Snooth Blog

Snooth User: Philip James

When Critics Dont Know

Posted by Philip James, Jun 1, 2007.

Wine critics do a fantastic job. Collectively, they wade through hundreds of thousands of wines every year, and distill each to a quickly comparable snippet of information. They carefully train their palettes to endure 12 hour days of continuous tasting (trust me, it's hard work and quickly grows boring) and do their best to strip out emotion from the taste of the wine itself.

However, they don't know you . They don't know that you find California Chardonnay over-oaked and overbearing, or that you find Australian Shiraz the most tasty thing ever. They are forced to evaluate a wine based on its 'tipicity' (how much it tastes like what it's supposed to).

You and I are unlikely to care if a wine is typical of a region or type. We'll either like it or not - the rest is irrelevant. Personally, I'm not much of a fan of New World Sauvignon Blanc (too grassy), so an atypical New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is probably more to my liking than a typical one.

There's a real danger in taking a single critics score at face value. A 93 point wine from Robert Parker means that HE felt it was worth 93 points, not that you will. I listened to an interview with Steve Tanzer the other day and was really pleased to hear that he didn't like the 100 point scale (too gradated, implying a precision that doesn't exist in rating wine) and that he felt that consumers should not simply look at a single critics wine's rating and that they needed to read the reviews to understand the wine itself.

Obviously, we don't all have enough time to research all the detail about a wine that we'd like, and I hope this is where Snooth can help. We're bringing in data from hundreds of sources (wineries, importers, critics, distributors, wine awards etc) and allowing users like you and I to add our own 2 cents. In aggregate, this data has real value to everyone and will make your search for wine that much simpler and more successful.

Replies

Blog comment by Stephen, Jun 1, 2007.

Well said Philip. I think it's also important to point out that as much as they try and be impartial, critics clearly have their preferences, especially when they cover a broad section of the wine world. This is why you see fairly large disparities when multiple critics review the same wines. That's why for me, the key is to try new things and slowly figure out what descriptors match the wines I like and look at the tasting notes more than the reviews. I'm very hopeful that Snooth will make this much easier by bringing a lot more variety to me, with detailed notes and descriptions.

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Reply by gr, Jun 5, 2007.

I can't not snicker at the idea of wading through hundreds of thousands of bottles worth of wine.

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Reply by amour, Jan 20, 2010.

SNOOTH is doing as best it can....AM I CORRECT IN SO SAYING??


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