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On Tasting
More on the Impact of Scoring Wines Out of 100
Thursday, 14th September, 2006  - David Farmer

An article in the New York Times by Gary Rivlin, August 13th, 2006, highlighted a Valentin Bianchi Cabernet 2004 being given a Wine Spectator score of 90/100.

Brian Zucker who handles the direct sales of K&L Wine Merchants (Califonia) is quoted as saying; "If it had scored an 89, we would have sold a tiny fraction of what weíll end up moving. But because of the 90, and considering the wine's price, $12.99... absolutely confident that K&L would sell out its inventory of the Argentine cabernet."

Rivlin continued; "A rating system that draws a distinction between a cabernet scoring 90 and one receiving an 89 implies a precision of the senses that even many wine critics agree that human beings do not possess. Ratings are quick judgments that a single individual renders early in the life of a bottle of wine that, once expressed numerically, magically transform the nebulous and subjective into the authoritative and objective."

A number next to a review and tasting note of the wine is valuable information and with the price arms the shopper with useful buying information. Consider though the potentially corrupting influences and this was discussed in How a three star wine became a 90 point wine .

Rivlin highlights one aspect; "Today, so many critics are using the 100-point scale that the odds of a bottle earning a place on, say, Wine.comís listing of Ď90+ Rated Wines Under $20í have increased immeasurably - in part because Wine.com, among other retailers, has joined the ranks of those scoring wines."

"Every day I have people come in the store," said Larry Leventhal, a manager of First Avenue Vintner in Manhattan, "and they tell me they're not interested in hearing about any wine unless Parker gave it at least a 90."

Thus to promote a wine you keep searching for the score needed or as reported; "Who needs Parker when you can make up your own numbers?" said Michael De Loach, vice president of the Hook and Ladder winery in Sonoma County in California. "If Parker or Spectator donít give you a high enough score, you can make up your own."

A few years ago an Australian wine merchants list of 365 wines tallied to the average score of 91+. Sure you should try to pick the best to sell but this type of rating across all price points is hard to achieve and hard to believe.

It seems a large number of wines being reviewed are being placed in the 90 and over bracket. As well, so powerful is the move to point wines out of 100 that it is risky for any reviewer to use a different scoring system. Where to from here?

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