Monday, May 25, 2009

Wine scoring

Of all the wine notes I posted recently, most people only look for one thing: the score. The writer can write paragraphs of beautiful, flowery prose, but the only thing that earns money is his/her numerical score. Depressing, but unfortunately, the reality of the industry.

The culprits are the American critics. Yes, the Brits and the French score as well, but no one has as much power as The Man and The Establishment. With a casual bump from a score of 91 to a 95, a wine's value can triple overnight. So how do these people score, given the economic power behind their verdicts?

It's surprisingly, an intuitive process. They taste, and somehow, a number floats into their head. Yes, they possess vast experience from tasting thousands of wines annually, but in essence, they simply assign a number to a wine and move on. No matrix, no cumulative scoring of individual components, just a final score. Smell, slurp, spit, score - all in 10 seconds.

We're all familiar with the 100 point system - we've been subjected to it since grade school. But think about your Grade 9 math score. Your final score isn't a number that your teacher thinks you deserve - it's the result of all the separate scores you achieved from quizzes, tests, assignments, final exams...a final score derived from all the components tested during the semester. That's the accurate way to score, and a true reflection of performance.

I'm not going to rehash old arguments, about the silliness of comparing a 92 point and a 93 point wine, or why a wine scores 80 just by showing up in a bottle. But what's truly silly with the 100 point system is that it implies that there is such thing as a 100 point wine, or a perfect wine. Think about that. Wine is a living thing, just like a human. Is there such thing as a perfect human being? Think about how silly that concept is.

In conclusion, my point is to ignore scores all together. There will always be the types of people who buy based on score, but we're better than that. Buy on taste, buy on personal preference - don't buy based on a random number assigned to a wine, which is in itself a reflection of someone else's taste.

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