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1WineDude | A Serious Wine Blog for the Not-So-Serious Drinker - Page 336

The Last Glass of Wine You May Ever Drink (Zen Wine Appreciation)

Vinted on August 6, 2008 binned in wine appreciation, zen wine
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HiYa! If you're new here, you may want to Sign Up to get all the latest wine coolness delivered to your virtual doorstep. I've also got short, easily-digestible mini wine reviews and some educational, entertaining wine vids. If you're looking to up your wine tasting IQ, check out my book How to Taste Like a Wine Geek: A practical guide to tasting, enjoying, and learning about the world's greatest beverage. Cheers!

This past week, I finally got around to watching Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture.”

For the 7 or 8 of you that have yet to see this (I’ve got a 4-month-old at the house… what’s your excuse?), the video of the Pausch’s inspirational lecture has been viewed by an estimated 6 million+ people. Pausch’s topic was fulfilling your childhood dreams, made more poignant and powerful by the fact that a) he had fulfilled most of his childhood dreams, and b) he was diagnosed with terminal cancer before giving the lecture.

Pausch died last month, at the age of 47. His lecture is amazing, and it got me thinking: if I were to deliver a lecture, knowing it to be my last before I died, what would I talk about? Then I thought about it another way: Why should my last lecture be special? Why can’t all my lectures be special? Why can’t I just live as if every day, and every event, were my last?

Then I wouldn’t have to do anything differently than I would on any other day. I’d rather have someone be able to show a video of any random moment of me spending time with my daughter, and that be a snapshot of the totality of me as a person, then have to worry about topping myself for some reason before I head off to the great gig in the sky.

In other words, I’d like to have my life be the testament to, well, my life.

What the hell does this have to do with wine? Glad you asked! Assuming you’re still reading, that is. You are? Great! Then allow me to explain…

I’ve written before about the role of mindfulness in heightening your wine appreciation. Basically, give a wine a moment or two of your pure, unadulterated concentration, and it will reveal its entire world to you.

Now, imagine if you treated every glass of wine that you have from here on out as if it might be your last glass. Man, you’d really give it some concentration then.

Sip on that for a while – you might find it brings a greater appreciation of wine into your life.

Even if it’s a glass of Yellowtail.

Check out more ‘Zen Wine’ non-action by the 1WineDude.

Cheers!
(images: rosalynclare.files.wordpress.com, zen-life.org)

The Trouble With Wine Ratings: Part 2

Vinted on August 5, 2008 binned in commentary

I’m glad to see that my post last week on the potential troubles with the 100 point wine rating system has spurred so much interesting dialog in the wine “blogosphere” (man, we really need another word for that…).

Probably the most interesting conversation on this was triggered by Steve Heimoff’s response on his excellent Unreserved blog. It’s worth reading, and Steve makes some great points about tirades against the 100 point system being a dime a dozen these days.

I thought that Steve’s response was very good, but I felt that he might have misinterpreted some of my points. This got me thinking that I might have been unclear in that post, and maybe some 1WineDude.com readers might have misinterpreted it also (uh oh….!).

So I responded in Steve’s comment thread, and I’ve reproduced my response here in the hopes that it will clear up any misunderstanding between us – and by us, I mean you and I, dear reader. Because, you know, we’ve got a special thing goin’ here and I don’t want to jeopardize our love-fest…

Here ’tis:

“Man, there is some excellent banter going on in these comments! I really enjoy your writing so I was particularly pleased to see that my post sparked some debate on your blog. I agree with quite a bit of what you say, I think the 100 point system does get abused too often in the wine blogging world.

Having said that, I think you might have misconstrued my post for one of those rants, which might be selling it a bit short (massive subjectivity of that self-appraisal duly noted, of course!).

To justify that, I should probably clear a couple of things up about that post of mine:
1) Steve, your palate would totally *smoke* my palate when it comes to reviewing wines (which is one reason why I typically don’t review wines at 1WineDude.com). If our palates shared a prison cell, my palate would be your palate’s b*tch, would bring it tea and biscuits every morning, and call it sir!
I wasn’t railing against the 100 point system in my post. You want to see a rant, pull up any post I’ve written about the PLCB ( http://1winedude.blogspot.com/search/label/PLCB ) for comparison; now *those* are rants. :-)

My point was that the 100 point system can be confusing to consumers, because it (as you say in your post above) is really a gradient quality scale based on one person’s palate. But that’s not how most of the wine media treats it, and it’s certainly not how the industry of wine sales treats it. So it doesn’t really do what it says “on the tin.”

2) I wasn’t bashing critics or consumers. I am bashing *anyone* who would blindly follow any rating or scoring system without doing any homework whatsoever. The truth is that there are too many people out there who do that, and part of being a wine blogger these days is to help point that out and hopefully add a little entertaining education for those consumers to show them what they might be missing. That doesn’t imply that they are stupid, just uninformed.

3) I should also try to clear up a bit about the 89 Project ( http://89project.blogspot.com/ ) – I did not found this but I do plan to contribute to it. If you take a look at the 89 Project home page, you’ll find that its charter is to try to bring exposure to the wines that fail to meet a 90 or above score in the 100 point scale – these wines are perennially doomed to lower sales figures, because consumers consider the 1 point difference between a 90 and an 89 score to be substantial (but probably not so for a 93 vs. a 94).

So, this is *not* an alternative rating system – it’s simply a review of these wines in our own voices. I don’t plan to give any of these wines a review based on a scale – I simply describe what I taste and explain if I think it’s good value for money (or not).

Hoping this clears up some of the confusion about my post. I certainly think that the 100 point system has its merits (after all, no one has offered a more popular replacement yet) and I’m not calling for its demise, just pointing out the gaps. I also am NOT a fan of inexperienced wine critics offering up their reviews as viable alternatives to more experienced tasters – I fully believe that expert criticism has its place.

I should also mention that I’m not hurting for blog material, and it was a conscious choice on my part to write a piece about the possible perils of following the 100 point rating system. I literally have more than enough ideas for material that I could post every day for a year without repeating myself (yes, even if I remove my rants against the PLCB – ok, maybe 9 months then ;-). I’m only pointing that out because I wouldn’t want any potential bloggers to read this thread and think that they shouldn’t blog from a fear of running out of material. That should be the *last* thing that they worry about when blogging.

Cheers!

(images: affordablehousinginstitute.org)

What the Heck Kind of Wine are You, Anyway? The Wrap-Up

Vinted on August 4, 2008 binned in commentary, wine 2.0

Last week I played around with one of those kitschy on-line questionnaires, which, since it had to do with wine, I found not-so-kitschy anymore.

The questionnaire/quiz was titled “What Kind of Wine are You?“, hosted at BlogThings.com, and the on-line wine geek community seems to have really taken to it, based on all of the twitter chatter going on as we shared our results.

What I found most interesting was the number of people who cried foul at having wanted to “be” a nebbiolo, but being given instead an entirely different ‘spirit wine’ (usually Merlot). Maybe it’s just me, but I associate Merlot with Vieux Chateau Certan, Duckhorn, Cheval Blanc, and Petrus – which just doesn’t feel like disreputable company…

Seems the designers of the “What Kind of Wine are You?” quiz need to check their personality assumptions with the rest of us wine geeks and revise the quiz…?

Anyway, here are a few wine blogger / wine geek results that the group shared with me. If anything, it might serve as an interesting introduction to a handful of wine websites that you might not have checked out yet:

Cheers!

(images: dawneasterevents.blogspot.com)

The Trouble With Wine Ratings (an Introduction to the 89 Project)

Vinted on July 31, 2008 binned in wine review, wine tips

Excellence.

You deserve it. You demand it.

It haunts you. It drives you.

It’s so Powerful. It makes you. Speak. In Broken. Sentences.

We’re obsessed with comparing things when we make purchases, especially in the U.S. Some of us are always out there looking for the best. Even in today’s excellence-obsessed status-quo-chasing society, no one can blame you for just honestly wanting to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to buying wine. Especially when the economy is in the financial out house.

This is where you’d think that wine ratings would help you. By rating a wine on a 100 point scale, you can make a quick shopping determination so that you can pick up the best bottle for the money, and feel confident that you got a good deal and will enjoy your purchase without having to learn any of that fancy wine mumbo-jumbo, right?

Not quite.

If I was grading the 100 point wine rating scale (hell, why not, we love to rate stuff, remember?), I’d give it a C-. That’s because the 100 point scale has 3 major flaws that prevent it from really telling you what you think it should tell you


Flaw #1: It’s actually a 50-point scale.
Yes, just like those exams you took in grade school, no one actually gets less than a 50. A wine gets a 50 just for showing up and writing its name (on the label). This would lead you to believe that, like those old grade school exams, the 100 point scale grades wines objectively. Which leads us to…

Flaw #2: It gives a false sense of Objectivity.
No one can really score a wine 100% objectively. This is because we all have differences in our palates, and therefore (at least) subtle differences in how we interpret a wine’s flavor and quality. If a particular critic gives a wine a very high score, it says nothing about whether or not you might like that wine. So, unless your palate and preferences are similar to that critic, if you blindly buy one wine over another just because it scored a few points higher, you may be passing up a great wine that you would enjoy even more than that flashy ‘high-scorer’.

Flaw #3: It implies a “Scale” of Excellence.
Like that old grade school grading method, you’d expect a wine scoring in the 90s to be better than a wine scoring in the 70s (an ‘A’ vs a ‘C’) – and for the most part, you’d be right. But is a wine that scores a 95 “better” than a wine that scores a 91? This is much trickier territory. A difference of a few points does not guarantee that one wine is better than another, any more than my scoring a 95 and you scoring a 91 on a wine exam guarantees that I’d be a better sommelier than you.

The trouble is that too many people fall into the trap of following the numbers for their buying decisions – so much so that a wine rated a 90+ will sell for a much higher price than a wine that scored an 89.

In order to help break out of some of the rut caused by this scoring system, a group of wine bloggers has started up a new blog called The 89 Project. The aim of the 89 Project is to highlight the wines that people are missing out on because of the 100 point system. I’ve signed on as a contributor, so watch that space for an update from me (once I get my dirty little hands on some tasty “89s”).

In the explanation of his 100 point rating scale, Robert Parker sounds his own word of caution about blindly following his (or anyone else’s) scores:

“No scoring system is perfect, but a system that provides for flexibility in scores, if applied by the same taster without prejudice, can quantify different levels of wine quality and provide the reader with one professional’s judgment. However, there can never be any substitute for your own palate nor any better education than tasting the wine yourself.

Well said. Don’t say we didn’t warn ya!

Cheers!
(images: wales.nhs.uk, modmyprofile.com)

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