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One more reason why wine scores are useless, 2022 explanation
Sweet cabernet sauvignon? Give it 90 points!
How does this wine sound?
“Moderate tannins and a touch of crisp acidity add to its appeal. ... 90 points.”
“Gentle tannins meld with spiced plum and powdery mocha in this easy drinking, uncomplicated red. ... 89 points.”
In other words, value and quality – and especially for $15, which we haven’t seen much of in the past couple of years.
The only thing those two blurbs shows is that wine scores remain useless -- utterly and completely without merit.
This red is a California cabernet sauvignon and it’s sweet. It’s not white Zinfandel sweet, but closer to red blend sweet, so noticeable but not overwhelming. In fact, taste this wine, as I did a couple of weeks ago, and you’ll get that cotton candy feeling in the back of your mouth that shows residual sugar is lurking in the shadows.
So how does the wine get such good scores without anyone noting that it’s sweet and not especially cabernet-like? A wine that gets 90 points is supposed to be “Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style.” This wine? It’s about as ordinary as these things get, regardless of its sweetness and un-cabernet-ness.
Call it the Winestream Media’s wink and a nod that sweet exists and that sweet sells a lot of wine. There are a couple of keys here, though, for those of us who are paying attention. The phrases “adds to its appeal” in the first score and “easy drinking, uncomplicated” in the second. Call each winespeak for sweet when the reviewer doesn’t want to use the word “smooth.” Because this wine goes out of its way to be smooth – front, middle, and back.
Know, too, that this is not a rant against against sweet wines -- red, white, pink, or otherwise. Everyone should be able to drink whatever they want, and my job is to point them in various directions so they can find what they like.
But the scores don’t do that. Let’s say I’m looking for a $15 cabernet that tastes like cabernet (which pains me to write, but I do recognize how the wine business works these days). I see 90 points and figure, “Wow, I’ve got a winner here.” So I buy it, get it home, take a sip, maybe wash it around my mouth. “Ooo.. what’s that?” and then I spit it out and get a beer. (Which is more less what happened.)
So wine notes, yes, as long as they contain a bit of directness. But wine scores? Never, and this is just one more reason why.
More about wine scores:
• Wine scores not only refuse to die, but seem to be increasing like the spawn of the devil
• Wine scores rant: Top-notch cava gets 86 points, about the same as a crummy supermarket wine
• Chateau Bonnet Blanc and why scores are useless