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Why Wine Ratings Suck….

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about how enamored the wine industry is with the 100-point rating system developed by the esteemed Robert Parker. It’s so set into stone that it’s become the universal system of rating wine; however, it has some grossly flawed issues with it that all too many folks seem to overlook:

- Wine is too subjective to ever have a rating attached to it:
Think about it – do you or I have Robert Parker’s palate? Nope. What if the winemaker’s decisions were to bring about a more vegetal aroma from the wine (as seen in many of the “old-world” producers) – does that make him wrong? What if the person doing the judging is biased against oak? Too many variables here to take into account through a numerical system.

So why is the wine industry so beholden to him and others like him? The real answer is because they know scores help move huge volumes of wine for them, that’s why.

- Ratings rarely ever take into account the price:
Why should a wine that costs $60 bucks get a rating of say 92 when there are wines less than half that price which can get the same score? What does that mean? And why would anyone buy a 92point wine at $60 dollars when they can get the same “quality” for less? Doesn’t make sense to me. A more exaggerated example is – would a $300 dollar 95point wine be 10-times better than a $30 dollar 93point wine? Hardly.

- Ratings don’t take into account the varietal of grape:
Think about it – how can you begin to adequately compare a 92-point Cabernet Sauvignon to a 92-point Viogner? Impossible. Ever seen a 100-point Sauvignon Blanc? Nope.

Please help me take back the Wine Industry from the “Snob Mafia” have have hijacked it into nothing more than bogus ratings and treating those whom disagree with them like crap. EMBRACE YOUR OWN PALATE! If you like a wine, drink it up! If you don’t, move on to a different one – your palate will never lie to you!

  • Dan

    This is a pathetically weak argument against wine ratings.

    1. Of course the ratings are subjective. So is a recommendation from a friend or your local wine shop owner. I can’t imagine anyone seriously claims that wine ratings are objective. We all know they’re subjective and merely the opinion of one person or possibly a small panel. Even composite ratings like those on CellarTracker are merely the consensus opinion. But they do convey quantitatively and how good that person or group thinks a wine is in a way that “pretty good” doesn’t.

    2. Why on earth do you think ratings should take price into account? There’s a figure that takes price into account and it’s called PRICE. You can very easily do a QPR by comparing score to price if you like. But a wine is not less good because it is more expensive, nor is it any better because it is cheaper. We may want more or less of it because of price, but different people are going to have different valuations and different amounts of resources to devote to wine purchases. So why should any one person’s evaluation of what is “cheap” or “expensive” factor into a wine rating, when we can all see exactly what the price of a wine is and make the judgment for ourselves?

    3. Actually, you just made an argument for the fact that wine ratings DO take varietal into account. You just stated that we’d never see a 100 point sauvignon blanc. Why? Because wine ratings take varietal into account and ratings for Sauvignon Blanc will probably tend to max out in the mid-90s. Isn’t that what they should do? If one varietal is capable of achieving better wines (yes, in one’s own subjective evaluation), shouldn’t it tend to get higher scores than a lesser varietal? There’s no need for the best sauvignon blanc to be scored 100 points simply because it’s the best of its varietal; it’s easy enough to compare intra-varietal scores to each other if you want to know what wine is the best of a varietal.

    There are plenty of good arguments again wine ratings, particularly ratings on a 100 point scale, but you’ve failed to make any of them.