Wine Ratings: Catering to the Herd Mentality or A Necessary Evil?

Wine RatingsThe clinical and somewhat erroneous methods of scoring or rating wine does not take into account the human factor, not only dysfunctional to its pleasures, but unfairly disqualifying otherwise perfectly agreeable wines. Yet, how else does the novice wine consumer or enthusiast alike, wade through an overwhelming glut of hype? Curtis Marsh explores this polemic.


To score or not to score? That is the nagging question every wine writer, wine or hospitality industry professional must grapple with at some stage of their career. For a professional wine writer it is discomfortingly critical to one’s reputation and possibly the only way to establish credibility or make any commercial sense out of an otherwise passion-driven philanthropic occupation.

Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with scoring, gaining much intellectual stimulation analysing, interpreting and categorising wine, indeed almost to the point of self vindication, yet detesting the misinterpretation and exploitation of scores outside of the professional milieu. As tempting as it is to join the status quo and gloat in the power of the numerical pen, I continue to procrastinate over my duplicitous principals; it remains my bête noire and a conundrum I am unlikely to reconcile.

I am however, more troubled by the growing cast of wine consumers in Asia obsessed with scores — seemingly an inherent process for choosing premium wines these days. It is not just the credulous trust in scores that is a concern, but the dependence of wine merchants and marketers on critics to sell wine through the blatant exploitation of ratings. Even more worrying is the reality that the average consumer in Asia is oblivious to these issues, being relatively new to Western style wine and coincidently reared on the 100-point scoring system.

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This article was publish in Cuisine & Wine Asia. All Rights Reserved.


By Curtis Marsh | Buying Wine | Related to: ,

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