Do you follow the gospel of the vinistry? Do you buy according to the good book? In the wine aisle do you look to ratings to make your selection, trusting the good word of the vinistry of Parker, or Spectator, or do you evaluate and make choices on your own?
Blindly following the vinistries of wine critics is as ludicrous as blindly following a cult leader’s claim that salvation will come from aliens, comets, or any combination of the two. It is appalling how people who practice critical thinking in every facet of their life will blindly purchase a bottle because it has been awarded an arbitrary point value. Perfectly rational people become glazed-eyed cult followers the moment they hit the wine department. It’s as though shelf talkers possess the uncanny ability to eliminate free will.
A wine can be good, and you can not like it. You don’t assume that because one person finds comfort in the words of a baptist minister that you will too, so why assume the same of wines?
All I’m asking for is a little evaluation in the wine department. First step – acknowledge your tastes. If you really only like white wine a 100 point Syrah will still be red wine. If you have never found a Pinot that you liked, chances are the next 98 point release isn’t going to do much for you.
The one group of wine drinkers whom I’ve seen embrace their tastes are the sweet wine drinkers. Most sweet wine fans have tried enough tannic reds to realize that they aren’t going to like them, so they unapologetically pick up a bottle of Riesling to take to a friend’s house for dinner. Bravo! Wine is a beverage, not a measure of sophistication. Drink what you like and you’ll enjoy it more.
After you have acknowledged your tastes make an effort to figure out which publication has given high ratings to wines that you really enjoy. If you see a trend – go with it. It may not be as clear cut as you always like 90 + point wines from one mag or another – you could find that you love Robert Parker recommended whites, Wine Spectator recommended Pinots, and Steven Tanzer’s recommendations in Cabernets. Yes, it will require some effort on your part, but it is really the only way to glean any valuable information from ratings.
So now it’s up to you – take your advise from a piece of paper or drink more wine, learn what you like and trust your instincts. Seems like an easy choice to me.