How To Pair Wine With Red Herring
“A rating, while striving to communicate the quality differences among wines, can’t tell you if one wine or another is better in different circumstances. In fact, a lower rated wine considered far more simple than a higher rated wine, might be a far better wine in a particular circumstance.”
This is what I’ve heard for 25 years as people criticize wine ratings. The criticism is that a wine rating can’t forecast the quality of a wine in any given circumstance. The simple Provencal rose might be a better wine on a summer afternoon by the pool.
This criticism of the wine rating process is a perfect example of a Red Herring. The dictionary tells us that a red herring “is something that misleads or distracts from a relevant or important issue.
Whether or not a fresh, delightful Provencal Rose appeals more on a summer afternoon by the pool, this has nothing to do with whether a wine reviewer believes that this Petaluma Gap Syrah is in fact a better made wine and deserving of a higher rating. Likewise, the fact that a Russian River Pinot Noir might be the perfect wine to serve with braised boar, does not take away from the fact that a wine reviewer concludes that finely structured, minerally Coombsville Cabernet Sauvignon is a better made and better wine.
These are two different statements. One does not discount the other.
So, here’s what I’m saying: When you hear someone criticize the idea of wine ratings and reviews by noting that a rating misses or ignores the fact that the lower rated wine is probably a better wine for a given circumstances, tell that critic: “So What!” Tell them that their own statement ignores the fact that the reviewer had no intent of discussing what wine to drink at what time of day or what wine is better with a particular dish. Tell them what “Red Herring” means.