Over 25.000 tasting notes

One of Norway's largest wine tasting note archives, containing more than 25.000 tasting notes. All tasted by one taster, not a panel, so Norway's most consistent archive as well. To find tasting notes? Search; mywinesandmore "wine name" on google, to find all notes from one property.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Why do people score wines?

So, I'm at it again. One thing that is really strange to me is why people that have little or only some experience, score wines, in public. When I started tasting and enjoying wines, I never wrote about them. Most people I know think I'm crazy when I pick up my note book, and they ask, why don't you enjoy the wine instead? I taste several thousand wines a year, for me, it's about nuances. I'm not literary well enough equipped to do it otherwise. (Or have the time to write the short novel on each wine, that the wine probably deserves). I only started having some public views in writing after about 10.000 wines, way more than most people ever try in a life time. I reached more than 15.000 before considering a wine blog. Ad some more thousand before I actually made one. That doesn't mean I'm in any way more correct, or that my voice is more important than others, but I have some experience at least.

When I started out I had a few remarks on the wines after a few years, and after I started working in the Wine Monopoly in Norway. Simple ratings, like good fruit, not sour, long aftertaste. That would be it. Later on I took the WSET Advanced Certificate, and found out I needed to be more nuanced, and started with stars, one star was simple, six stars fantastic. Then I learned from an MW that you needed to be able to put all wines in a line of quality, especially important during blind tastings, say from one to ten. You needed to know what the best wines in the world would taste like, how they behaved, otherwise it's plain stupidity to try to rate anything. You cannot imagine how a 100 point or 20/20 wine is, if you haven't tasted some of the best wines there is, now can you?

When I read a lot of TN's on wine blogs etc. I see so many who have never tasted a wine that for them would be great enough to merit 100 points. (There are actual criteria that needs to be met for a more or less correct quality assessment of a wine, but that is another (huge) discussion). Well, if that's the case, how on earth can they know that the glass they have in the glass is a, say 92? 92 out of what? 92 out of the moon? 92 out of the feelings I get while I drive fast? You have to know the limits, don't you? What's the limits you say? I don't know! I have yet to try some of the possible limit crushers like the 1870 Lafite in magnum from a castle in Scotland, or a 1945 Mouton fetched from the private cellars of Baroness Philippine de Rothschild. But I have tasted some absolutely incredible wines that I really could not deduct anything from, they were pure perfection, and had everything, often in abundance.

So my first issue is then that without knowing the edges, the world is still..... let's say flat. I tasted some amazing wines early on, and gave them my full six stars. Then that wasn't nuanced enough, I started the half stars as well, then a wine came that really wasn't a four and a half, but not five either, so it was a plus as well, it all became quite complicated. To make it even more complicated, a 1962 Vega Sicilia Unico came my way. That was a easily seven stars, it opened another world. Still, the whole time, from my first six star wine, I think it was the 1993 Royal Tokaji Aszu Escenzia, I always had some sort of feeling where the roof was (at least my roof). Now I hear people stating that they will never taste a 100 pointer, if that is your outlook, how, I ask again, how do you know that the wine in your glass, the one in your mouth is a 92? It's like if you're driving a Fiat Uno, and you have never driven anything else, (a Fiat Uno would fetch way below 92 by the way) never even been a passenger, and still you try to convince the rest of us that we should listen to you when you try to explain how a Ferrari 599 goes arround a corner compared to your Uno?

Bizarre! Then it's the sheer nonprofessionality that is mostly more embarrassing for the ones who write about it, when it's so clear that things go beyond their understanding. Because they like a simple wine, they rate it high, and because they don't understand, or don't have the capacity to differentiate the nuances, length or sheer complexity of a truly great wine, they give it lower scores. The problem with this is that other people read it as some kind of truth, because it's in writing. The fool sort of teaches the fool, isn't it?

I don't score music, I know quite a few things about it, but not enough. I have seen thousands of films, I have favorites, but I can't score them either. I have no clue. I score wines, to see the nuance between two similar looking tasting notes. But it's not descriptive of the feeling, texture, balance, it's supposed to be the assessment of quality. That something inside this wine has an edge over the other. That does not mean that it has to be better, for better is personal, with a twist, depending on mood, who's around the table, weather etc. It's about Balance, Length, Intensity, Complexity and Consentration. How are the tannins? The use of oak? Or not? The acidity, texture, structure, body, the components that makes the wine what and how it is, not my pleasure, or lack of it while drinking it.

The more I taste, the more difficult it get's to give a score. Did I oversee something, is it something I don't understand in this wine? Etc. If you rated the wine 92 points, and Robert Parker did the same, does that make you proud, or have you only tricked yourself? If you move to the Vatican, learn Latin, start reciting the bible and dress up in all white, that still doesn't make you the Pope now does it? If wine is so important for you that you have to shout about your last experience from the rooftops, to the rest of us, have the decency to spend, as much as it takes, to find that one bottle, that for you is a perfect score. Then, only then will the rest of your effort give a meaning, both to yourself, and the rest of us. Otherwise it's a lucky guess. One thing I do know is, if you have never tasted a wine that is, for you a 100 pointer, and a 0, or 50 or wherever your scale starts or ends, it's very likely you have never tasted a 92 pointer either!

And to quote a fellow taster and writer on wines, Norwegian Piedmont guru Rune Rake, very few, if any foodies rate the topings of frozen pizza, for years on end.

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