Should 1WineDude.com Start Using Wine Ratings? Have Your Say!

Vinted on January 7, 2010 binned in about 1winedude blog, wine review

Yes, I am actually going there.

No, I don’t expect everyone to like it, which is why I am asking you what you think about it.  Here’s the skinny:

What It Is

  • A grade I would give any wine reviewed on 1WineDude.com (and on the mini-wine review twitter feed).
  • The grade would follow the ‘report card’ format: highest compliment is an “A+” and lowest is an “F” (maybe an “F-“ if the wine really, really, really sucks donkey bong).

What It Ain’t

  • It is NOT a numerical rating system (we know where I stand on that stuff, right?).  For those of you who like to ‘post scan’ and then comment: Please do NOT comment on how I am a sellout because I’m giving a wine a number.  Because I’m not giving it a number.  Actually, why am I writing that since you post-scanners aren’t reading it.  Whatever.
  • It does NOT mean a change to how I cover wines on the blog. Same approach (detailed coverage, a story about and behind the wine, not just a tasting impression), just add the grade to the end of it.

Why The F— I Am Doing This

  • I know that there are many wine-lovin’ people out there who probably don’t take a lot of stock in a numerical score, but still want a quick way to take it all in when it comes to a wine’s value for money, it’s overall sensory impressions, it’s raison de’tre (is that raisin de’tre for Amarone? sorry, couldn’t help myself).  I’m just not sure if those folks are reading this blog.  Hence the poll below.

Feel free to give me your thoughts on this, and comment away if you love it or hate it.  I’m a big boy – I can take it.

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Cheers!

77

 

 

    Comments

  • Chris


    I was having a discussion with myself about doing wine ratings. I managed to talk myself out of it while doing this blog http://bit.ly/5DbCsJ http://bit.ly/6HWDqQ. It is not that wine ratings are bad. It has its time and place. However I never take notice of a rating when selecting a wine. However if someone says to me X wine went great with Y meal last night and we had a great time, I will look it up next time. Wine is about an experience, and how do you rate an experience? I don't think you can rate experiences, just accumate them.

    Just my opinion though! It wont stop me for reading your posts :-)

  • @voxinferior


    pun aside – misplaced apostrophe – raison d'être……..Oh, the ratings – sure, go for it.

  • Jason Malumed


    Go for it, Dude! That is all.

    PS, I'm taking the CSW exam at the end of Jan, any tips??

  • 1WineDude


    thanks!

  • 1WineDude


    Thanks as a matter of fact, I do! Check out http://www.1winedude.com/index.php/2008/01/26/how

    And good luck!

  • Jon Troutman


    Whatever you feel comfortable doing! Wine ratings are totally subjective and reflect how you feel about a specific wine at a specific time. If you're comfortable assigning a value / letter grade, then DO IT! What I value most are the tasting notes and descriptions that you give, so that I can compare my palate to other reviewers palates… keep the good stuff comin', dude :)

  • 1WineDude


    Thanks – the descriptions wouldn't change. Cheers!

  • James McCann


    I would say yes to ratings, as I have no problem with someone assigning a score, numberical or otherwise, to a wine.
    Won't you have the same problem in differentiating between a B+ and an A- as another reviewer might in deciding between an 89 and a 90?

  • 1WineDude


    Wow – I'd say that you're taking a much deeper read on this than I intended. I don't think that bloggers will be threatening wine publications' grip on the shelf-talker ratings anytime soon.

  • 1WineDude


    Great question. I don't know the answer, except to say that I don't expect to hand out too many +/- ratings. But you never know – we could run into exactly the same issue as the infamous 89/90 problem, except without the disparity in potential retail price point :-).

    Cheers!

  • 1WineDude


    Also – I have no idea why the code isn't working to center the poll on the web page above. Hopefully you all don't mind the aesthetic faux pas too much :-).

  • YakYakWine


    I think the blood sport reaction is unwarranted, but the fact that bloggers' or other social media, I'm thinking of CellarTracker, wine ratings may be used for marketing purposes I think will happen sooner rather than later.

    I don't think it's a bad thing, just the established pros will have to step up their game or sharpen their pencils. What's that other saying, "the whole ship rises with the tide".

    • tom merle


      CellarTracker, where 20 +/- wine enthusiasts comment on and rate a new release will become the dominant 'go to' site. "The Wisdom of Crowds" where the average/median score emerges with a standard deviation attached, provides a superior evaluation.

      • 1WineDude


        GREAT point – and they basically use the 100 pt system.

  • 1WineDude


    I'd love to see it happen, though bloggers as a group probably won't standardize on any system anytime soon, which will make it challenging for retailers to decide which blogger ratings they should feature (if they do).

  • vinogirl


    It's good for you to try something different, especially if you feel your ability to write about wine demands something new and is hindered by not providing a rating….I can just ignore your little A, B, C's :) Great Amarone pun!

  • 1WineDude


    :-)

  • Robert Dwyer


    I personally like the 100 point scale as a quick way to determine whether the reviewer liked the wine or not. I also I like your 140 character tasting notes- they're very clever and useful. They assign a personality to a wine, which I really appreaciate.

    But a tasting note that's merely a description of the smells and characteristics of the wine that are the typical things you'd find in that category really aren't very useful to me. In cases like this, a numerical or letter grade rating would improve the tasting note I think.

    Cheers!

  • Serge Lozach


    I know what you mean but that may be the beauty of it. If a store were to align itself with a blogger that was approaching critical mass, many in the consumer community would already understand what that bloggers ratings were about and the store might attract consumers based on which blogger they fancied…..
    As you know these things have a way of sorting themselves out and US consumers love to define themselves.
    Maybe I'm getting ahead of the market but everything is changing quickly and it never hurts to think ahead…

    UnmitigatedGaul

  • 1WineDude


    I think it's great to have a vision of that kind of future – and I hope it gets here soon. In fact, I hope that the day when consumers don't rely so much on those shelf-talkers at all comes quickly!

  • 1WineDude


    Fixed! I think…

  • 1WineDude


    Or, I might just be muddying the waters by using +/-. For example, is a "D+" really a grade that anyone would ever use, except just to piss off the producer? :)

    • tom merle


      D+ might be a useful score=a wine not worthy of a Gentleman's C. And D- means the wine is really bad but is not corked or in other ways damaged and therefore deserving of an F.

  • El Jefe


    Do whatever you like – it's your blog for pete's sake – just make sure we know what each grade means (I know you will). But I think it would be cooler to have a 5 donkey bong scale with half donkey bongs allowed.

  • Susan Guerra


    I would have to ask why you think a "grading" system would be more valuable to your readers than the tasting notes you provide? What I love about your notes is that they are usually succinct and entertaining as hell (especially in the weekly "tweetup" form). What could be easier, faster and more fun?

    I am also not convinced that assigning a letter grade is any different than assigning a number score. Am I missing something?

  • 1WineDude


    That would force me to come up with a visual for the donkey bong, of course… and I'm not above doing that! :-)

  • 1WineDude


    You're not missing anything at all, Susan – I'm opening up the question here of whether or not it would provide value to the 1WD readers. Some people love ratings, some hate 'em, some are indifferent. What I don't want to do is put something on the blog that 1WD readers wouldn't find valuable in some way, hence the poll and the invitation to comment on whether or not it should be done.

    I think every rating system is flawed in some way. My approach to adding a wine 'grade' would be to augment my 'story' approach to presenting wine on 1WD, so that readers can get a quick assessment of what I thought of the wine (rather than compare the merits of a 'B' vs. an 'A' grade, which I really, really, really hope doesn't happen).

    Cheers!

  • Susan Guerra


    Gotcha on the explanation. I guess I am torn because I agree that every system is flawed (I really hate the ratings actually) and I also feel that you already do a great job on your blog with giving the quick skinny on the wines you taste in a way that is really enjoyable to read and they are not IMHO "typical" tasting notes. So my indecision is why I didn't just do the poll. Sorry to be so unhelpful but I must say that I like El Jefe's idea… or perhaps something in that vain that is a little more playful than numbers or letter scores.

  • 1WineDude


    I totally understand. Your comments *are* helpful!

  • Serge Lozach


    I take no issue with it but please call it what it is – Marketing.
    Bloggers smell blood in the water as to whom consumers turn to for wine advice. The publications are slowly losing thier grip.
    In order to truly cross the rubicon the next step for bloggers is to address retailers dependence on scores/ratings to move wine off the shelf. If the bloggers can get retailers to follow them and use thier ratings all that "shelf space" becomes de-facto ad space for the bloggers. Lets not beat around the bush here with considerations about who did or didnt sell out.
    Its war.
    UnmitigatedGaul (twitter)

    • RobBralow


      I agree with Serge (otherwise he won't invite me to his parties…)

      Seriously, the reason that makes the most sense to me to adopt a ratings system is so others (read marketers) can use them in succinct sound bites.

      Dude, right now do you believe that the message of how you felt about a wine is ambiguous in your posts? Do you feel you need to make it more crystal clear to show the read what you are trying to say about the wine? If the answer to those two questions is no, then why adopt a ratings system? The answer is so that people who are not reading your blog, and who might have only heard of you, can understand instantly what you thought about a wine. Who uses that? Anyone trying to sell a wine to anyone else.

  • 1WineDude


    Interesting take. Until I read these comments, I'd not at all thought about the marketing soundbite angle.

    Also, how do I get invited to Serge's parties? :)

  • Wee Ree Boy


    I agree with some of the previous comments…namely that your twitter desriptions capture your view of the wine in an informative and entertaining way ( find myself eyeing a new wine at the shop and wishing I had one of your twitter descriptions)….and a wines value varies based on the tastes of the imbiber, what it is paired with, the moment surrounding its enjoyment…impossible to rate that. Finally, this seems to contradict your long standing view that one needs to decide for themselves what they like best. by taking off the ratings training wheels and learning to find your own balance and skill in evaluating wines…something I always liked about the Dude's philosophy.

  • 1WineDude


    Sage advice – as always!

  • Serge Lozach


    In terms of mass market it wont happen any time soon, but the savvy retailers who set the trends in cities like New York are following bloggers and are always looking for ways to differentiate themselves.
    As savvy wine marketers are paying as much attention to the new media as they do to the old, whats to stop some key bloggers to break through the clutter and become market forces in the very near future?
    You know what they say – "By the time most people spot a trend its already in the rear view mirror".
    UnmitigatedGaul

  • 1winedude5036


    Thanks, bro!

  • tom merle


    Instead of a 30 pt. system (100 pt. system=70-100) which is unnaturally precise, you're adopting a 15 pt. system assuming you use the +/-, which you will. For purposes of showing the most accurate take on a wine, I still like the 10 pt. approach (5 stars with 1/2 stars allowed, which is also similar to Alder's scale). Yours may be the happy compromise.

    • tom merle


      I have to correct myself. You really have a 12 pt. system: four categories A,B,C,D (no E) and flunk is just not included, with three variations.

  • @suburbanwino


    I'm okay with ratings. Everyone can use a frame of reference. Even if someone doesn't like a wine you rate highly, or vice versa, (here's the key) if you explain why you loved/hated/meh'd it, then that's educational to the reader.

    Maybe you could rate wines by Rush album. You know: "Rush" would be an A+, "Moving Pictures" an A, and- uh- "Presto" would be F (maybe…I do like "Show Don't Tell")

  • 1WineDude


    I can hear very eerie music in the background when reading your comment.

    Like, during a horror flick… "Don't go into the basement!"

  • John Cesano


    Giving a wine one of 15 letter scores (A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, D-, F+, F, F- ) is just 1/6.66667 as imprecise as giving a wine a number score on a 1-100 point scale, and seems to be the equivalent of handing out number scores on a 15 point scale. Number, letter, 100 point, 15 point. Scoring, grading. Semantics, potahhhto.

    It is your blog, do what you want; you don't have to justify your decision to hand out nearly the same thing as a number score to anyone.

    I actually like 15 instead of 100 possible rankings, the lack of preciseness lends itself to the subjective as opposed to objective grading of wine anyway.

    • 1WineDude


      Not sure I agree with your analysis, John, in terms of equating the grade to a point value. I think that giving a wine an "A" tells us something more than giving it 92 points, for example. It tells us that I thought the wine was excellent and a better wine, overall, than one that has been given a 'C' or a 'B'. Where we could get in trouble is too liberal a use of +/-. Some of the +/- in that scale I'd likely never use – D+, D-, F+, F-, C-… even A- or B- would be kind of odd. I really only see using A+ if I"m really ga-ga over a wine, or B+ if the wine just didn't quite come together but was still really good. Tough to say at this point – I'm really in the embryonic stages of the concept.

      Cheers!

  • 1WineDude


    Sorry bro – for me, every RUSH album would end up denoting an A+ at some point :-).

  • kevin keith


    Man it's gonna be interesting how you and me and everyone else does it. Tom Wark really threw the gauntlet down. But like El Jefe said, it's your blog, man, do what you will. And rock it to boot!

    • 1WineDude


      I just read the post that you're referring to from Tom ( http://fermentation.typepad.com/fermentation/2009… ). Interestingly, most of the comment discussion there is around the concept of editing blog posts, and fewer comments touch on the idea of tasting 3000+ wines per year. I agree with Fredric's take on this:
      "The problem lies in logistics and earning a living. Since very few people actually make money from their blogs, the time they could spend on marketing and reviewing 3,000 wines a year is necessarily limited. And, as you say, not many people can afford to buy all the wines they could potentially review."

      Nat McLean commented that she tastes > 10K wines per year. NO bloggers can afford to do that unless they are receiving upwards of 200 wine samples PER WEEK.

      I'll comment this on Tom's post, but also will mention it here: no way bloggers can match that kind of review volume unless more than a few of them band together and somehow agree on a common rating system. And I don't see that happening because we're still all too individualistic.

      Cheers!

  • @nectarwine


    wow, I'm late to the game on the comments, but I think you do what the hell you want. It's your blog. On mine I use a 5 pt scale with +/- on the 3's and 4's. I could give a crap what people think about the system – it's helpful to me and it provides a consistent and quantitative experience for my visitors. go the eff for it!

    josh @nectarwine on twitter

    • 1WineDude


      Well, to some extent I agree with you. However, I'm not up for changing the blog unless it's going to somehow add value to the readers…

  • John Cesano


    Whether you give a wine an A or a 92, it tells us that you liked it more than a wine that you give a C or 72. points, letter, puffs, stars, it is largely the same. The more I think about it the more helpful I think it would be for those that care to have wines receive scores.

    None of my son's teachers grade on a curve. All of his grades are based on score. 90-100 gets and A, 80-89 a B, 70-
    79 a C, 60-69 a D, and 59 and under is an F. His report cards also include a key to each letter grade, A Outstanding, B Above Average, C Average, D Below Average, and F Fail.

    Almost every 100 point scale offers similar qualifying words, 95-100 Outstanding, 90-94 Great, 85-89 Very Good, 80-84 Good, 70-79 Adequate, 60-69 Below Average, 59 or less Not On A Bet. Substitute A+, A, B+, B, C, D, and F for the ranges, the words remain the same. I

    A grade isn't a number score, but most people will translate the letter translates to a representative number range anyway. A range is better than a set number because of the subjective nature of wine tasting.

    I think it is silly to tie yourself up in knots over this. Just do it.

  • John Cesano


    Whether you give a wine an A or a 92, it tells us that you liked it more than a wine that you give a C or 72. points, letter, puffs, stars, it is largely the same. The more I think about it the more helpful I think it would be for those that care to have wines receive scores.

    None of my son's teachers grade on a curve. All of his grades are based on score. 90-100 gets and A, 80-89 a B, 70-
    79 a C, 60-69 a D, and 59 and under is an F. His report cards also include a key to each letter grade, A Outstanding, B Above Average, C Average, D Below Average, and F Fail.

    Almost every 100 point scale offers similar qualifying words, 95-100 Outstanding, 90-94 Great, 85-89 Very Good, 80-84 Good, 70-79 Adequate, 60-69 Below Average, 59 or less Not On A Bet. Substitute A+, A, B+, B, C, D, and F for the ranges, the words remain the same. I

    A grade isn't a number score, but most people will translate the letter translates to a representative number range anyway. A range is better than a set number because of the subjective nature of wine tasting.

    I think it is silly to tie yourself up in knots over this. Just do it.

  • @smellslikegrape


    Numeric rating scales do suck donkey dong or whatever you said. A-F seems innocuous enough on the surface but what if you become incredibly influential down the road? Then a B+ could be akin to the 87 point kiss of death!

  • @smellslikegrape


    Personally, I'm partial to the 3 point Miles Raymond Wine Rating system:

    * F'ing Raid
    ** Quaffable, but far from transcendent
    *** Haunting and brilliant

  • Ron McFarland


    How about a simple in or out.

    If a wine makes it to your website – it worthy of being on my dinner table.

    If it does not make it to your site – buyer beware.

    Too simple?

  • 1WineDude


    I know…. I know… but god help us if I ever become that influential!

  • 1WineDude


    Ha! Excellent!

  • 1WineDude


    Well, that's probably a bit too simple – there are so many wines that I won't try, that doesn't mean they should be avoided, of course. Also, I like to write about wines that I don't like sometimes :-).

  • 1WineDude


    You make a great point about people 'reading in' numerical values to those ratings. Now that I think about it, I suppose it's inevitable.

    I'm not tied up about it, actually – just great to have the discussion open and hear (read) the differing viewpoints. Cheers!

  • carlos toledo


    you should give grades, yes, but i have a better suggestion: grade all the components that when added up set the grade. I explain: 5 stars for visual, olphative, nose and mouth- alcohol behaviour (balanced or not), tannins, acidity, persistence in the mouth. I guess those are all points that people ought to take into consideration when grading a wine, whether ''informally'' grading it or with actual numbers. how's that?

  • 1WineDude


    That is totally awesome and probably totally too much work for me ;-)

    • carlos toledo


      You may not have thought about this, but every time you run the 100 points system you apply the points i proposed. Numbers, letters, stars or roses it doesn't matter. We'd like to see the wine broken down…. what's going on with each part of it. A 90 points wine could have grave finish problems, for instance. i'll try to help you out with a simulation:

      Visual = clean, bright 4 stars
      Olphative (whatever you say in english) = pleasant and balanced. it became more complex as time passed by 4 stars
      Mouth = alcohol slightly present. Long finish, tannins yet green. 3 stars
      Acidity = Present, although it's agreeable. Crispy wine… 4 stars ( or could be letter, A+ all the way down to F).

      Just trying to help…. good luck.

  • @suburbanwino


    binary code, dude. 1 = good, 0 = bad

  • Wee Ree Boy


    Based on the comments so far and where my mind is at at the moment….get degrees in biochemistry, socialbiology and evolutionary anthropology…then base your multidisciplinary PhD on how to develop a scale for evaluating wine that adheres best to our sense of taste and smell, our sense of community and family, epigenetic rules (culture), and why we like bloggers telling us what to buy. Perfect.

  • 1WineDude


    ***BEST*** idea yet!!!

  • 1WineDude


    Don't forget it should also be blessed by the Pope…

  • Wee Ree Boy


    You clack me up!

  • Ron


    Totally agree with the A-F report card system. Nobody has a palate so finely and objectively tuned for the 100 point system to make sense. And when was the last time even a really gross wine got a score of less than 60? A-F allows for comparison without pretending some sort of scientific accuracy. Go for it!

  • 1WineDude


    Thanks, Ron – that's kind of the big selling point of the A-F system for me.

  • Ron


    Totally agree with the A-F report card system. Nobody has a palate so finely and objectively tuned for the 100 point system to make sense. And when was the last time even a really gross wine got a score of less than 60? A-F allows for comparison without pretending some sort of scientific accuracy. Go for it!

  • Charlie Olken


    Joe, Dude, ratings are ratings are ratings are ratings. It matters not what system of symbolic notation you use, a rating is nothing more than a shorthand way of stating a conclusion. Whether one uses terms like good, bad or indifferent or A to F (with or without plusses and minuses) or twenty points or three puffs/stars or twenty points (with or without decimals), that is a rating.

    The notion that the 100-point system fails for being too precise is a reasonable argument. But, so is the notion that 88 points means that the reviewer liked the wine a little more than one he or she rated at 87 at a given point in time. Try explaining the difference between C+ and B- sometime. Any grading/rating system must ultimately split hairs. And once it does, and once the writer crosses that rubicon, it really does not matter which system is employed. The finite judgments being made are going to just that–finite judgments about a subjective subject.

  • Charlie Olken


    So, Dude, my advice for whatever it is worth, is that you either do not add a grading system of any sort to your descriptive jottings or that you adopt the 100-point system with all of its supposed, imagined and real warts. Every system has them. No system avoids making judgments. All judgments are subjective, non-scientific and ultimately not always replicable. But, Dude, the 100-point system rules not because Parker made it famous, but because it has become the lingua franca of wine descriptions in this country.

    If you are going to cross that rubicon, you might as well speak the same language as the rest of the world. Welcome to the dark side, my friend. What kept you?

    • 1WineDude


      :-)

      Thanks – always a pleasure to hear your side of things!

  • thirstygirlpa


    People love ratings and, frankly, it helps me keep my wine straight. The worst thing about my ratings is that people keep saying they're waiting for me to rate a "really great wine" before they buy. Clearly they're missing the point. "A" wines aren't the only enjoyable wines and I will taste things differently from they way they do.

    Bottom line is, people will read what you say and do whatever they want with the info you give them. Do whatever it is that makes you happy!

  • Dale Cruse


    Dude, don't do it.

  • 1WineDude


    Thanks! That also gives me an excuse to keep referencing RUSH at random spots in my articles. :-)

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