Ratings, wine competition medals, and wine reviews can be important reference points that can influence people to select and buy one wine over another. If these ratings, award medals and reviews are unbiased and fair, these “persuaders” can serve as a good indicators of what the wine lover might experience when drinking the wine that was rated and reviewed. Additionally, These “reference points” also help establish the economic value of the selected vintage.
But all of this begs a question: Are current ways of reviewing, rating and awarding medals an absolutely unbiased and fair way of doing what they are supposed to do? Or are they simply a manifestation of the personal taste and subjective opinions of those who care enough to write up their reviews? Are the medals assigned to a wine by esteemed wine-tasting judges and experts awarded according to consistent standards or can it be said that they are awarded rather randomly?
I think it is important for me to acknowledge that as far as I am concerned, wines fall into two main categories: First, there are the wines that I want to enjoy. The wine does not have to be a medal winner, it just has to please my palate and pair well with the particular dish I am eating. Second, there are wines that I might regard as an investment: Wines that I think will appreciate in economic value, or wines with such hefty price tags that I have to wonder how they will appeal to my palate. Will they really offer exceptional aroma, superior taste, greater pleasure? In an earlier article I wrote about Penfolds' $108,000 offering: http://www.signaturewines.com/blogger/sir-may-i-have-a-drop-of-wine-maybe-two-possibly-three-please. What signatures did this wine possess that rendered it worthy of such an exalted price?
I have a great many friends and acquaintances whose knowledge and experience far exceeds my own and who regularly serve as wine judges and wine critics. So I’d like to ask them this question: How do ratings, wine competition medals and wine reviews impact the value of wine? Can these correlations be standardized or explained empirically?
My intention in writing this article is to raise questions about whether there are fixed standards by which one can educate oneself for the purpose of reviewing, curating, and judging wines, both in terms of assessing a wine’s potential value as well as selecting some standardized adjectives that can be used to describe how a wine can be appreciated based upon what is, in reality, another person’s experience.
While delving into this subject I discovered the research of Mr. Robert T. Hodgson and his research that resulted in a very interesting paper published in the Journal of Wine Economics: “An Examination of Judge Reliability at a major U.S. Wine Competition”.
Here, for your own personal edification, is a link to his research: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.393.1195&rep=rep1&type=pdf.
As for myself: I have to admit that medals do influence me because I tend to purchase and drink “gold medal” wines when I can. So, maybe I have to take a step back and learn how to appreciate wine not for the medals it wins but for the poetry and art that it is.
Please feel free to add your own comments below … for my benefit as well.