Falling Prey to Wine Rating Peer Pressure

Try as we must, even as adult wine lovers we succumb to peer pressure. We like to think that peer pressure is something we outgrow. As parents we warn our teenagers how this “group think” can make them do something really stupid.

My favorite response to “but everyone at my school (fill in the blank)” is quite often, “If everyone decided to jump off a bridge would you have to do it too?” Knowing the oldest of our two teens, he probably would — but that’s because he’s fearless. A good trait for entrepreneurs, but not so much when it comes to daredevil stunts.

When men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice
I think she’ll know.

But do we really ever outgrow it? No, we just call it something else. “Social norming theory” and “trendy” are some of the more positive descriptors, “herd mentality” and “bandwagon” some of the less so.

Peer pressure can be positive, in that it can open up a world of new experiences and tastes. When I first met Joe, I hated the music he liked. To me it sounded harsh, thrashing, angry, defiant and way too “in your face.” Which is, of course, why he liked it. But the more I listened and understood the message, rather than simply listening to the voices, I began to appreciate the music.

Let’s Get Mikey!

Remember the old cereal commercial? Where two kids wouldn’t try the “healthy” cereal, so they put their younger brother up to it first? One older brother says to the other, “He won’t eat it, he hates everything!” And then when Mikey starts eating, his brothers know it must be good!

But suppose after Mikey decided he liked it, something someone else said made him change his mind.

During our wine-centric travels recently, I noted something that surprised me. The group was discussing wineries, winemakers and various styles of wine. The name of a winery came up, and one of our group said, “I really liked (particular wine).” Another, more seasoned veteran said something like, “Oh, I found that to be very pedestrian. I really didn’t care for that at all.” Suddenly the former advocate started back-pedaling. “Well, I didn’t think it was all that good. Not in comparison to (other highly-rated wine).” And I thought to myself, You’re kidding, right? Someone tells you that she doesn’t like what you like, and you suddenly recant?

Maybe it wasn’t as it seemed. The guy recanting wasn’t necessarily falling prey to peer pressure. Maybe he was fully confident in his ability to judge wines. Perhaps he just prefers harmony to dissonance. But being one who rarely raises the white flag immediately, it was a bit hard to fathom the sudden surrender.

But what appeared on the face of things, was that because a peer didn’t care for the wine he liked, our wine friend decided that perhaps he didn’t like it as well either.

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you’re going to fall
Tell ’em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Call Alice
When she was just small…

He Likes It!

This is one of the reasons we at Another Wine Blog don’t rate wines and very rarely tell you about the wines we don’t like. We don’t give points, or grades, or stars, or thumbs up or down. While we do pay attention to Robert Parker, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator and Stephen Tanzer, we figure most other ratings are pretty subjective. And we figure you have enough numbers and letters to think about without our adding to the mix. Besides, if we gave you a description of the wine that sounded like we liked it, but then gave it an average score, human nature says you’re going to look at the rating and ignore the rest. So we don’t tell you what you shouldn’t drink. I mean, seriously, we’re not your parents.

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen’s “off with her head!”
Remember what the dormouse said:
“Feed your head
Feed your head
Feed your head” – *White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane

But we can give you this advice about wine. If you find something you like, by all means drink it. Do not give up something you truly enjoy just because someone else doesn’t like it. The whole reason we got into this gig is because too many people believe that you have to know a lot about wine before you drink it. Or that some secret club is trying to keep itself exclusive, by pretending only those who have studied it should tell those who haven’t what is good. That’s just nonsense.

So be bold. Be adventurous. Trust your own tastes. And don’t let anyone make you think something you like isn’t really good. It’s your money and your palate! Embrace it!


The WineWonkette

*With apologies to Jefferson Airplane for using the verses of White Rabbit out of order.

Posted in Featured, Posts, Rant

Amy Corron Power View posts by Amy Corron Power

A licensed attorney, Amy is a wine-lover, foodie, photographer, political junkie and award-winning author who writes about Wine, Food, Beer & Spirits. As Managing Editor & Tasting Director for Another Wine Blog, she travels all over the world's wine regions to share her experiences with her readers and legions of twitter, Instagram and Facebook friends and fans. Amy holds certifications through the International Sommelier Guild, and is also certified, with honors, as a California Wine Appellation Specialist (CWAS). She is a member of the Guild of Sommeliers, The Wine & Food Foundation of Texas and regularly attends Houston Sommelier Association events. Amy is also a contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books, and was most recently published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Power of Gratitude.
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