To Score or Not to Score? That Is the Question!

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How do you buy your wines? Is it the labels that pull you in, the varietal or do you use scores? A recent discussion with a friend brought the subject of wine scores to my attention.

Why are there scoring systems?

Having worked for wineries, wine retailers and tasting through my fair share of wine, I see the value of having a system where a consumer can quickly find a bottle of wine that has a perceived value. Key word – perceived.

What most consumers forget (in my opinion) is that one person creates these scores. Numbers are arbitrary and opinions are subjective.

So, why all the hype? As I recently mentioned in a former post, Robert Parker was the first on the scene to create value to wine. It’s hard to find a fault with creating value in wine.

However, it could easily be argued that his scoring system and those that are similar to his are beyond inflated. It may be a “100 point” scale, but the ramifications of getting a 90 point rating and say a 70 point rating… The 70 point wine isn’t even mentioned and blacklisted to all suppliers. Consider, even, the difference between a 90 point and a 95 point wine… I liken it to a bum rush from score hungry consumers! And almost a guarantee to getting your wines sold out – or any future wine you make, for that matter.

Important to the 3 tier distribution system our wine industry is based upon, but does it really help the customer make informed purchasing decisions?

I argue, sometimes.

I can help a customer with their wine purchases based upon my palate, knowledge and familiarity with the wine. Will they like it? Who knows, I hope so. I wouldn’t steer any customer to a wine I didn’t already think was worth purchasing.

On the other hand, the score hungry wine consumers make me want to punch them in the face (not really, but one customer really has made it more than just a fleeting thought – you know who you are score fiend). If you really appreciate wine, a fancy label and an even fancier score aren’t going to stop you from expanding your palate.

Keep a diverse palate. Period.

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