In defense of the 100-point system, once again
Not that I feel it needs defending against the knuckleheads who are always attacking it, but– well, sheesh, I guess I do feel it needs defending!
Here’s one of the best (independent) rationales for the 100-point scoring system — independent, because it comes from someone who has nothing to gain from praising it. His name is Neil Monnens, he publishes an online wine guide called the Wine Blue Book, and he was quoted in an interview in the blog Good Grape: A Wine Manifesto last week.
Wine Blue Book researches the scores that wines receive “from leading wine critics,” according to its FAQs. (I couldn’t find anything on the site that identifies who the critics are; if I missed it, sorry.) Then they come up with an average price to determine a “quality-price ratio.” In the Good Grape interview, Jeff Lefevere asked Monnens, “Since you and I last talked, have you seen an increase in the use of points as a scoring mechanism,” and here’s what Monnens replied:
Yes. Some folks continue to dismiss the 100 point system but they choose a 10 point system and then score wines 8.9 or 9.6 which just translates to an 89 and 96. The 20 point system is the same but just 20% of the 100 points. The folks who dismiss the system advocate “trust your retailer” but since a retailer’s income is dependent on the wine the consumer purchases, I would rather trust the scores the critics provide since their income isn’t dependent on the consumers purchase.
I’m glad somebody’s finally talking some sense, besides me ; > The 100-point system isn’t any different from a 10-point system (as Monnens explained), or a 20-point system (which is actually what Wine Enthusiast’s is, since we don’t publish scores below 80 points), or a 5-star system (which is really the equivalent of 80, 85, 90, 95 and 100 points), or any other icon-based system you can think of. I think it’s also important to understand, as Monnens pointed out, that a critic’s income — mine, anyhow — doesn’t ride on the scores he gives. Believe me, I’ve given lousy scores to Wine Enthusiast’s advertisers and high scores to wineries that never advertise anywhere. So he’s right when he implies that a critic like me has far less incentive to inflate scores than does a wine merchant.
Not that the public shouldn’t trust their local wine merchant. If you can get a relationship going with a trusted one, it’s as valuable as having an outstanding physician, analyst or personal trainer: someone you entrust yourself to, and who you know won’t screw you. That’s a good person to have in your life. But so is, ahem, a good wine critic.
By the way, that dream job at Murphy-Goode is getting ready to announce their Top 10 applicants, on July 7. They’re already narrowed it down to the Top 50. If you haven’t watched the videos, which are posted on the website, you’re missing out on some really great entertainment. Some of these people are so clever and talented, it just takes your breath away.
Dept. of Oops!
“An Italian priest caught driving over the alcohol limit pleaded to police that it was only because of the Holy Wine he had drunk as part of the mass, Ansa news agency reported…the 41-year-old priest is set to appeal against the ruling, saying his alcohol consumption was not “voluntary” since it was part of the Catholic ritual…”
Officer, I swear it’s not my fault! I involuntarily had to drink 106 wines because it’s part of the ritual of being a wine critic! If you don’t let me go, you’re a, uhh, criticphobe!