Friday, March 13, 2009

Pha-Pha-Phooey! The Problem with Wine Ratings...

Shout out to Howard, one of my heroes...

Ah, wine ratings, they make the whole wine world go round. Or do they?

There is no denying the power and influence of the wine press on the drinking habits of the populus. The Honorable Chris Cree tells us that there was once a time when wine merchants tasted and bought what they liked, and didn't have to purchase a palate of shlock to get a case of something highly regarded. Must have been before I was born. I recall a distributor telling me that unfortunately, in order to have the "privilige" of purchasing some fairly well regarded Burgundies, I would need to order 10 cases of a $100 per bottle California Cabernet that is quite honestly, pedestrian at best. I wonder if that hard working Burgundian farmer knows that is the way the game is played in NJ?

But back to the numbers. No doubt that if one lived in a non-cosmopolitan area where pickins are slim, a guide to what is good in wine can be helpful. I also can appreciate Robert Parker's palate. While very different from my own, his is consistently accurate in the sense that the wines he loves have a common thread and if you like the style, he's an excellent barometer. My problem lies with wine merchants who are either inexperienced, under-educated or just flat out too damn lazy to get out there and decide for themselves. When did wine shops just decide to hang a WS 94 on the shelf and sell based solely on that, having never tasted the wine at all? When and in what other business can you know nothing at all about the product you sell? How about that same wine that got 94 points in the previous example the following year gets 89? Let's see how easy it is to sell it now! Unless we're talking about Bordeaux en primeur, the price ain't going down. Why would the customer buy it for the same price or more when it's obviously an inferior product to the previous vintage? Or maybe it's not inferior but just different. Another rant on that subject at a later date...

Folks, wine is not a sport. It never has been and it never should be. We just don't keep score. Can you imagine an art conversation like, "Well, Sherman, the Mona Lisa is clearly a 99 pointer while Whistler's Mother is merely just a 93!" Crazy, right? Wine is truly an agricultural product that is an art form with no equal on earth. It is a beverage that rightfully so, is the compliment to a meal that offers the person enjoying it to fine tune and elevate the food and the wine through the symbiotic pairing. Wine can lift your spirits and it can transcend your mood. My favorite nights to open a great bottle are never holidays, birthdays or special occasions. I much prefer to decide to prepare something simple but flavorful on a Tuesday, open one singular great bottle, and let that and the food be the "Starlet Johanssen" of the evening. Sexy, right?

Please leave the point scoring to LeBron and leave the artistry to the artisans. Thanks.

JCB the 4th

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