Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The good of wine ratings

There are a lot of people that complain about wine ratings. Most of the people I know from college have only the slightest grasp of what a rating is and what it means for the wine. For me, it is important if a wine is rated, but a rating is not everything.

How many products have over 7,000 brands to choose from? I think I can name five brands of cereal, six brands of mustard, and perhaps (if I stretch really far) eight or nine brands of salad dressing. However, when you walk into a wine store and look around there are easily hundreds of different wine brands sitting on the shelf, waiting for you to make a decision on which one to purchase.

How are you supposed to make a decision as to which one to buy?? There are large bottles, small bottles, green bottles, brown bottles. There are bottles with cute cartoons on the label (be wary) and bottles with funny names (be even more wary). There are bottles that look like you need a jackhammer to open and bottles that look like you could sneeze and they might break. Bottles, bottles, more bottles, and then even more bottles...

It's daunting! You almost prostrate yourself in relief when a helpful employee comes over and asks you what you are looking for and then points you in a direction. However, the only way to have a suggestion coming into the wine store is by checking out the ratings.

Some writers talk about how ratings are like training wheels. I think this is pretty accurate (although those that know me might find this funny since I do not know how to ride a bike). Wine ratings are, when all is said and done, a report of what one person thought about the wine. The higher or lower the rating the more or less they would recommend the wine over another. I think the only way to know if you agree with the individual rating the wines is if you taste the ones they rated and see if your tastes match theirs. If not, perhaps it is time to find a new writer to follow (there are plenty out there).

As a final note, a writer who I read often on his blog is Steve Heimoff, the West Coast Editor of Wine Enthusiast. He posted about reviews and the people who malign them on his blog. It is an interesting read, mostly because you get to see the cat fighting in the comments.
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