Sunday, September 4, 2011


A whole lot is put into the scoring of wines. Some of the more reputable wine magazines hire people full time to travel to different wineries and taste their wines. but what does a score really mean? What does a best value wine really correspond to? It is mind boggling that a publication will score hundreds of the same varietal, but name a wine that is not the highest scoring and cheapest their 'best value wine.' It seems to me that there must be something else at play.

I am not here to speculate on why, but I am pretty opinionated when it comes to scoring. My attitude? I could care less (until we score a 98, then who knows :)). To me, scoring builds on the enigma and aristocratic cloak surrounding wine. Wine should not be intimidating, it should be something shared and expressed. At the core of winemaking is the desire to make the best wine possible and have the wine enjoyed, and the drinker should never forget that. They should follow their own tastes and smells and let that be the guide to what they enjoy, not the opinions of a few people who may have other vested interests in the industry.

And take it from me, I was very intimidated the first time I stepped in a winery. I was so worried about looking foolish that I was afraid to speak my mind. I will never forget the first time I was invited to taste with winemakers at the end of our day. Instead of talking with the winemakers and comparing what I was perceiving and thinking, I wrote everything down in a journal. Even though I had been working in cellars for a few years at that point, and a few years with those winemakers, I was still nervous about getting laughed out of the room. Or worse, to deflate their confidence in me as a budding winemaker. But wouldn't you know it, everything I wrote down jived with what they were thinking. It slowly began to dawn on me that they were just as interested in my opinions as I was theirs; after all their average consumer is not a winemaker, it was someone roughly like me. And it isn't that hard to pick out a bad wine from a good one, as long as a wine is free from obvious flaws then your opinion will be accepted, and you may find that wine people are much more open to discussing their product than you thought.

So please, don't be intimidated and don't let scores be your only guide. You are equipped with a very efficient machine for tasting wine, your 5 senses (ok, 4). They will not let you down, and don't forget that a wine is meant to be enjoyed, not scored. So if you enjoy it, don't worry about the score!

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