Who Says This Wine’s Not Good?
Who’s to say?
That’s the question that Ryan over at CalWineriesBlog asks about whether a wine is good or bad or average. It’s a good question. His answer is is YOU. That is, if you are drinking the wine all that really matters is what you think of it.
But this is really beside the point. The real question is who’s opinion will you take in helping decide if you buy a wine?
While I subscribe to the idea that in the end all that matters is what your own palate determines, that still doesn’t answer the question of who do you rely on before the bottle is bought. Ryan thinks the emergence of blog-generated wine reviews is a good thing, a democratizing force that moves more folks away from relying on critics, who I think he considers to be wine snobs:
"Fortunately, over the past couple of years, things have been changing.
The development of the wine blogosphere, although still in its infancy,
has enabled a more democratic take on wine and the wine industry.
Instead of reading a wine publication, many people are searching blog
posts for wine reviews. These reviews are a better representation of
public opinion because they are not corrupted by the forces influencing
major wine magazines."
Ryan is correct. Many folks are reading wine blogs and other user generated wine comment venues for advice. I agree, too, that these kinds of reviews are better representations of the "public opinion" on wine. But let’s not write of critics as either corrupted or useless.
I think Ryan is referring to the fact that many well know sources of wine criticism comes from wine magazines that take advertising. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe that these critics are influenced by advertisers when they review a wine. But I’d also note that these critics are often among the most experienced wine tasters on the planet.
I don’t think it can be denied that the more wine you taste, the better wine taster you are. The experience alone of sampling many different wines from different appellations, from different vineyards and from different winemakers provides one with a important perspective which is vital to good, honest criticism. I’m more interested in the opinion of a movie reviewer who has sat through thousands of films and understands the history and benchmarks of slapstick, film noir, anime, westerns, horror, thrillers and activist cinema than I am someone who might only have a passing acquaintance with these genres. For me the same goes for wine.
That isn’t to say that one must be a professional critic to have this kind of experience. But it’s more likely you do. From the consumers’ perspective, you need only test the critics opinion with your own to determine if there is an agreement. If not, move on to another source…perhaps a blogger, a wine lover who posts reviews, a Kermit Lynch, a friend or another critic.
I’m not sure bashing professional wine critics is a good idea. However, I do know that Ryan at CalWineriesBlog has delivered an interesting set of ideas to consider