The Trouble With Wine Scores

Longtime readers of The Grape Geeks know how I feel about “professional” wine reviewers and their subsequent wine scores, but I recently had the pleasure of hearing Doug Frost, one of only four individuals in the world to simultaneously hold the Master of Wine and Master Sommelier titles, speak at the annual Wine Bloggers Conference and something he said really stood out to me.

During his keynote address to a room full of wine writers, the no-nonsense Frost stated that “we all like different things, as we damn well should.”

This resonated with me because yeah, just because I’m a huge fan of teeth-shattering California Cabernet Sauvignons doesn’t mean that I need to go and award a bogus 100 point score to them, especially when I’d never, ever even give close to an 80 point score to any Pinot Noir (a varietal my palate really, really seems to hate). A scoring system will always be arbitrary and ultimately unfair, because my taste buds will never perfectly match up with anyone elses.

I have a friend who will only drink unoaked Chardonnay. She’s tried all types of wines, from the highest of the high end to the lowest of the low, but as long as it’s a stainless steel fermented Chard, she loves it — indiscriminately. One of my favorite wines of the moment is the single vineyard Tournahu from Mending Wall, a huge, lush, fruity, velvety, and highly tannic Cab. It’s a stellar wine (one of the very best I have ever had in my life), but it (and its $125.00 price tag) would be completely wasted on her.

Our individual palates are extremely personal things, and you should never rely on one person’s review, score, or recommendation when deciding which wine to purchase or invest in. Taste as much as you can, as frequently as you can, and try wine of every varietal, in every price point, and from every region of the world.

The old adage goes that “the more you know, the more you realize what you don’t know,” an no truer words have been spoken when it comes to wine. It doesn’t matter if you’re a decades-old connoisseur or you’re just starting out in the world of wine, my advice remains the same: try, try, and try again.

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