Posts Tagged ‘Critics’

The critic.

The critic.

 

Influential critics have long played an important role in our discovery of many of life’s pleasures but are noticeably absent from others. Ardent fans of the movies, theater, literature and other areas of interest often look to familiar and trusted critics for guidance in unearthing new products and adventures as they emerge.

We tend to identify with a critic’s personal preferences and subjective direction on a range of important topics and use these “critiques” as suggestions, rather than point-driven rules, in steering the way to what might be appealing to us.

So why has the wine critic’s role taken on such a different and more rigid path in the appreciation, marketing and consequent production of wine by “awarding” completely objective scores behind a subjective facade?

A critic should be a reliable source of information for those interested, by conveying seasoned personal opinions through a review. But when a point score (without published derivation or computation) is attached, the review assumes the appearance of objectivity but remains couched in the more familiar subjective style.

Certainly there are expert reviewers and writers voicing their experienced personal opinions on what’s new in the market, but have you ever seen a dress with a 96-point rating or a perfume bearing an 85-point score? I doubt it. Yet the opinion makers in these industries do get their fair share of media time and space with detailed descriptions and observations that followers can accept or reject within their own frame of reference.

I guess this all leads to the basic question: “Is the critic’s role one of opinion or judgment?” And it’s often this question, phrased in different ways, that becomes the subject of many discussions I’ve had with others in and out of the wine industry.

 

Read on …

Everyone is a critic!

Everyone is a critic!

 

Twice in the past several months, the wine world has been rocked by news from Robert Parker, the world’s most famous wine critic.

In December, Parker announced that he’d sold a “substantial interest” in the Wine Advocate, the influential magazine he founded in 1978, to a trio of Singapore-based investors—and that he’d relinquished editorial control. In February, one of Parker’s top critics, Antonio Galloni, said that he’d left the publication to start an online enterprise.

Parker, who popularized the 100-point scale for reviewing wine, is nearly 66. So he can’t be faulted for wanting to slow down. But thanks to this pair of stories, oenophiles finally seem ready to admit that wine criticism is changing.

Consumers don’t need—or want—centralized gatekeepers telling them what they should or shouldn’t drink. Consumers still need advisors, of course, but when today’s consumers want information, they’re willing to look past professional critics and instead turn to friends and trusted networks.

With travel, restaurants, movies, and so much else, this trend would hardly be worthy of commentary. TripAdvisor long ago supplanted paper-based guides like Frommer’s.

Yelp is now the holy grail of restaurant reviews, and local blogs are increasingly influential. With movies, opening the local newspaper for commentary no longer makes sense when you can check out dozens of reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

With wine, however, this shift runs counter to so much of what’s sacred. Everything about wine—the bizarre tasting rituals, knowledge of obscure regions and varietals, and identifying good values—is supposed to be handed down from on high. Consumers are supposed to decide what to drink based on the advice of prominent wine critics, not mere amateurs.

 

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I’m mad as heck and I’m not going to take it anymore!

I’ve had it up to here [you can’t see me, but I’m holding my hand up to my forehead] with writers who complain that “wine consumers have little use and perhaps even less tolerance for wine tasting notes.”

That is simply a falsehood. The truth is, wine consumers have little use for (and they may even hate) people who say that wine consumers have little use for wine tasting notes.

Now, the anti-tasting note crowd may retort with the claim that wine consumers have little use for people who disagree with people who say that wine consumers have little use for wine tasting notes. But I disagree. You see, I happen to believe that people who say that wine consumers have little use for wine tasting notes hate people who say that people who say that wine consumers have little use for wine tasting notes are idiots. And nobody likes a hater.

 

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