Thursday, October 20, 2011

Score Revolution



I'll admit openly, that I have an uneducated palate, that I like wines for different reasons at different times. It's one of the reasons I've never liked the 100 point scale for scoring wines - I don't like someone telling me what I should or shouldn't like. I understand the scale from a marketing standpoint, and, of course, would be ecstatic if I happened to make a wine that approached a perfect score. Good scores = good sales.

Another problem is that so much of the wine scoring is done out of context: multiple bottles, no food, etc. Tasting at the winery or on a picnic or with two different meals will have different results in each context. When I taste wine I initially just look at the hedonistic side: do I like the wine? Then, depending on context, I might look a little deeper: Does it reflect where it was made? Does it complement the food? Matt Kramer recently wrote in the Wine Spectator, to wine novices, urging them to go beyond pleasure and search for an "edge." I like it. As an added bonus, I recently discovered the Wine Century Club, where one is urged to try at least one hundred types of grape varietals - that's a 100 I can get behind!

Turns out that I'm not the only one who doesn't appreciate the 100-point scale. There have always been folks out there who decried the formulaic approach, instead relying on the stories inherent in the wine and the situation surrounding the tasting of it. Well now, Christophe Hedges of Washington’s Hedges Wine Estate, has created an organization to let people publicly state their mind, the Score Revolution.

The manifesto is somewhat over the top and I think that might be the point. A quick excerpt: "The 100 point rating system is a clumsy and useless tool for examining wine. If wine is, as we believe, a subjective, subtle, and experiential thing, then by nature it is unquantifiable. Wine scores are merely a static symbol, an absolute definition based on a singular contact with a wine, and thus completely ineffective when applied to a dynamic, evolving, and multifaceted produce."

I signed the manifesto to support this movement - while I don't think the wine industry is quite ready to get rid of the wine scoring scale, it's nice that someone is starting this dialogue and bringing some social media attention to it. At  the time I signed the manifesto, there were 578 individuals and 128 wineries/organizations - one thing that was a bummer is that you don't show up immediately, but rather after a review process. Several days later, still no dice. No immediate gratification there.

For an interesting counterpoint article between W.R. Tish and W. Blake Gray, head over to the Palate Press.

What's your opinion on the 100-Point Scale?

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1 comment:

  1. Not being much of a wine connaisseuse, if I'm buying a new wine (as a gift) I sometimes look at the points - or just buy one for its interesting label:)

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