What’s the role of wine ratings and critics?
You’ve seen them in advertisements, stuck on bottles and printed on signs. “91 points,” “Gold Medal,” or something similar. What are they and why should you care?
In theory, ratings exist to provide an objective measurement of a wine. In real life, it’s just a subjective view of how one person felt about one wine at one specific time. Just as one movie reviewer loves a movie and another pans it; a bottle of wine can elicit different opinions among different people. Think of a rating as one piece I helping you select a wine to buy.
More important than the rating is the tasting note that goes alongside it. This tells you more about how the wine will taste; flavors, body weight, food pairings, etc. Now you have a fuller picture about how this reviewer felt about the wine.
But most important of all is your own experience. Have you ever hated a movie that got great reviews? Or loved one that didn’t? We’ll always have plenty of wines open for you to try. Don’t get hung up on scores…the reality is that no one would notice a difference between an 88 and a 90-point wine when you’re having it with dinner.
Finally, a few words about ratings at Bridgewater. We’ll use ratings and reviews from four primary sources:
- Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast. These are the two largest general-interest wine magazines and have been publishing for almost 40 years.
- The Wine Advocate. Founded and made famous by Robert Parker, it now has a stable of writers, with Robert Parker semi-retired.
- Jeb Dunnuck. A long-time reviewer for the Wine Advocate, Jeb launched his own subscription-based site last year.
- Vinous. Founded by Antonio Galloni after leaving the Wine Advocate, Vinous now has a stable of accomplished critics (many of whom originally had their own sites). Each critic has their own area of the wine world that they cover.
When we use a rating, we will always include the source of the score. We’ll always include a tasting note along with it, and we’ll always include the vintage that was scored, so you know you’re buying the proper wine.