I’ve just been reading a New York Times article (see In vino veritas – but a rating helps by Gary Rivlin) that explores how powerful wine ratings have become since Robert Parker Jr. first began his 100-point rating system back in the late ’70′s. It’s a pretty well-written article explaining the pros and cons of wine ratings and how they influence the wine-buying public. In this “Golden Age of American Wine,” wine ratings tend to influence the buying patterns of many wine purchasers — collectors, tasters, and drinkers alike — but are always the opinions of individuals.
And yet it would seem that some people just don’t want to buy a wine if it scores any less than 90 points, whether those points are offered by the Wine Advocate (Parker’s rag), the Wine Spectator, Wilfred Wong, or the International Wine Cellar (to name just a few).
I would counter that because wine ratings depend on the subjective — if indeed highly experienced — palates of a few, 90 points should not constitute a make-or-break decision when buying wine. Chances are you’re going to like the wine even if it rates 80-89 points. At least you’ll still find them on the shelves (and often pay less for them). But then, the only way to know that you’re going to like them is to try a few and make up your own mind.
And while you’re doing that, so will I.