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Month November 2012

Call for More Wines to Review – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

My recent story on Metrics Review of My Video Reviews has certainly helped me to hone in on what I am still need to do with respect to video reviews. I do believe surface has yet to be scratched for videos– and I know there is certainly doubt about that–and yes I do know of someone who gave up at a 1,000 and yet I know someone else who has gone on to do 1,100.

At some point, wine reviews will be discovered to a larger degree than they are today. I am amazed and sometimes disappointed in click rates and yet there is not always a sensible or rational reason. After all–wine is a very emotional subject. Look at how many people defend or offend with ease–that is to say–it is easy to do without trying. Yes, of course, some people mean to be offensive and yet I believe many do not. It is how one might take a review, thought or opinion.
Wine is packed with points of excitement and yet while I always say wine is both complex and simple all at once– I can compare wine videos to YouTube “how to” videos–once an obscure content now it is a primary go to for many people seeking answers. Try a simple exercise: in your preferred search engine type in “how to tie a tie” and the easiest solutions will be found in the video channels. You can see a demonstrative example of what you are seeking solution.

Wine is no different–and in the era of many online written words about wine it is hard to follow the content leader who might be nearest and dearest to you. While some have proclaimed – and overly dramatically so “the wine writer is dead.” There are many content leaders in wine and will continue to show this is still the case. Content leaders can be wine writers and yet add voice, emotion, and motion to wine content…. what a compelling statement–as long as content is well spoken, accurate, and that the personality is likeable and relatable. After all emotion is a connect that we can be either attracted to or not. The written word may not be the stopping point for wine reviews and an additional touch point is needed..

With that being said–I have so many more wine reviews to complete. And I notice that producing them does take more time than what is published–but for me has become an enjoyable thing. I do see a need to continue to publish wine videos.

I Tweet out for sources for wines in the US and often times I get responses and yet I don’t think I always make the necessary connection–hence this article as it is posted and is a placeholder.

I am seeking wines from for my video reviews:

  • Peru
  • Lebanon
  • Jordan
  • Turkey
  • Armenia
  • Luxembourg
  • England
  • Switzerland
  • Cyprus
  • Morocco
  • Tunisia
  • Algeria
  • South Africa
  • Czech Republic
  • Canada: Ontario, Okanagan
  • Michigan
  • New York: Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes
  • Arizona
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • California: Ramona Valley, El Dorado,
  • Colorado
  • New Mexico
  • Mexico: Valle de Guadalupe
  • Argentina: Mendoza, Patagonia, Catamarca, Jujuy, Salta
  • Brazil
  • Chile: Elqui Valley, Limarí Valley, Choapa Valley, Maipo Valley, the Rapel Valley, the Curicó Valley, Colchagua, and the Maule Valley
  • New Zealand: Waiheke Island, Wellington/Wairarapa, Martinborough, Nelson, Waitaki River Basin, Central Otago, Marlborough, West Melton, Banks Peninsula and Rolleston
  • Australia: Southern Fleurieu, Adelaide Hills,Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, Eden Valley, Langhorne Creek, McLaren Vale, Padthaway, Riverland, Wrattonbully, Alpine Valleys, Beechworth, Goulburn Valley, Grampians, Heathcote, Henty, Mornington Peninsula, Pyrenees, Rutherglen, Strathbogie, Yarra Valley, King Valley, Hunter Valley, Mudgee, Orange, Riverina, New England, Southern Highlands, Shoalhaven Coas, Greater Perth, Perth Hills, Peel, Swan Valley, South Western Australia, Blackwood Valley, Geographe, Great Southern, Albany
  • Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker, Porongurup, Manjimup, Margaret River, Pemberton,
  • Tamar Valley
  • China
  • India
  • Austria
  • Portugal: Vinhos Verdes, Porto, Dão, Bairrada, Bairrada, Colares, Carcavelos, Alentejo, Setúbal, Algarve, Tejo, Madeira
  • France: Alsace, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, Corsica, Jura, Languedoc-Roussillon, Loire, Provence, Rhône, Sud-Ouest
  • Spain: Condado de Huelva, Jerez-Xeres-Sherry, Málaga, Manzanilla Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Montilla-Moriles, Sierras de Málaga, Calatayud, Campo de Borja, Cariñena,
  • Somontano, Arlanza, Arribes, Bierzo, Cigales, Ribera del Duero, Rueda, Tierra de León
  • Tierra del Vino de Zamora, Toro, Almansa, Jumilla, La Mancha, Manchuela, Méntrida, Mondéjar
  • Ribera del Júcar, Uclés, Valdepeñas, Catalunya, Conca de Barberà, Costers del Segre, Empordà, Montsant, Penedès, Pla de Bages, Priorat, Tarragona, Terra Alta, Alicante, Utiel-Requena, Valencia, Vinos de Madrid, Ribeira Sacra, Ribeiro, Valdeorras, Monterrei, Txacolí de Bizcaia, Txacolí de Getaria, Txacolí de Álava and Rioja
  • Italy: Aosta Valley, Piemonte, Liguria, Lombardia, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany
  • Marche, Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Basilicata, Apulia, Calabria, Sicilia, Sardinia
  • Greece
  • Rep of Macedonia
  • Bulgaria
  • Romania
  • Moldova
  • Germany: Nahe, Rheingau, Ahr, Franconia, Mittelrhein, Mosel, Pfalz, Hessische Bergstraße, Rheinhessen, Saxony, Württemberg, Saale-Unstrut

While this may seem like every wine region in the world and to a certain extent it is–but the aim for diversity in my wine reviews will come via the written plan I have created and to forge to that path. Still so much more to discover in the wonderful world of wines.

Please point me in the direction or contact me if you have wines you can provide to me as a sample—the only wines I won’t review is private label wines.

And Thank you!

¡Salud!

http://www.jamesthewineguy.com

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:

© 2012 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:             

Metrics Review of My Video Reviews – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

I don’t think many people who review things like wine or food or cars or books or anything else–reviews themselves or if they do publish such results.
I review myself because it is a way to centre myself–reach for other categories, wines, wine regions and so fourth.  I had recently compiled the data points of all of my wine videos as I was insatiably curious.  I had a hunch as to where I was tracking but couldn’t say with certainty as to how many videos I had completed about Zinfandel for example—I knew it was a lot–but I don’t like to use such words like ‘a lot’ I like precision.  Wine is both magical and mystical and I love them equally—it was one of the prime attractors that got me in this suitcase of love of wine. Shared moments of great wine, food and people around are the highest levels of both sophistication and primal need for goodness, comfort and bonding.

My brand–James the Wine Guy is to “demystify wine” so that wine is approachable and can be enjoyed without fear or trepidation but with confidence and delight.  Additionally, my brand’s scope is to seek the world of wine in its totality and not limit myself to one region. I am insatiably curious about this thing called wine — I see exploration of wine for regional and varietal expression as very large book where there are so many more pages ahead to read than have been read.  For me personally I have a deep need to explore, understand and experience wine as exhaustively as possible.

Wine is the most interesting product that exists–a long lineage of at least 8,000 years old.  There is nothing quite like this product category–what other product category has a vintage?  Also, there hundreds of thousands of labels–we don’t even know how many.  The closest comparable might be books but that too does not act or behave in the same manner.  Books have editions and yet very few have a yearly edition.  Wine has a very strong statistical component–and all for logical reasons–the large quantity of product that exists as well as ratings and other metric components build to describe a category that is very complex and very simple all at one time.  I need to explain very simple as being that which is easily understood by the senses all at once–without need for a statistical reinforcement.

Some metrics about my wine videos (I did deduct videos that had no strong component about a specific wine, region, or variety):

  • 63% are domestic (US) and 37% import wines
  • The average score of wines reviewed was 9.02 (out of 10 points) – my ten point system has often been elevated by some people to be 100 points which I am fine with (thought I do say my rating system is more highly logarithmic)
  • My top 5 countries reviewed: 1) US 2) Italy 3) Spain 4) France 5) Hungary
  • My top 5 wine regions reviewed: 1) Napa Valley 2) California (Non-AVA) 3) Dry Creek Valley 4) Rioja 5) Carneros
  • My average video is 2 minutes and 19 seconds
  • 78% are red wine and 22% white wine
  • Top red varieties: 1) Zinfandel 2) Pinot Noir 3) Tempranillo 4) Cabernet Sauvignon 5) Syrah-Shiraz
  • Top white varieties: 1) Chardonnay 2) Pinot Grigio / Pinot Gris 3) Albariño 4) Sauvignon Blanc 5) Pinot Bianco / Pinot Blanc (Tied) and 5) Riesling (Tied)

Some observations:

  • I am glad I reviewed myself as I would like to and it has been in plan to add more international (import) wines to my reviews.  Easy to review a large number of domestic wines since California’s wine country is in my backyard.   Easier to acquire these wines.
  • I am detailing further the list of international wines that I am seeking to taste and review via a written plan
  • I am pleased with the score as I thought it would have been higher (I feel I am tracking to the logarithmic scale of my scoring system).  Simply a 9.5 should constitute fewer number of reviews than 9.0 wines and so fourth
  • Completely surprised that Hungary was number five–I would have suspected Chile, Argentina, Australia or even Croatia
  • My average length of video will increase because I am either going to discontinue the “Mini Vidi” concept or reduce it sharply
  • The red to white wines was some of a surprise as I would have expected a higher number such as 33% was what I would have imagined–a great opportunity to taste and video more white wines
  • Zinfandel was not too surprising (as I am in Zinfandel country) the number one variety (red or white) and it constitutes 12% of all my videos.

I do see this helpful as least for myself–to lean on a richer and more meaningful review plan.  I will be publishing my ‘wish list’ of wines that I am seeking out.  Surprisingly in my wine review quest– I have had very few opportunities to taste Australian and Argentinian wines.  And up until very recently France and Germany were also presenting with fewer opportunities.  French regional wine regions have stepped up their marketing efforts and are working hard in this very competitive landscape.  France still has abundant opportunity as well as Spain, Italy, Germany and Portugal to name a few.

I use to attend a yearly an Australian trade/consumer event and there has not been any at least in the Bay Area for nearly at least half a decade.  There might have been very small events but I was not aware of such event.  Australia is a great wine country–amazing depth, quality and variety characterization.  I do see individual brands or smaller producers coming to events but what would help is a multi city tour.  Shiraz / Syrah might be the reason for no longer touring.  But it is the exact reason to tour to highlight Shiraz / Syrah–by doing so can highlight this wondrous grape and the polished wines that come from Australia.

Argentina has abundant opportunity and yet haven’t seen a consumer / trade event in San Francisco for at least 4-5 years.  Highlighting Malbec is a great thing to do but also to show Argentina’s diversity.

I will continue to challenge myself and to review my experience against my written plan.  I am glad to have done this metrics exercise-it was a great exercise in experience and how this measures to my brands tenets and to ultimately have diversity as a strong suit.

Thank you for your support!
http://www.jamesthewineguy.com

¡Salud!

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:

© 2012 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:             

Domaine Pouillon – Lyle, Washington (Pop. 511) – A Treasury of Wines – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

I met Alexis Pouillon in Portland, Oregon in August of this year.  I had not heard of his winery before–so I was excited to taste wines from his line.  His Domaine is based in Lyle, Washington (population 511)– across the Columbia river from the Portland side.  Alexis label programmes highlights the rural… while winemaking isn’t necessarily thought of as an urban affair–though it is much more in focal point today in the US.  But there is an in-between for many wine countries–somewhere between medium and smaller city and sometimes it is hard to define.

Though easier to define is the rural backdrop… seemingly compelling–an almost “I want to do this too.” Look at Domaine Pouillon’s stewardship page on their website.  A back-to-basics love affair with earth, sky, food and wine.  A compelling proposition that makes its way to the bottle.  Also you’ll see “Lyle, Washington’s 511 population” called out on each label.

Alexis is truly passionate about what he does.  Talking with him at length in Portland about his winemaking philosophy and further tasting through many of his wines (which I am posting the video reviews I completed here to add further colour).  His training begins in California in Mendocino County at Fetzer and an apprenticeship at Chateau Beaucastel gives that bench strength and experience in each bottle.  Alexis further paintbrush is where he sources fruit: Columbia Valley and Horse Heaven Hills (very hard to find any wine from this AVA in San Francisco).

I did taste the following wines in the past few months (and at end of vintage is my score out of 10 points)

  • Domaine Pouillon Columbia Valley Gewürztraminer – 2011 – 9.2
  • Domaine Pouillon Columbia Valley Doux White Wine – 2010 – 9.1 – Chardonnay 57% and Viognier 43% – $18.25 (from producer)
  • Domaine Pouillon Horse Hills Heaven Black Dot Red Wine – 2010 – 9.1 – a very interesting blend of 50% Zinfandel, 20% Grenache, 10%Syrah, 10% Cinsault  and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon – $19.50 (from producer)
  • Domaine Pouillon Horse Heaven Hills Pierre Red Wine – 2009 – 9.2 – 2012 – 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Syrah
  • Domaine Pouillon McKinley Springs Vineyard Horse Heaven Hills Syrah – 2010 – 9.3 – Great label of a French Press – evidence of great Syrah from Horse Heaven Hills and Washington in general
  • Domaine Pouillon Columbia Valley Rosé – 2011 – 9.2 – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy – 40% Grenache, 25% Dolcetto, 25% Syrah and 10% Mourvedre – another great blend and this certainly is breakaway from many and most Rosés

Each wine was superb; lyrical quality and love for wine in each bottle is strongly evident.  Such an excellent producer in Washington State and something worthy of your table.  Good fruit and an attention-to-detail in winemaking is a recipe for great wines.  Washington continues to dazzle me with superb fruit and beautiful expressions that certainly has made me take note.

Great quality wines for very approachable prices—the price points that make it easier to open up on a Monday and still enjoy on Saturday.   Alexis Pouillon does change up his blends on a yearly basis and like many winemakers optimizes the blend for the best bottle possible.  I can’t wait to taste more wines from Domaine Pouillon.

***

Domaine Pouillon

***

http://www.jamesthewineguy.com

¡Salud!

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:

© 2012 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:             

San Francisco Vintners Market – Direct to Consumer – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

I have been attending the San Francisco Vintners Market for the past couple of years.  Center stage of this wine event is the ‘Try and Buy It’ scope.  SFVM is a great way to match wineries to consumers.  I hear consumers asking “where do I buy it?” and the producer gives their response and I have to wonder do consumers follow up with a purchase?  At many wine events probably north of 80-90% of most attendees are not writing notes, take photos of bottle or QR (if there is one) about the wines they are tasting.  This Vintners Market is a great way to have someone take a bottle of wines they have tasted.

I do believe there will be more vintners market in the US as direct-to-consumer is front of mind for consumer and producer.  The difficulty will be the very large number of ABC (alcohol beverage control laws) that can be far reaching in the U.S.  I keep recalling a Nightly Business Report I saw a few years ago mentions about 40,000 ABC laws.  Hence, there is a momentum of both consumer and producer to make meaningful exchanges, however, that momentum can only continue with ABC reform.  I saw a Wall Street Journal article titled Wine: the Web’s Final Frontier cites the difficulty of getting consumer to connect with producer and vice versa.

I do believe that SF Vintners Market is a great place to actualise ‘Tasting is Believing’ i.e. that the only way to enjoy, love and follow a producer or a particular wine is to taste it.  I like attending this event as there is always several producers that I don’t get to taste through the year.  The SF Vintners Market is a great book end left and right of the calendar to Try it and Buy It wine markets.  Given there have been at least 6 SF Vintners Market I can only hope there are many more to come.

***
http://www.jamesthewineguy.com

¡Salud!

***

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

Read more of my wine reviews:

© 2012 James Meléndez / Jaime Patricio Meléndez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:             

Chardonnay I do -James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

Just figuring out a title for this story is hard to place on my computer screen (i.e. ‘pen-to-paper’ so to speak).  Symbolically, I might write the title with arrows pointing at and away lots of question marks and several exclamation points.  Say the word Chardonnay and it seems to be a charged word–and for some positive, others greatly negative filled with yesteryear memories of an abundance of butter and oak.  But instead Chardonnay just needs to be written with no need for apologies or being shy about it.

I have heard other wine writers complain that Chardonnay is such a neutral grape… a ‘why bother proposition’.  If you had never had Chardonnay before and heard only neutral position comments about Chardonnay one might think it is only water and alcohol.  Chardonnay can present with weight, a bit of viscosity, and ranging from very dry and nuanced to apple-citrus, floral, spice and other characteristics.

And yet I know some people who enjoy Chardonnay and figure it to be their go to and central wine.  The memories of overly oaked Chardonnay linger on many a mind and yet there is a whole revision within California itself.  A revision… a reformation— except for mass market Chardonnay where buttery-oaky is a given.  The reformation is to distance and move away from new oak… not necessarily oak entirely and others just using stainless steel–malolactic fermentation can be there or even partially so.  The stylization can be getting to the ‘heart of the matter’ as I like to say– a nuanced characteristic i.e. letting the fruit speak for itself.  And lets tackle the neutral discussion—and I do think it is an unfair assertion.  To believe that Chardonnay is neutral is to starting pining together other wine varieties that might be thought of the same way– and yet there is no mention of this neutralness of flavour in other varieties.

I do enjoy a sparkling with with a kiss of Chardonnay or a lot in the case of a Blanc de Blancs a lot.  I start almost every meal white and end red–the white wine portion can and does include Chardonnay on occasion— I like a very dry Chardonnay and I truly enjoy the nuances.  And I am certainly not in the neutral wine camp. I am enjoying a stainless steel or slight touch of oak from California, Oregon, Australia or Chablis.  I’ll talk about Chablis in another story– a very unique area: one grape–one region and true and un-meandering tradition.

And the reformation or a better said renaissance is here–winemakers are being more bold or just not feeling no need to apologize for producing Chardonnay.  So many wine producers are backed into a corner “why do you make a Chardonnay?” and if they don’t produce one “why don’t you produce one?”

Beauty and gorgeousness in the bottle is a legacy we have today not just in Chardonnay but in all wine varieties today.  These are amazing wine times to enjoy wine and relook, retouch and reconnect with Chardonnay once more.

***

¡Salud!
James the Wine Guy
http://www.jamesthewineguy.com

***
¡Salud!
James the Wine Guy

Read more of my wine reviews:

http://www.jamesthewineguy.com

jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2012 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy — All Rights Reserved. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

James the Wine Guy on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JamesTheWineGuy

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:             

 

Inauguration of Masseria Altemura, Puglia, Italy- October 2012 – A Foot On Ground Report – James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy

I have always been a student of geography–endlessly fascinated as to what other places look like that I have never visited.  Viewing of maps of regions, territories and countries explains relationships, connections and even dependencies (with respect to dependencies I mean to climate, weather, and geology).  I became an even better student of geography and geology by becoming a lover of wine.  Wine helps to explain, codify and give in absolute detail geography and geology.

Italy has been a place where my fascination never ceases–it just wonders and continues.  After all there is not just one Italy but many Italy’s.  Italy’s interesting shape of a boot makes one wonder what do the extreme northerly or southerly borders and frontiers look like?  What must the boot heel look like? (I mean from an on the ground perspective).  Also Puglia is surrounded by water– the Adriatic and the Ionian seas–these life giving elements help to characterize both the human experience as well as the natural and viniculture and viticulture experience.

A picture can only tell you so much and hence a visit gives subtleties and contrasts.  I visited Puglia this past October (2012) and delighted in each footstep I made–after all Puglia became more and more vibrant after I had been tasting through Primitivo, Negroamaro and Aglianico for number of years before visiting in person.  The connection with geography and geology was enthralling because of my love for wines from Puglia.  Before stepping on the sacred ground in Puglia I was able to taste the splendor glass-by-glass.   Primitivo, Negroamaro and Aglianico are some of the leading grapes in the south of Italy and Puglia.  Food friendliness of wine seems to be a cliché but I would add not necessarily cliché but an important attribute to recall and for enjoyment of wine.  Primitivo is extremely friendly and distinct from this region and has had a home for some time–for those lovers of Zinfandel–Primitivo is a must–after all there is a grounded familiarity as they are the same grape.  I recommend Negroamaro as a very distinct wine grape–Negro comes from the Italian word for Black and Amaro from the ancient Greek word “maru” meaning bitter–hence a dark bitter grape–but I would say substitute the word bitter for dry and notes of black fruit and earthen notes.

As a veteran of wine tasting and visiting many a wine facility–I marveled at the sterling facility of Masseria Altemura–elegant, in touch with the landscape, respectful and yet exciting.  I witnessed the inauguration of this pristine winery and vineyard.  I walked all aspect at the Masseria Altemura–and I took to the vineyard–and marveled at the vines that I was seeing.  The vines were meticulous and harvest had taken place already–but care of vines of hectare over hectare expresses commitment and a love for the vine.   The limestone soil was moist from a recent rain–my Prada shoes got a bit of mud but I didn’t mind.  I wanted to be on the same soil that makes Primitivo, Aglianico, Negroamaro, Fiano, and Sussumaniello.  The current vineyard is 82 hectares (202 acres) and in perfect harmony were olive trees neatly aligned as well.   I marveled a moment and then went back to the activities and speeches (in Italian and yes I understood all that was spoken–though speaking in Italian is more of a challenge for me).  I did not need to speak Italian to taste the fruit of this vineyard—well paired with regional foods paired at the luncheon.  I tasted the Rosamaro which was the first time I ever tasted a sparkling wine from Negroamaro–completely distinct and well produced.  I did taste the Primitivo de Manduria, Aglianico and Negroamaro.  Each wine gave a great homage not just to the inauguration of this winery but a great snapshot and expression of what is distinct and honorable about wines from Puglia.

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I look forward and eagerly so for a repeat visit to Puglia and for more ‘Foot-on-ground’ tours.  I also loved seeing the many cactus that were quite abundant–I grew up with landscapes where cactus is common–I didn’t expect to see them in Puglia–a most important way of understanding place and experiencing familiarity.   I was delighted and honored to be at this special occasion and inauguration of Masseria Altemura–and when you are in Puglia– I recommend a visit.

***

http://www.masseriaaltemura.it/

http://www.zoninusa.com/masseria-altemura/wineries/masseria-altemura

¡Salud!
James the Wine Guy
http://www.jamesthewineguy.com

***
¡Salud!
James the Wine Guy

Read more of my wine reviews:

http://www.jamesthewineguy.com

jamesthewineguy.wordpress.com © 2012 James Meléndez / James the Wine Guy — All Rights Reserved. James the Wine Guy also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

James the Wine Guy on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JamesTheWineGuy

See James the Wine Guy channel for videos on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/jamesthewineguy

Follow, subscribe, like, browse: