Wine critics – what good are they?

This is a scary topic for a post. It is pretty much a catch-22. If I love critics I am a suck-up & a “score-whore”. If I hate them then I am a non-conformist joining the ranks of those who say down with “The Man”. And anywhere in between and I am an indecisive, politically correct, good for nothing.

Real generally…

Wine critics are GREAT. They help us weave our way through a daunting maze of products and help us to determine which of these products are worth our time.

Wine critics are BAD. They know nothing about us yet tell us what we should like, should not like, what brands we should value & patron, and whose wines we should not dare touch with a 10 foot pole.

I’m writing about critics today as a topic came up on a message board I frequent. Interestingly enough, not too many people on the board (at least initially) seemed to pick up on this “issue”. The board is moderated by Daniel Rogov, Israel’s preeminent wine critic. Rogov began a post about several wines he reviewed by stating the following…

Although many of the wines I re-tasted during this two day voyage (17 and 18 December) showed a high level of consistency between this and earlier tastings, some showed so dramatically different and almost invariably better that one cannot help but wonder in a few cases at least precisely what happened between tastings. Among the possibilities – wines coming into their own, wines that have been somehow “doctored”, separate bottlings from different batches or even different grapes.

This last statement was what i found most disconcerting. Do wine critics and the scores they give have such an influence in todays society that wineries will resort to misrepresenting themselves so as to gain a better review or higher score – assuming this will result in their selling more wine or gaining a better reputation??? Don’t the consumers who ultimately buy said wine know enough that if the “REAL” product is crap they will know it and NOT buy it. To take things a step further, the consumer and their ultimate realization that the wine does not live up to its review might even resent the misrepresentation and speak BADLY about the wine.

And what about the critic? Given the apparent POWER that critics have in determining a winery’s ultimate success or failure has led many a critic to be reviled and loathed by wineries whose products did not receive positive reviews. Does the associated jealousy & hatred justify providing the critic with samples which do not properly represent the product the critic thinks he/she is reviewing??? Should the winery not consider their disappointment & think of the credibility the critic will lose???

We are living in an age where the PURE has become UN-pure. Athletes in America’s “past time” (baseball) take steroids or other artificial enhancers so that they can hit more home runs or pitch the ball faster. CEO’s & politicians lie, cheat & steal so that they can accumulate greater wealth & power.

I LOVE WINE. Its purity. Its simplicity. Its diversity. Its inebriating effects :-)

MUST wine be another means for people to lie, cheat & steal to accumulate more fame, fortune & wealth? Saddens me…but I suppose that is life. Wake up and smell the casis, mocha & licorice Wine Tasting Guy… WINE is a business like any other. Play by its rules or be stuck drinking that Australian Wine with the critter label or that Californian wine with the nickname that starts with a “two” and whose second & third words rhyme with Fu… I mean “truck’.

OK, it ain’t that bad. But drama sells. I promise to revisit the whole critic issue in future posts. But for now, next time you pick up a bottle of wine at a shop and consider purchasing it because some critic said it is a 92 and is elegant, with silky something & velvety something else – think twice… and consider trying it for yourself before making the investment.

Happy wine drinking!!!!


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