Since June 13th, 1985, the Wine Forum on CompuServe has been a neat corner of cyberspace where folks could meet, hang out, and gab about good wine, beer, spirits, coffee, food, and anything that came to mind. I stumbled across it not long after Pam and I were married in 1993, and eventually ended up as one of their Section Leaders managing the Food and Beverages section where folks gabbed about good cooking and pairing food with beer, wine, or whatever. For a number of years wrote an online column called “Jim’s Kitchen” where I explored pairing good food and wine.
Sadly, Jim Kronman, the forum’s founder and leader for the last 20 years, was just notified that AOL/Netscape is closing the forum come 3 November. AOL, a clueless bunch of feckless, stupid idiots, bought out CompuServe somewhere back in ‘96 and promptly set about running CompuServe into the ground. Yet another reason why AOL is the premiere case study in How Not To Run Things. It’s another sad milestone that most all CompuServe communities, some of the first anywhere in cyberspace, have all been shut down by now.
The Wine Forum was instrumental in kicking off my interest in good food and wine. I made several close, life-long friends there, and met folks who were incredibly generous with their knowledge, time, and yes, wine. I’ve been fortunate enough to have tasted some amazing juice that I never would have had access to on my own. Elliot Apter had us to a party where I had several different vintages of d’Yquem, a 1935 Graham’s Port, and some amazing Bordeaux. Michael Straus had Pam and I over for a number of dinners, sharing his amazing cooking and some amazing gems from his cellar. His passion about food, wine, and good coffee reinvigorated me, and his attitude toward things gave me the boost in confidence to be able to speak up about my preferences for various things, regardless of the opinions of others. Dave Sit held wine for us during our nomadic stint, cooked us great food, served us staggering wines, and steered us to some amazing restaurants in the DC area. The list could go on for some time, but maybe you get the idea.
It’s too bad that such a neat corner of cyberspace is gone, but I suppose that’s just part of evolution. It’s a sad day and I’m bummed, but it’s also a neat time to reflect on the many fine relationships and experiences I had through the forum.