Wine Off the Charts

Imbibe presents a thoughtful take on the hoary old topic of wine ratings in its November/December issue.

The controversy surrounding how numbers are assigned to wines goes back to Genesis, at least.

This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. In his vineyard, he produced a pinot noir. Although Noah’s wine was of surpassing fineness, it was given 81 out of 100 possible marks by a soothsayer of the Moabites. This mark enraged Noah, who cursed the soothsayer in the name of the Lord, saying, you present as objective what is clearly subjective, and therefore disrespect the subtlety of the vintage and bring down fire from the heavens upon your head, and the heads of your little ones. And the Lord smote the soothsayer and his little ones with an all-consuming fire, and also their fields, and their goats, and their womenfolk, and Noah rejoiced.

And so on. What the Imbibe piece does well is connect the vexing scores with sales—and, more interestingly, with the way that winemakers tailor their vintages to appeal very specifically to the known prejudices of the number makers.

The antidote? The piece sensibly suggests that well-informed
winemakers and sommeliers are the answer. And, on a happy note, it even points out that such well-informed (sometimes even free-thinking!) individuals are becoming more numerous these days.

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