Don’t Trust Those Medals

March 24, 2010 No comments » [ssba]

Claudio Ponte

Recently, a guest asked why we don’t have any medals hanging in the winery. I explained to her that Ponte Winery doesn’t enter competitions because we don’t care what the judges like. We do, however, care deeply what our guests like. In fact, you’ve probably heard us say on more than one occasion that our our number one rule here at Ponte is “If you like it, it’s good wine.”

I went on to tell her about a 2009 Wall Street Journal article entitled “A Hint of Hype, a Taste of Illusion.” In this article, author Leonard Mlodinow reveals the results of a four-year study conducted by retired Humboldt State professor and winery owner, Dr. Robert Hodgson.

The results were published, after getting proper peer review, in the prestigious Journal of Wine Economics. Although a few national publications have written about the study, most wine drinkers in the general public haven’t even heard of the article or its findings.

The article described a series of studies that proved scientifically something I have suspected for many years: That wine judges cannot produce reliable results when tasting wines.

Prior to Dr. Hodgson’s study, the judging panels that award those medals and points you see advertised had never been tested. How inconsistent is the judging, you ask? The study showed, for example, that when the same wine was served three times from the same bottle within a flight (a grouping of wines tasted at the same time), many judges gave that same wine different marks. He found that wine ratings varied on average of +/- 4 points between 80 and 100 points; meaning, a wine could be scored with 91 points in one tasting and anywhere from 87 to 95 in the next.  Go figure!

So if you are the type of person who purchases wines  perhaps based on medals or point ratings, I suggest you Google “Hodgson wine study,” read up on it and educate yourself.

As for us here at Ponte Winery, we have always felt strongly that it is up to each of us to discover what we like and what we don’t like to drink. We make eighteen different wines–from sweet to dry, bold to light, fruity to earthy, and in varietals that have originated around the globe–so there is a wine to suit everyone’s palate.

Don’t let someone else dictate what you should buy. Experiment, taste, decide, and only buy what you like. If the winery down the street makes one you think is delicious, by all means get it. If you taste one we make that makes you think: “Yum!” then that’s the one to get today.

As always, thanks for your support and see you at the winery. And remember, if you ask me what’s our best wine, I’ll always tell you “it’s the one YOU like.”

Posted by , March 24, 2010 No comments

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