Don’t Trust Those Medals – Part 2

Claudio Ponte

Those of you who read Part 1 of my article on wine competitions know that we believe that the results produced by “expert” judges are inconsistent. We also believe that medals are unreliable indicators of what wines will be good for our guests and our Wine Club Members. Now there is scientific evidence to support our philosophy. You can read Dr. Robert Hodgson’s study for more information.

Perhaps as a result of this discrediting of wine judging, an unusual new angle on wine competitions is emerging. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “My Rating? I like it!” published January 23, 2010, announced a new type of wine competition which will take place in Lodi, a wine area south of Sacramento. The judges will be amateurs like you and me, whose only qualification will be to like wine. They will only taste wines from varietals they like, and will be prohibited from taking notes or sharing their opinions with other tasters. Once they taste a wine, they will rate it and move on to the next one, without the opportunity to go back, re-taste and change their rating.

The article describes another new competition, which will feature industry experts from Generation Y, the 21 to 30 year old “Millenials”, to act as the judges. There will also be a “ladies only” competition involving female judges. These competitions will try to determine if the younger set, or the fairer sex, prefer a specific taste profile. At Ponte Winery we already know that the majority of our lady guests and Wine Club Members favor “drinkable” wines, those with less alcohol, less “burn,” more balance, and that are often a blend of several varietals.

At the Lodi competition, the judges will be separated into groups depending on the sensitivity of their palate. The three categories will be tolerant (preferring stronger tastes), sensitive (preferring moderate taste), and hypersensitive (preferring wines with a subtle taste). In theory, each group will produce reliable scores within their own preferred flavor profile. This makes sense and perhaps they will be less prone to make the type of errors outlined in Hodgson’s study.

The evolution of so many new judging formats is further evidence that our Rule No. 1: If you like it, it’s good wine, makes a good deal of sense and is hopefully becoming common knowledge.

I do encourage you to decide which of the three types of palates you have. Personally, I am a middle of the road type who likes a medium bodied, balanced wine that can stand up to regular everyday foods. If you have a tolerant palate, you might as well stick to big reds, and if you are hypersensitive, spend your time discovering the delightful nuances of floral whites, dry roses, and (if your budget permits) fancy pinot noirs.

We welcome your visit to Ponte Winery to discover (or rediscover) what you like. If you are too far for a visit, or want to organize your own “wine competition” in the comfort of your own home, call our Wine Club department and order a pre-packaged Sampler Case with 12 different Ponte wines (the normal case discount applies). Taste the wines with your loved ones and let us know which ones are your favorites. Thank you for your support. Cheers!


Posted by , April 5, 2010 No comments

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