Thumbs Up? Thumbs Down? An Unscientific, Much-Welcomed Approach to Wine Ratings

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When it comes to wine, whose opinions do you trust: A panel of professional tasters who frequently disagree amongst themselves, or some amateurs who like wine and drink it for the same reasons you do?

If you haven’t guessed, I’m siding with the latter group. And I’m not alone. We’ll see how the amateurs do in the upcoming Consumer Wine Awards, reported on recently by the WSJ, which explained:

The idea behind this competition, and a handful of other new approaches to evaluating wine, is to address some flaws in traditional wine judging. Critics of wine competitions and point systems argue that experts frequently disagree among themselves, and wines that win in one competition often lose in others. Experts have been known to assign the exact same wines both high and low scores after tasting them on separate occasions, one study found. Another wrinkle: A study showed that consumers tend not to prefer the wines experts like best, raising the question of whether experts’ opinions are pertinent at all.

Wines that get high ratings from the experts also tend to be more expensive, on average. So if you buy a wine that the experts say is great, you’re probably paying a premium and you’re fairly unlikely to actually enjoy drinking it.

‘Expert’ Wine Sippers Take Us All for Suckers