Wine Reviewer – Influential Wine Critic
A wine critic is someone who reviews wine and describes it both with a taste note, a numerical assessment, or a blend of both. Their reviews, usually found in magazines, papers, websites, books, or in promotional materials for wine, are used by potential customers in the process of determining whether or not to purchase wine. They are often the ones who first encounter a wine that interests them and inspires them to try it themselves. It can be an intimidating task to select a bottle of wine to drink at a celebration, and many people find it helpful to have a “friend” or colleague who has already tried wines they like and can offer advice on which ones to try.
Because most wine critics use a scorecard system, the scores they assign to different vintages are meant to serve as guides to consumers in selecting which wine to buy based on their personal taste and which to avoid based on their score. However, critics also have other objectives in providing information about wine. Some critics want to encourage consumers to taste a variety of wines, while others want to discourage drinking alcoholic beverages altogether.
Different wine critics will assign varying levels of importance to different characteristics of a wine’s aroma, its flavor, its texture, its bouquet, its color, and many other factors. Some wine critics may rate each characteristic in order from the most desirable (for example, the best tasting wine) to the least desirable (for example, an inexpensive wine that contains chemicals that contribute to cancer). Others may assign a score depending on the amount of acidity or tannin in a wine, for example. There are also those who do not believe in scoring a wine’s level of alcohol concentration because they feel that the degree of alcohol in a drink does not have a direct bearing on its quality and therefore cannot effectively influence the rating one receives. But these wine critics who believe in a scoring system may come to a different conclusion if they learned that wine critics often assign ratings according to a number system based on these very factors.
There is another school of thought within the wine industry about the effects of wine tasting on the overall quality of a wine. There are those who argue that wine tasting exposes the taster’s palate to too much acid in order to make it acidic and unfriendly to the palette. This “taste shock” can change the wine drinker’s perception of taste and, in turn, affect the taster’s buying behavior. Therefore, some believe that a scoring system based on the sensory experience of the taster should be adopted. Under this scoring system, wine reviews would be better explained by a series of questions based on the perceived acidity or tartness of certain wines. Some people are naturally more acid resistant than others, so it might not be a bad idea to ask them to take the test.
The second issue that critics raise is the issue of context. Sometimes, the context in which a review is written makes a difference in its relevance. In other words, what the reviewer believes to be the most important feature in a wine may not actually be the most important factor in others’ minds. In this regard, wine critics must be careful to provide information in reviews that are relevant to all consumers, and that do not assign values to the reviewer’s own opinion. This is important because, as mentioned above, some people are naturally more acid resistant than others.
One possible solution to this problem would be for critics to perform a blind tasting. Although this sounds like an unusual approach for the average consumer, in practice it has proven effective. When blind tasting, the tasters are asked to evaluate the wines without knowledge of their true rating. Then, after receiving feedback, they are able to evaluate their rating according to the blind tasting results. Blind tasting and its associated issues can have a strong influence on wine consumers, thus making the importance of a good wine critic very much clear.