Do Scores Matter?
Do wine scores really matter? Is that 98 point Cab Sauv from Napa really THAT good...maybe..maybe not.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone is trying to sell me a bottle of wine and they instantly reference the point score the bottle received from a major wine publication or critic.
I know I'll probably anger a few people reading this but hey its my opinion. This has long been a debate among Somms. On one side, points do give you a reference point on where that wine stands compared to others. But for me, points at the end of the day, are subjective. It all depends on what that reviewer likes and doesn't like. As non-biased as they try to be...you can't really help what your palate enjoys and doesn't.
So how do you buy wine if you usually look at wine scores? This is where I'll challenge you. Walking into a wine shop and looking at the hundreds of selections you can choose from may seem like a gamble on choosing one you'll enjoy. But it doesn't have to be that way. This is where you should challenge yourself on understanding your own palate. What's the point of learning all the wine lingo (tannins, acidity, etc) if you don't put it to practice. Many wine shops host free tastings or sampling. Take advantage of that. Go there and taste all the wines offered BLIND! Don't look at the wine before you taste. Tell them not to show you the wine and turn away as they pour. Have some fun! This is still one of the most exciting things I do every week when I taste. Focus on what you like about it and what you don't like about it. Is it too bold? Is it too soft? Too fruity? Too earthy? This practice really puts your palate on overdrive cause your consciously evaluating every part of the wine. After doing this a few times, you'll start to put together a comprehensive template of what you enjoy and do not enjoy, essentially creating your own reference guide. You can then use this guide when buying wine or even relaying what you've learned about your personal likes/dislikes to the Sommelier when you're out to eat.