Thursday, January 21, 2010
Are These Wines Rated?
That must be the single most reviled question I have ever heard at a tasting. Granted, it's only happened twice, but WOW does it piss me off. Really? You need to rely on some shmuck to tell you what you like? Do you really doubt yourself that much? Frankly, I think you also like giving me all your money without asking questions.
Actually, now that I'm breathing again, I should acknowledge that wine is an intimdidating subject when you first start. I'll admit to perusing the Wine Spectator and Robert Parker for clues as to what to drink when I first got into wine. But, and this is VERY important, I quickly learned what I liked and did NOT like in relation to those critics. I knew enough about myself to quickly realize that for some wines my palate lined up and for others it completely disagreed (pretty much most things when it came to Parker, truth be told). And yes, I know, we all need to start somewhere.
But, and this is a VERY big BUT, do NOT come to my tasting and ask me "are these wines rated?" while holding a ream of printed out reviews. I have never asked my distributors to send samples to any of the critics (even though I will admit I do love reading Josh Reynolds and Steve Tanzer), so unless they buy them on their own they're not tasting anything I represent. And, frankly, I don't care if they do. I know these wines are good and well-made. If you taste them, you are free to agree or disagree. The most important thing is to TRUST YOUR PALATE.
Here, let me repeat that: TRUST YOUR PALATE.
Seriously, these critics do have a place in the wine business, for they can guide and shepherd you along the winding vinous road of discovery. They can show you new regions and new wines you'd never find without them. At the end of the day, however, YOU are the one drinking the bottle, YOU are the one judging it on that day and in that place, YOU are the one deciding whether it's good or not.
So don't go to tastings and ask the wine rep there if they're rated. Taste the wine, close your eyes, let it sit on your tongue while you breathe over it, let all the long-chain molecules waft through your sinus passages and over your palate, and either swallow or spit, your choice. But make your own decision.
Now excuse me while I go punch a wall.