Same As It Ever Was: Wine Ratings (and prices)
Claire Adamson writing at WineSearcher.com looked at average wine ratings now and then from the WineSearcher’s “own average wine scores, calculated from a range of the world’s most famous critics, and retrofitted them back to the 1990 vintage.” (not entirely sure what this means)
What did she find? The rate of change is “almost entirely horizontal”.
Adamson concludes, “So where is all this concern over skyrocketing wine scores coming from? Could it be that it’s an elite circle of hysteria, a kind of self-perpetuating myth? And is it all just adding to the intoxicating power of the wine score over consumers? Probably.”
My thought is that with the increase in the number of wines in release in 2014 over 1990 means with the same rate at which 95 point+ scores are given, it seems like there are more high scoring wines. Additionally, the fact that very low scores (68 points or 72 points) are rarely published anymore probably gives folks the impression that there are more high scores given up.
Adamson does a good job of reporting here assuming her numbers she uses are up to snuff. However, I do take issue with one thing she does write. This:
“Wine scores should reflect the quality of a wine, of course, but they should also surely reflect the price of the wine, not inflate it.”
Isn’t a wine great no matter what the price? Doesn’t a wine possess wonderful balance, layers of flavors and lovely structure no matter what it is priced? Outstanding wine is usually made in small amounts. There is usually great demand for these wines. They are priced high for this reason. It’s the same reason that many other products that are in high demand and low supply are priced out of the range of the vast majority of people there is nothing wrong with this. In fact, there are only two alternatives to correcting this supposed problem:
- Put a national price cap on wines (who thinks that’s going to happen?)
- Actively promote a movement to ignore really good wine.
So, no wine scoring inflation and the most celebrated wines are those that are most expensive and least available to the majority of wine drinkers. Sounds about right to me.