer directly to them either for economy of navigation or because they are considered authority blogs. The
paper makes use of statistical procedures to locate central blog groups making use of the hyperlinks among
blogs. After locating these blog groups, the paper investigates the characteristics of these particular blogs
attempting in this way to explain why these blogs are appreciated and considered authority blogs.

METHODOLOGY
This research uses the Wine Blog Search Engine", and records the Top 100 Wine Blogs. Links from
the Blogrolls of these top blogs to other blogs of the list were recorded during March 2010. The reasoning for
recording incoming links from blogrolls to other blogs is to observe and record formal interconnections between
blogs. These interconnections take the form of suggestions to potential users. Users may benefit from navigating
through incoming links and visit blogs that are considered familiar, important or relevant by other blogs. Thus
suggested blogs are granted a certain degree of worth and value.

Incoming links are represented by a graph representing the social network of wine blogs. This network
is associated with a 100x100 binary non-symmetric adjacency matrix. In this matrix if blog I links to blog J then
1 is placed at the cell (i,j), otherwise 0 is placed in this cell. The paper adopts a statistical approach for studying
networks, although other graph theoretic approaches also exist such as finding components or cliques. These
graph theoretic notions are used in the study of social networks to locate actors who interact with each other.
The statistical approach followed in this paper, in particular scaling and clustering analysis, is the preferred
method because the interest is to find groups of blogs with these properties: 1) within these groups the blogs
need not be interconnected but rather 2) they need to be linked by nearly a common set of blogs. In this sense,
clustering algorithms applied on the original adjacency matrix are considered suitable for locating these groups.
The paper adopts a method introduced by Vrana & Zafiropoulos (2010) for locating core travelers groups.
Vrana & Zafiropoulos (2010) introduced a combination of social networking theory, multidimensional scaling
and hierarchical cluster analysis to locate central or core blog groups by studying incoming links through
blogrolls. By finding such groups, one can explore how bloggers are organized and easily follow how
conversation proceeds. It is important to locate such groups in order to see how wine blogs are organized, which
blogs are considered important and which are the characteristics that distinguish them from the rest of the blogs.

Multidimensional Scaling (MDS) is used in the analysis as a data reduction technique and also to
quantify the original binary data. The method reproduces the original data and map them on a fewer dimensions
space (namely two in this analysis) while the effort is to keep intact the distances among the original data on the
new reproduced data. “Stress” is a measure of goodness of fit between distances of original data and distances of
the reproduced data. Better fit is assumed when stress is close to zero. Hierarchical Cluster Analysis (HCA) uses
the quantified data from MDS to produce clusters of blogs with similar properties. Since the input is the
incoming links, blogs in the same cluster are linked by nearly the same set of blogs. In this way the blogs in a
formed cluster are regarded to be of the same family or have common characteristics, by blogs who link them.
Some of the clusters that are produced by HCA, gather the largest number of incoming links. If this happens
then they should be considered as conversational focal points.

Figure 1
The network of the top 100 wine blogs.

Table 1
Clusters of top 100 wine list according to their incoming links.

Cluster Number of Mean number Std. Deviation of
blogs in of incoming number of incoming
cluster links links
0 81 4.36 3.44
1 6 16.33 2.73
2 8 16.75 4.06
3 3 33.33 3.06
4 1 40 -
5 1 49 -

FINDINGS
The network of the top 100 wine blogs is presented in Figure 1. Multidimensional Scaling (MS
presents very good fit with Stress=0.03), followed by Hierarchical Cluster Analysis (HCA) result to the
formation of clusters of blogs regarding incoming links. To decide about the suitable number of clusters, the
study uses a scree plot of the number of clusters against Wilk’s Lambdas. A six clusters solution seems to be the
most appropriate. These clusters are described in Table 1.
Cluster 0 contains 81 of the 100 blogs. These 81 blogs have only a small number of incoming links
(mean=4.36), while there are five more clusters with only a few blogs varying from one to eight blogs within
each one. Blogs in these clusters gather large numbers of incoming links. Within the framework introduced in
this paper these five clusters should be considered as central while Cluster 0 should be left out of the analysis.
Clusters 1 and 2 consists of 6 and 8 blogs respectively and have moderate mean values of incoming links, while
cluster 3 consists of only 3 blogs and in average has twice the volume of incoming links compared to clusters 1
or 2 (33.33). Both clusters 4 and cluster 5 consists of only one blog. These are the most popular two blogs in
terms of number of incoming links. Cluster 4 has 40 incoming links and cluster 5 has 49 incoming links.

Table 2 presents the names, the central slogans, year of blogs’ creation and region of origin for the five
significant clusters. One should notice that most bloggers are from USA with only one exception: spittoon.biz
from England and acevola.blogspot.com maintained either from US or Italy. Wine has been a European product
for many centuries. Nowadays, more than three-quarters of the volume of world wine production, consumption
and trade involve Europe, and most of the rest involves just a handful of New World countries settled by
Europeans: California, Australia, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, and Uruguay are beginning to
challenge that European dominance in international markets (Anderson et al., 2001). So it is interesting to notice
this contradiction. The majority of top blogs originate from USA. Also many blogs are established early in the
decade of 2000, which means that they are active since the early stages of blogging.

Table 3 presents the managerial characteristics of the five central clusters. Table 4 presents the
correlation coefficients of these characteristics with cluster membership and number of incoming links for the
blogs of the central clusters.

Mean rank within the top 100 list is high for the five clusters. Clusters 1 and 2 have mean ranks 22.67
and 18.25 respectively; while cluster 3 mean rank is lower than 10. Clusters 1 and 2 coincide with the two top
clusters in the list. From Table 4 it is obvious that rank is highly and significantly correlated with either cluster
membership or number of incoming links. Top 100 listing is reproduced on the way blogs link to each other in
the sense that blogs that are higher in the hierarchy are also the most linked ones.

Only a few central blogs report that they have certificates or are members of associations. Clusters 1, 3
and 4 are the most active ones. Awards are reported only from blogs of clusters 1, 2 and 3 while the two most
popular blogs do not report any. Further, only few blogs of clusters 1 and 3 report some kind of sponsor of their
blog. Nearly all blogs contain advertisements. Clusters 1 and 2 are less active in advertising. Java et al. (2006)
mentioned that according to Forster Research’s survey, 64% of the advertisers are interested in advertising on
blogs. Advertisers have realized the potential of blogs in influencing buying decisions of their target audience.
Often when a buyer is interested in purchasing a product, blogs offer free and frank customer reviews. These top
Wine blogs have taken advantage of this feature.

Blogs in central clusters also offer comments and impressions about wine trips and tourism. Only one
blog (catavino.net ) offer information about organizing a trip like Car Hire, Hotel and apartment bookings,
Coaches Cafes. One also blog (http://www.drvino.com/), offered opportunities to win a trip to Rioja – the land
of a thousand wines. Clusters 5, 3 and 2 are most active while only one third of blogs in cluster 1 offer
comments on trips and the blog in cluster 4 does not. Some blogs in clusters 1, 2 and 3 sell goods related to wine
in general or products regarding the blog itself, such as wine, souvenirs, T-shirts.

Finally, the blogs in clusters 5 and 4 offer recommendations, while for the blogs in cluster 1 the
percentage reaches 50% and for blogs in clusters 2 and 3 the portion of those recommendations is about one
third. The two blogs in clusters 4 and 5 offer education in wine tasting etc. The proportion of blogs offering
education and training for the rest of the clusters is very low, and no blog in cluster 2 offers such a training. In
Table 4 it is shown that correlation of offering education with cluster membership and number of incoming links
is high and statistically significant. Education offering tends to be a characteristic of the most popular wine
blogs.
Table 2
Blogs in the central clusters.

Region of
Cluster Name Slogan origin Date since
Serious wine talk…. for
1 1winedude.com not so serious drinker Philadelphia
The official blog of
californiawinehikes.com
(guided hikes, wine
tasting, fine drinks and
accommodations in the
California wine
1 californiawinehikes.com/winehiker country) Philadelphia 2005
wannabe Wino Wine Northern
1 wannabewino.com blog Virginia. 2006
jamie Goodies' wine
1 wineanorak.com/blog blog. Mainly wine….. 2001
1 winecast.net Wine cast 2004
We spit so you can Oxfordshire,
1 spittoon.biz swallow England
2 acevola.blogspot.com On the wine trail in Italy US/Italy 2005
Bigger than your head.
Eating and drinking: the
good the bad and the
2 biggerthanyourhead.net rest of it Memphis 2006
Brooklynguy's Wine
and Food Blog.
Drinking, eating, Brooklyn,
2 brooklynguyloveswine.blogspot.com enjoying in Brooklyn. NY 2006
2 catavino.net 2005
Dirty south wine. Wine
2 dirtysouthwine.com is meant to be crunk Atlanda 2008
2 goodwineunder20.blogspot.com Good wine under 20$ LA 2006
McDuff's Food & Wine
Trail. Taking a bite....
Three parts wine blog,
one part food blog, plus
a dash of music, cycling
and other cultural
2 mcduffwine.blogspot.com phenomena. Philadelphia 2007
Rockss and Fruit.
Thoughts on wine and
whatever strikes me at
the moment. But it's
2 rockssandfruit.blogspot.com mostly about wine. NY 2007
Dr. Vino. Wine talk that
3 drvino.com goes down easy NY 2002
Good grape. A wine
3 goodgrape.com manifesto Carmel, IN 2004
Diner's Journal Notes
on eating drinking and
3 thepour.blogs.nytimes.com cooking NY
Tom Warks
Fermentation. The daily
wine blog. The blog set
inside the world of wine
public relations - where
the media the culture Sonoma
4 fermentation.typepad.com and I mingle Valley 2004
VINOGRAPHY: a wine
blog Wine and food
adventures in San
Francisco and around
5 vinography.com the world San Francisco 2004

Table 3
Operational and managerial characteristics of the central blog clusters.

clusters
1 2 3 4 5
Mean rank in top 100 list 22.67 18.25 8.67 1 2
Mean number of incoming links 16.33 16.75 33.33 40 49
Certificates or memberships % 33.33 0 33.33 100 0
Awards % 50 75 66.67 0 0
Sponsors % 16.17 0 33.33 100 0
Advertisements % 83.33 75 100 100 100
Comments on trips % 33.33 62.5 66.67 0 100
Sell goods% 16.17 25 33.33 0 0
Proposals or recomentations % 50 37.5 33.33 100 100
Offer education % 16.17 0 33.33 100 100

Table 4
Correlation coefficients of cluster characteristics with cluster membership and number of incoming links.

Cluster membership Number of incoming links
Rank .611(**) -.680(**)
Date since .165 -.482
Certificates or memberships -.070 .142
Awards .215 -.276
Sponsors -.227 .217
Advertisements -.177 .272
Comments on trips -.192 .127
Sell goods .051 -.221
Proposals recomendations -.202 .302
Offers education -.552(*) .530(*)
(*: p<0.05, **: p<0.01)

CONCLUSIONS
In the present study a contribution was made to the study of communication patterns within wine blogs.
It should be noted that an analysis of a broader set (besides those in the top 100 list) of blogs is necessary in
order for some more general and robust findings to be drawn. Of course considering that even in these Top 100
blogs, the majority is constituted by 81 blogs of little consequence, it may be of little use studying blogs that are
even outside these top 100. What this paper strived to provide is a methodology and a framework for studying
central blogs. The reasoning for this is that hyperlinks between blogs can provide the means to locate the most
popular and informative blogs. By adopting ideas from relative research on travel blogs, the paper proposes a
methodology for locating linkage patterns and describes how blogs are networked, forming in this way central
groups of wine blogs. The paper has shown that 20% of the top 100 wine blogs are really involved in
networking, while the average interlinking is low. However, there exist central blog groups, which can be
located by using the proposed method. Blogs in the top 100 list appreciate these groups possibly because they
have common characteristics or are regarded to be specialists in the field. Blogs in central groups provide
advertisements, recommendations, and education. On the other hand they do provide reports on their awards,
certificates, their sponsors, and they sell goods, or promote trips in a non-uniform fashion. Some are more active
in some fields while others are more active in other.

It is likely for central blogs to be reached by others who navigate through a series of incoming links
that lead to them. In this fashion, it is probable that these blogs have the potential to address many visitors and
therefore it is probable that they have a bigger impact on the provision of information. Locating these blogs is
important and useful for both researchers and practitioners, since one can easily locate them and be informed
and analyze discussions of the most influential blogs. As wine blogs, offer reviews and recommendation about
wine, they are a new wine media source for consumers to consult regarding which wines to purchase (Thach,
2010) thus A-list wine blogs have the potential to influence wine sales. Thach (2010) also illustrated that many
wine brands are being discussed in wine blogs – and not just well known brands but also small unknown
wineries and regions. In this vein less known wineries’ blogs may contact one of the large ‘focal point’ blogs, to
publicize their wines and regions interested in wine tourism may contact these blogs in order to attract visitors.

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