I’m really liking the things I’m reading from Madeline Puckette at winefolly.com. Although she’s just pulled one of my favorite California regions out of obscurity into the ‘QPR’ limelight! Today she posted one about ratings and what they mean to you. I really like (and generally echo) everything she says here, but I usually expand on #1. Not only do different critics have different sensibilities and opinions, so do you the drinker.
One thing I came to learn as I followed along with the ratings game was I don’t like what Robert Parker does. I’m not trying to say that Mr Parker is wrong, bad, or deficient. I am saying that we don’t derive pleasure from the exact same wines. Madeline’s post lays out some of why that is, but it comes down to I’m not Robert Parker. My palate is different than his, tastes different things, and has different reactions. All of which relates to whether or not I like it.
He’s the guy who came up with the scale, and good, bad, indifferent, he’s said that his ratings are partially subjective. It’s not just ‘best in show’ based on how well it shows characteristics of the varietal but how much he enjoys it. So it’s only natural that opinions differ. And yes, I’ve enjoyed wines that he’s rated highly, nothing is absolute when it comes to taste.
Bottom line, read Madeline’s post on using ratings, understand where and how the different critics ratings that you’ll see in the store come from, and most importantly, figure out what you like and how to identify that again. If you’re looking to build technique to help your tasting, Madeline wrote a really good article about that too. Check it out!
How do you use ratings when your looking to find new wines?