Do Wine Points Matter? Yes . . .
- Helps Lesser Knowns. As the wine industry experiences the trend of consolidation of wineries as part of "uber-brands" and large, well-financed holding companies, we all run the risk of being subject to the almighty marketing dollar. Ratings help those wineries who are not as large, well-established or with deep pockets to secure distribution and marketing reach to the consumer.
- Helps Consumers. For those who are not wine enthusiasts and painstakingly study and taste wine extensively, points are a way to help consumers navigate the myriad of varietals, brands, regions and price points. Points provide guidance and can instill confidence in consumers - helping drive demand.
- Helps the Trade. As a small retailer and wine bar, like consumers, we too face a plethora of choice in what wines to purchase. While we like to think our team has sophisticated palates and a deep understanding of what our consumers will enjoy, we can only stock so many wines and using established point ratings from leading wine critics helps to simplify our operational challenge.
Do Wine Points Matter? No . . .
- Homogenizes Differences Among Wine. Any point rating scale inherently buries or internalizes what are really material differences among wines (e.g. varietal, style, geography, "terroir", etc.) How does a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand really compare to a Chianti from Italy?
- Puts Too Much Power/Influence in a Few. Point ratings are often the opinion of a single critic. Given the diversity in peoples' collective palates, this means that many will not be well served by another's singular point of view.
- Creates Irregular Patterns in Demand. Once a wine receives a positive rating from a prominent critic, it will spike demand for that wine. Great for a particular wine maker who receives a 90+ point score (and retailers who are fortunate enough to have access to that product). So the 92 point Napa Cab sells quickly often at premium prices, while the 89 point Napa Cab, which to many would be just as good or even better, languishes on the shelves even at discounted prices.
We will be tasting eight (8) wines blind - four rated 88 points and four rated 92 points to see if we can assess the differences. Will post the results later.