Thursday, 3 January 2019

Ever wondered if you should trust wine ratings? Here are the answers.

2018 wines
Wine ratings can be very confusing.  It’s like comparing the Michelin Guide for hotels vs Trip Advisor – one is offering you ‘official’ ratings and reviews and the other, user ratings and reviews. 

The problem now is how much time do you have to spend to cross reference and compare, remembering that the Michelin Guide’s 5* ratings are usually carefully considered against a lot of different factors, and some top ratings on Trip Advisor don’t have anything like the same level of detail, and may be giving a 5 out of 5 rating to a B & B.  The only thing that works is to set your filters carefully on Trip Advisor and then compare.  Then they’re both excellent.

I know, I shifted off topic at high speed, so let’s go back to wine.  Wine ratings can also be extremely confusing.  Firstly you have the most well known Wine Critics, three of whom I have listed below:

Robert Parker – probably the most famous of all although he has now retired.  Robert Parker founded The Wine Advocate, a bi-weekly wine newsletter, and invented the 100 point scale www.robertparker.com

Jancis Robinson – the most famous British wine critic and Master of Wine who writes a weekly column for The Financial Times and whose ratings can be found on the Pro version of Wine Searcher www.jancisrobinson.com

James Suckling – with 30 years experience James Suckling now offers wine masterclasses and you can subscribe to all the information on his website at www.jamessuckling.com

When writing about a well known wine these three, long with Jeff Leve www.thewinecellarinsider.com and www.winemag.com – the online magazine of Wine Enthusiast are incredibly useful if you want to know what the experts think.  If you want to be able to see all the ratings from the experts, not just one of them, use the Pro version of www.winesearcher.com which I find incredibly useful.  You can, of course, subscribe to each individually but this can be very costly.

User Ratings….ok, so on to the Trip Advisor of the wine world, but of course there isn’t just one place to find them.  The best is www.vivino.com which I’ve written about before and this is the one I use the most.

Most importantly go for the ratings where there are hundreds of ratings together, not just a few.  Many Vivino writers rate a lot of wines, and where you find 800 giving a wine 4.2 out of 5 you can be pretty sure it’s a decent wine.  But check on Wine-searcher as well, there’s nothing like cross referencing.

Most wine websites give you reviews, particularly the supermarkets, but again I would double check on the Vivino app for a decent number of user ratings.

It’s hard to keep up, and in the end it’s about what you enjoy drinking, not what the experts tell you to drink, however, when offered a Chateau Latour just go for it.  Some wines are an experience not to be turned down.

Finally – I’m currently testing 3 new wine apps – I’ll be back shortly…… Find me in the meantime on Instagram at Glamoursleuth.