I’ve been drinking wine (good and bad) for over fifty years now and I’ve written and read more than my share of wine reviews. Lately I’ve become a bit disenchanted with both the content of the reviews and the process of writing them. It seems to me that many of the reviews we see today are written to impress the reader with the reviewers knowledge of wine and to help the winemaker/distributor sell the specifically reviewed wine Over the years I must confess my guilt in trying to help many of the Naked Wine Winemakers sell out their inventory as I really like their innovative offerings . So lets be clear, my motives were purely personal as I wanted them to move on to their next great wine so I could enjoy it and perhaps grab a few bottles for my own cellar before they disappeared, never to be seen again.
To the point of this post – shouldn’t the purpose of a published review be solely to help a reader decide if the wine suits their particular needs and desires when they contemplate buying a bottle or case of wine? For example, I don’t believe that listing a catalogue of esoteric aromas or flavors does anything for the average wine consumer except make them feel less worthy because they simply can’t pick out the “essence of eucalyptus” the “Mexican Cocoa” or the “Madagascar Vanilla Bean” buried in the myriad of other descriptor contained in a review. Frankly to me Vanilla is Vanilla, Cocoa is Cocoa and I don’t have a clue what an essence of anything really means. It should be sufficient for a wine review to tell the reader whether the reviewer liked the wine, its origin, who made it, what it cost, what (very) basic aroma/flavor profile the review found,whether the wine is ready to drink or could benefit with a bit more aging to be its best, what food types it enhances and whether it was a good value for the price. Does it really matter if the color is “red” or “Ruby with a hit of Brick around the edges”? I don’t think the wine will taste any better regardless. It is important that a review let us know about acidity, sweetness and tannins as that information really helps a reader make buying decisions that favor their own particular tastes. Unless the reader is a winemaker, or has a degree in enology going beyond that much more information does not help in a consumers understanding of the wine.
If you go to the “Wine Reviews” section of this Blog, you will find reviews of a lot of different wines. What you really get is a copy of my tasting notes and comments about a wine which I write for myself and my own use in helping me remember a wines characteristics so I can keep the hundreds of different wines and vintages straight as I pull them from my cellar or make a decision to add a new vintage of an old favorite. In this regard some significant detail is important, but not as a guide for others. So the question I ponder as I write this post – should I continue to post my notes in the wine review reviews section of this blog, stop publishing them at all, or try to simplify them down so that they actually help consumers make good wine buying decision for themselves? I don’t have an answer yet, but I wanted to let my readers know that I am thinking about the subject and ask you all to think about what helps you and what you would like from a review. Any feedback is greatly appreciated>
Thank you for inviting us to comment about your reviews, Robert. I appreciate the useful and succinct format, where you list the essentials, followed by your notes. All of the above makes your reviews delightful to read. Admittedly, I have a long way to go before my nose and tastebuds discern multiple berries, grasses or cocoa in a wine, but knowing they are there, when I try one of your reviewed wines might help me detect them.
Sadly, as I’ve discovered in the last year, I seem to be losing some of the finer nerve endings in my tastebuds, a terrible thing for a cook, who loves a fragrant wine and subtle flavors in food, I can tell you.
Very well stated, Robert. I feel more and more inadequate when trying to write a review. I either like a wine or I don’t. I have to use my not so vivid imagination to find the cherry, cocoa, or berries. I like to read reviews that give some description because it helps me to learn more about the wine. But, the long overly wordy reviews, I just skip over. I appreciate the expanded knowledge of the reviewer, but there is a place for it. o me, and I feel, to many others, it is intimidating. As always, I enjoy and appreciate your views.
Robert, I was not referring to your excellent reviews. I love the consistency and organization in the way you are doing it on this site—it is your site to do as you please 🙂
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