Scores have once again become a big deal in the wine world. Over the last month or so, a well-known independent winery has started a drive to end scores, there has been an on-line debate about the efficacy of scores, and anti-score sentiment has popped up in the oddest places.
This is intriguing for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it’s usually only cranks like the Wine Curmudgeon who take on the scoring system, since it’s about as tilting at windmills as the wine business gets. For another, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for what has been happening. Why is this going on now?
A few thoughts about why scores are again under scrutiny after the jump:
? How wine is judged: My DrinkLocalWine.com cohort Dave McIntyre has a nicely done description of wine competitions and wine judging in a recent Washington Post column: "For consumers, competition medals can serve as recommendations from a group of wine professionals to try a particular wine, similar to an inside tip from a friend or trusted wine columnist." It's one of the best discussions I've seen about how judging is done, warts and all, and the bit about judges "blitzing through" wines instead of enjoying them is spot on.
? Regulating booze ads: The Federal Trade Commission will study the effectiveness of voluntary guidelines followed by companies that market alcohol, with an eye on advertising in social media — which mostly didn't exist the last time the FTC looked at the issue. The New York Times reports that a key to the current system of self-regulation is that wine, beer, and spirits ads should run only in media outlets which can certify that 70 percent of their viewers or readers are 21 or older. Which, for social media, is an almost irrelevant requirement. How do you certify that 70 percent of your Twitter feed is of drinking age?
? Canadian critic rips wine scores: And good for him. Bill Zacharkiw, in a piece in the Montreal Gazette about a wine promotion run by the provincial liquor monopoly, writes this: "I have long contended that these scores are meaningless, feigning precision for what is essentially a qualitative, emotionally based value judgment. … I will stop now because the subject drives me absolutely nuts." That's a feeling that the Wine Curmudgeon knows all to well when it comes to scores.