Guilty; As Charged. Should I Blame Parker?
Perhaps that came from growing up in a small town whose newspaper had a mediocre “movie reviewer”. Because if “Reviewer Dave” loved it, it tended to be middle-of-the-road crap. And if he hated it; I loved it. So I prefer to ignore movie reviews and draw my own conclusions.
And for that I’ve always considered myself more highly evolved.
But I have a confession to make: I am influenced by the rating systems of Parker et al. If I’m shopping for wines I have a really hard time paying over a certain price for wines scored under 90 points. Of course that price point tends to move depending on the size of my bank account at the time. When times are tough the price point is lower. When times are great; it goes up.
But here’s the weird thing. If I’m in one of my favorite wine bars and it is recommended by a trusted sommelier I can enjoy and recommend a wine that the heavy hitters have ranked in the solid “B average” numbers.
Why does this matter? Because there are a number of wines I’ve really enjoyed and had no problem paying the wine bar mark up because I had no idea how they were ranked.
Last night Joe and I were tasting a sample someone had sent us. I really liked it. Joe liked it but wasn’t as convinced that we should review it. Because we tend to review only the wines we unanimously find “special” which can mean a great value or a fabulous tasting wine at any price.
Today I opened up my latest copy of one of the Big 3 to find the same wine with a decent score. So I have an even greater reason to review it because some other dude validated my own perception.
That’s all well and good if I taste before I see the score. Then I have a pretty valid and unbiased review. But it also leaves out a lot of good wine I might miss if I check the score first. I’m not quite to the point where I think scores don’t matter. But I think its high time that I adhere to the same logic I use for not looking at price before I taste a sample.
We already have a number of influences that can affect our perception of a wine. Why allow Robert Parker to tell us what we like before we’ve even tasted it?