The Truth Behind Scoring Wine

Posted by The Wine Whore |

A lot of great wine questions have been pouring in the HAWO feature of the site. Usually I send these questions out to my Wine Whore friends for their advice but the other day, a question came in that I knew would be best answered by myself alone:

"I would like to hear your viewpoint about which system to use in order to be able to correctly judge wine."

This is a great question!

Here's the scary truth behind "correctly" judging wine: Everyone has different tastes. Sure, you can comment about the "quality" of a particular wine, how much you like it, or even critique how well balanced the wine is made... but in the end, subjective components can NEVER be used to judge anyone else's taste but your own.

If I was to correctly judge a bottle of wine would require a way of quantifying how much ANYONE would enjoy it. Let's be reasonable and logical here... You can score a test, you can measure results, but you CAN'T score taste.

What CAN I reasonably judge in a bottle of wine given the tools, resources, and budget that I have available?

I can tell you whether or not I enjoyed the wine, what qualities that I liked/disliked, and whether or not I thought it was worth the money. Sure I could probably give you some tasting notes too, but I find those get pretty redundant, boring, and worthless VERY quickly!

Does that mean that wine reviews are worthless?

Hell no! They're not worthless, but they also can't be taken as gospel. Instead, you should read wine reviews of all types much like you would the comments on Amazon.com or even the anecdotal advice/stories of your friends. You may find that your experiences and tastes are the same as another person, but that should not mean that you base your decisions entirely upon what they say... after all, the best way to find out is to TRY IT YOURSELF!

Hope that helps!

Think about it... how do YOU evaluate the wine you drink?

(This message brought to you by The Wine Whore)

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drinknectar said...

Frackin' awesome way to put it. I read articles by people who are crapping on the 100 pt system or the 5 star system or grading, blah blah blah...it's all subjective, but it gives people a frame of reference. If you consistently find that Parker's 94 pt wines don't appeal to you but you love 1WineDude's recommendations, then screw Parker and listen to 1WineDude.

As people, we review everything. Their service sucked, the lighting is too bright, the color makes me sick - it's all subjective and rarely science, BUT - it helps people feel at ease when deciding on something complex.

Good work, whore!

Josh @nectarwine on twitter

boozebrotherz said...

Very True! A person like/dislike/affection for a wine is not always related to its quality. Your advice to read numerous reviews/blogs etc is great. I more well rounded advice you can get, the better the drinking experience.

Chris @ Wine a Day said...

How do I evaluate the wine I drink... It is a great question and something I am passionate about - so please excuse my ranting.

I tend to express my expereince with a wine I try - rather than focus on the wine itself. This usually involves a great dinner I have with a wine, or an enjoyable tasting at a winery while talking with the people there. Obviously the total experience influences my "rating" of the wine. But I don't care! Because if it was a "bad" wine I wouldn't enjoy the experience as much.

It isn't scientific I know, but if someone says to me "I had x wine at a wonderful dinner last night and we had a great time". I am more likey to look for that wine than if someone says, "I had y wine and gave it 4.58792 out of 10." But that is my own personal preference, just like everyone's personal taste in wine.

WineCon said...

Hey, lets rate the wine raters and see whose palate best represents us wine consumers/connoisseurs/whores. Pick a wine that has been rated in the 90's by; RP/WA,WS,ST,WE,GV... and put them to the test. I think it will be very interesting. I'm thinking of doing that for the first WineCon myth buster. What do you think? @fgj1013

Richard Auffrey said...

For my wine reviews, I basically tell people whether I recommend them or not. I will sometimes highly recommend specific wines, or note they are good values. I don't rely on wine scores or any specific rating system.

I think consumers really just want to know if the wine they buy is good or not. They can follow my recommendations, and if they coincide with their own, then they will put trust in me.

tampawinewoman said...

My two cents @ http://wp.me/sCZ9s-37

However, it tends to not be just a yes or no issue. I think we agree that the end result is about you, the wine drinker.

What do you like? Drink what you like, like what you drink.


Shannon Casey said...

I agree. 100 point systems, to me, are useless. Who can tell me the difference between an 86 and an 87? More importantly, can the same wine reviewer reach the same score with the same wine if tasted blind? I doubt it. That is why I don't score wine on my site. I simply talk about what I taste, what I like and dislike, and what style of wine it is. Simplistic? Yes, but it is REAL.

The Wine Whore said...

The interesting thing here is that everyone agrees that scoring wine is not the be-all-end-all way to judge it.

Do you think this will cause scores to go away in the future? I know I'll always use numerical scores if nothing else as an addition to my notes for those who like to look at them!

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