SigMT Vol12 Iss 4

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Text by Gene Betz RAMBLING VINES WHAT'S IN A RATING The Makings of a Savvy Wine Buyer What's in a rating? If you drink wine on a regular basis, undoubtedly, you've been introduced to reviews and ratings from sources like Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, e Wine Advocate (Robert Parker) and others. ere are dozens of these agencies and individuals who regularly taste and review wines so that we (the people) can make more informed decisions when buying wines. So, what are we to make of all these reviews? A good friend of mine, and local wine distributor representative, calls people who choose wines solely on ratings, "score whores". Probably not the most politically correct label, but it does drive the narrative of my article especially if ratings are the only source you use for selecting wines (and, yes, this includes purveyors, such as myself ). What I have learned over the years is that raters have their own individual palates and you won't always (or possibly ever) agree with them. I remember when we brought a particularly good Sebastiani Merlot into the shop and posted the ratings online, so our customers had access to information on the vintage. We thoroughly enjoyed it ourselves and had no problem selling case aer case. Wine Advocate gave this particular vintage a 90+ and Wine Spectator gave it a 93. (e wine rating system is a 100-point scale that has become the benchmark of quality in the wine industry. Anything in the 90s from raters is considered a great wine.) We agreed with these reviews, having tasted and evaluated it ourselves. However, Wine Enthusiast gave this bole a rating of 73, if I remember correctly. at's extremely low and simply didn't match what others were saying or how we felt about it. Sebastiani felt that single low rating might have been the result of a bad bole, so they provided the Wine Enthusiast panel a fresh bole to try. Again, the raters were adamant: this second bole was every bit as poor as the first and they stood by their decision. Clearly, their opinions were in contrast with what other raters had experienced. So, who is correct and how would you decide based on these totally different reviews? Luckily for us, our clients were able to dismiss the bad review and sample the wine for themselves. Sebastiani Merlot ended up being the hoest selling wine for us that year. Wine ratings may influence your decision, but remember, the ultimate judgment is yours. My suggestion is to try different wines and compare your impressions with those of various raters and see which ones agree with you most oen. Armed with this information, you will soon learn which publications or raters fall in line with your style of palate. We hope this helps you make your decisions a bit easier. It's all a great big learning process, isn't it? Salute! And happy picking from your friends at Vintage Sellers. Your Mens Specialty Apparel Headquarters 411 Central Avenue, Great Falls 406-761-5010 411 Central Avenue, Great Falls FIND US ON FACEBOOK Styling Montanan's for 124 Years Providing brands like Enro • S. Cohen • Neil M Shoes SiG MT 21 Gourmet & International Foods 403 Central Avenue Great Falls, MT 406.452.6724 Taste Our Expanded Oil & Vinegar Line Pre-made take-n-go: Sandwiches, Mason Jar Salads & Meals Wine Beer Spirits

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