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Comments & Reviews

March 9, 2007 | drdebs

Great story, Ryan. I've had a piece in the drafts folder on just these issues for a few weeks now. I'll post it next week with links to your story. Hopefully this post of yours will be the kick off of some good discussion about some important issues.

March 9, 2007 | Ryan Fujiu

Thanks Debs, I can't wait to read your story. I'm definitely interested in what others think about these issues...

March 9, 2007 | drdebs

Tom's already picked it up at Fermentation--let the conversation begin!

March 9, 2007 | tom merle

We at The Wine Coop/CitizenWine.us wholeheartedly agree with you. It is the people who buy the wine and their opinions don't always coincide with the "experts" whose palates are admitedly more refined. The opinions of the cognoscenti do and should carry weight, but they oftentimes fail to provide guidance for those in the middle of bell curve.

One need only look at the success of Yelp to see that a bottoms-up approach to assessment has great value.

In an attempt to generate viewpoints from those whose interest stems from making the regular meal more pleasureful by adding an appealing wine, we are launching a series of consumer blind tastings at Citizen Space in SF.

Using a five star system, with half stars allowed, we sum the total, sometimes dropping out the highest and lowest scores, and arrive at the arithmatic average. Both absolute and QPR scores are given. We also award medals: Double Gold: 41/2 stars, Gold: 4 stars; Silver: 3 stars; bronze: 2 stars.

I hope you, Ben and others who read your blog will join us this Monday night as we rate and rank some 20 different Premium Cask Wines, from Blackbox to Bandit to Delicato (we will feed the findings into the ~Wine Blogging Wednesday~ network).

We'll follow this inaugural event with a vinous critique of Mendo wines.

More info can be found at www.wine.coop and clicking on tne ~Events/News~ button. Another page describes the scoring system.

Au revoir,


March 9, 2007 | Sagi Solomon

Hi Ryan. Great post. I completely agree. We are seeing a revolution in the wine industry - a revolution led by public opinion. I don't see the popular wine critics going away, but I do see their influence being diluted by the communities. One problem that we have to resolve though is that consumers are used to reading “technical” reviews like those in Enthusiast or Spectator, which leads them to believe that all reviews have to read like that. We (OpenBottles) are trying to correct that misconception by encouraging people to talk about their personal experience (we allow for more technical reviews as well). As more people become comfortable with sharing their opinions, we will have more information by which to judge whether a wine is “good” or not. Pretty soon, the wine industry will have to pay attention.

March 12, 2007 | Ryan Fujiu

@ Sagi: Agreed, that is why I wanted to include you guys in the post. Openbottles is a great resource and is a "free" environment for people to share their thoughts on wine without being afraid of someone looking down on them. We need more websites like yours that encourages people with less experience to talk about their wine; besides, talking about wine is the best way to learn about it.

@ epicurus: That sounds like a great event, anyone who is interested should go and check it out.

March 13, 2007 | thomas matthews

I don't see why these are either/or positions. We learn about wine the way we learn about any other subject. At school, for example, you learn from your professors (the "critics"), and also from your interaction with other students (the "public opinion"). At Wine Spectator, we urge our readers to develop their own palates, but we believe that our tasters can facilitate that process, through their knowledge and experience. We are all wine lovers; the goal is to share the passion and help each other learn more and drink better.

Thomas Matthews
Executive editor
Wine Spectator

March 13, 2007 | Ryan Fujiu

@Thomas: Thanks for your insightful comments. I don't think anyone has called your magazine's love and passion for wine into question. Additionally, I'm not trying to place the full brunt of the blame on wine critics. Its just as much (if not more) of the publics fault to blindly follow scores. However, I do disagree with your school analogy though. Most of the subjects taught in school are objective, math science, history, economics, etc... While perception of wine is subjective. In school, another students opinion on Newton's theory of relativity doesn't mean anything. You can't have an opinion about laws of nature, thats why they are called laws. But anyone can have an opinion about wine. Some might be better than others, but thats also a subjective opinion.

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