Monday, February 23, 2015

Wine Tip of the Week - Go Your Own Way and Rise Up Against Wine Ratings!

So tell me, what kind of hamburger do you like?  WHAT??? I want to rise up against oppressive wine ratings systems, not chat about burgers! False Advertising!!!  Well, yes sort of - but hey you are reading, right???  Trust me, keep going a little more and it may start to make sense - and you may just rise up against wine rating systems after all!

I first thought of this topic for a blog post during a trip to a burger restaurant this past weekend. Spoiler alter - it was BLT (Burger Laurent Tourondel) at the Mirage in Las Vegas.  They have a bunch of different types of burgers, and I was very hungry and having a tough time choosing. My leading contenders were these three beauties:

  • Shaft’s BlueShaft’s Blue Vein Cheese, Balsamic Caramelized Onion, Mushrooms
  • Cowboy BurgerBBQ Chipotle, Tobacco Onions, Lettuce, Tomato, Bacon, Pepper Jack
  • Lamb TandooriColorado Lamb, Mint-Cilantro Yogurt Sauce, Mediterranean Salsa

While struggling with my decision (and even considered adding their Falafel burger to the list...I looove a good Falafel) - I jokingly found myself wishing there was something that could help me make my decision ...perhaps a burger 90 point rating system??? 
What a silly concept - how could there ever be a burger rating system? If I were to tell you that you should try a burger at BLT or any other restaurant because I rate it 95 points...would you ever order it based on just that information? I know I wouldn't. I would want to know what the scorer's preferences were for their burger. Do they love spicy? Do they hate spicy? How do they stand on fried egg as a condiment? (Just FYI - I am pro fried egg!). Plus, what is being used for comparison - is this a 95 point across all the menu offerings? Are Kobe beef burgers rated right along with regular beef? Then, what about the Falafel? Are meat free burgers judged on the same scale? I do love a good Falafel, but it would not be a fair rating process that puts ground up garbanzo beans head to head against beef from a pampered cow from Kobe, Japan.

When you think about it, wine rating systems make no more sense than a burger rating system. OK, so this wine is 95 points and this wine is 85 points - does that mean you will really like one and loathe the other. Does it mean one is worth big bucks, and the other isn't worth your money? Not at all. Wine ratings are typically based on some common attributes of quality - the presence of faults, acidity level, tannin level, sugar levels to name a few - but ultimately the rating awarded to any wine is definitely influenced by the personal tastes of the reviewer.  Don't believe me? Look up the same wine on Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Advocate, and other professional review sources and see how the scores can differ. 

Hey, I do wine reviews every week, so I do believe there are values in providing opinion along with some characteristics of wines to help you choose what you may want to try, and what you may want to avoid.  But much like you wouldn't choose a burger based solely on a numeric rating, don't choose your wines that way either.  Read about the wine - are the characteristics ones you like in wine? If not, a 97 point score will be meaningless if you are not a fan of say... huge Australian Shiraz like a Penfold's Grange Plus at over $400 a bottle, you don't want to find out your wine tastes are very different from Grange-review guy.  Regardless of the score if it's not your type of wine, you probably won't be impressed.  So, an uprising against wine ratings may not be necessary, but don't get caught up with those labels all over every wine shop that say 90+ point.  That score is just someone's opinion, who may be a fan of the double bacon cheeseburger with Tabasco sauce, while your tastes in burgers (and wine) may be more of a simply prepared Kobe burger, or even Falafel!

Even though I have (gently) encouraged you to rise up against wine ratings I will ask that you please check out my wine reviews. My rating system has what I think is a valuable upgrade to the standard 100 point scale. I break wines down in categories based on price first - and grade them based on what would be a great "Everyday Wine" vs. a great "Splurge Wine."  Use my information as reference...but in the end make sure you Go Your Own Way!

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