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The problem with subjective reviews without objectivity

By Duane Pemberton

I often find myself in this quandary- trying my best to give my honest opinion about a wine – even rating that wine with our W.E.P. system – while trying to balance my own likes/dislikes with what others may like or dislike. It’s a balancing act and one that I don’t take lightly.

Do I have it perfected? Far from it but here are some steps I try and think about while evaluating a wine:

  • Is it flawed? If yes, then I won’t publish a review on it
  • What is it offering? Is it fruit, acid, tannin, oak or a lingering finish?
  • How does this wine line-up with my own likes and dislikes? I may prefer more acid-driven wines because of my love for food – does that make it the only acceptable palate? Hell no, and I’m glad it’s not – that’s what makes the world go around – all the different opinions we all have on all things subjective.
  • If it doesn’t line up with what I personally prefer, I try and take myself to a place where I’m looking as objectively as I can. For example, I’ve had plenty of really oaky, vanilla-driven, butterscotch California Chardonnay. While it’s not my personal favorite, I can objectively appreciate how and why so many consumers out there LOVE that sort of thing. And under that auspices I can rate it according to the style in which it’s made.

I feel it’s important for any reader of any wine review to take into consideration that all reviews are simply opinions and that I write this post in helping folks to realize that even more.

I can’t speak for any other wine critic than myself – and I can tell you that there has been on many occasions where I find myself not personally liking the particular style of a wine but that from an objective perspective, I can see how so many people may differ with my take on it – I get that.

Those who know me also know that I have little reservation in sharing my opinions on any particular topic but as my love and appreciation for both wine and people have grown since starting WineFoot over four years ago, I’ve learned that it’s okay – in fact a good thing – to have others who disagree. And as a publication that wants to find ways to relate to as wide of an audience as possible, you have my word that we will always strive for subjectivity that’s guided by the guardrails of objectivity where applicable.

  • Joe

    Like your transparency, but isn’t what you say in this post and how you review wine, what all wine bloggers and wine reviewers are doing.  With the exception of the most noted wine critics (R. Parker, J. Robinson. etc.) and a select group of bloggers, aren’t we all just voicing our own opinion on wines we taste.  I too do not post negative reviews.  I believe that is entirely up to the blog writer and his qualifications.  Unlike you, I do not look at a wine objectively and try to understand why others may like a particular wine that I dislike. If I do not like the wine, I will not review the wine.  Nice article!