Friday, May 2, 2008

About points

In the database you will find wines with a given point (XX). The system is called the 100 point scale was introduced in 1978 by the most influential wine critic on the planet; Robert Parker. You can find more information about the rating system here, but overall the system works like this:

96-100: An extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine of its variety. Wines of this caliber are worth a special effort to find, purchase, and consume.

90-95: An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines.

80-89: A barely above average to very good wine displaying various degrees of finesse and flavor as well as character with no noticeable flaws.

70 - 79: An average wine with little distinction except that it is a soundly made. In essence, a straightforward, innocuous wine.

60 - 69: A below average wine containing noticeable deficiencies, such as excessive acidity and/or tannin, an absence of flavor, or possibly dirty aromas or flavors.

50 - 59: A wine deemed to be unacceptable.

Why Points, why not. From April-2007 I stopped to give points.

Why?... I will try to explain.

Do points work? Sure they do. There is a difference between wine A & B and some wines are simply better than others. But to see wine as a drag race is quite naïve and narrow minded, as wine is not something we test, but something we use. Which one is best; Selosse bold oaky infected Rosé or Bérèche fragile Instant rosé? Put them in a boxing ring, and Anselme will knock Raphëal over, if he can catch him. Serve Selosse (like in the Krug Party tasting) with Beef flaps with beetroot, parsley and smoked marrow and magic will appear. Serve Bérèche Instant rosé and the food will be too much for this elegant Champage. We should embrace the diversity of wine, in order to understand wine better and not to forget that we are all small emotional aliens on a constant move.

Points are the fastest consumer path to digest through all those fluffy adjective descriptions we call tasting notes. Points are like Aaron Levensteins quote on statistic: Statistics are like bikinis.What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital”. Defenders of points will always tell you, that the text description of the wine is equal to the value of the point. But I don’t believe in this sales speech, as points will always be the center of attraction in such a setup.

I’ll accept that the professional tasters have adapted the use of this schematic dogma in order to communicate their messages. However – for us consumers, which ends with a whole bottle and not a mouthful it’s completely ridiculous to use points.


Last year I saw Sting & The Philharmonic Orchestra play an unforgettable concert in the Danish Royal Theatre. I had a horrible stressful week and the concert came as an angle sent from heaven. The concert was everything I hoped it would be. First thing I noticed was the sound level. Rock or pop-concerts can be rather tinnitus provocative, but this was gentle, delicate and gave the sound a fragile breeze. I sat there and just let myself get sucked in and for a moment I saw only sheer beauty of life. I was emotional captured, no doubt it and held my wife’s hand and felt happy. Writing about it, maybe sound a tad too romantic, but emotions are small spontaneous blips, which can be pretty hard to suppress once they have been activated.

In front of me, there was a guy filming the concert with his iPhone. He filmed 2-3 times, before he wife leaned over to the poor soul and asked him to stop. I could easily ignore it, as the music had already hypnotized me, but still I thought about after the concert.

Why would one film such an event? Why do I even write tasting notes and not just level and relax with the wine?

Well I could probably try to find a Freud angle on this guy filming the concert with his iPhone and stir it around in a big bowl of soup, which plot is about increasing narcissism in our society. But that’s probably not a good idea, as I am a victim myself with this blog thing.

So what has this to do with points?

Well – wine is not just about breaking the code, recording the evidence, nailing the wine and sending it to the morgue with a tag on the big toe. Wine speaks to us in different tones and languages – so why not listen and not talk all the time.

When I write a tasting note I rarely scribble while drinking it – but wait until I have finished the bottle. I do this to understand the wine better, but also in order to bring myself to a state of mind, where I mentality can relax and level with the wine. This is not easy for me, as my daily work absorbs too much of my energy. So it’s not a bullet proof plan and sometimes I fail. I fail when I expect too much of myself and never seem to bring myself to that aesthetic comfort zone. But with all boundaries lies lessons to be learned. My lesson (maybe also yours?) is listening more carefully to my state of mind and adjusting it to the wines I am drinking. That’s why you will see tasting notes, where I increasingly praise “simple” wine, as they have the ability to please our palates with delightful fresh flavours and never passes the volume limit, which causes too much stepping on each others toes.

When succeeding to level with the wine, that’s my preferred way of going forward. I might not get all of the details right, as I take my notes the day after, but I don’t care. It has no relevance. My tasting notes are not the correct equation; it’s a diary entry – nothing else. I don’t praise you to tell the truth, because it doesn’t exist in my world. Paper notation while drinking the wine would be like continuously stopping while having sex or dancing with your partner.

In the end I would be no different than the fool filming the Sting concert with his iPhone.

That’s one of the many reasons why I don’t use points. I could come up with a lot more, but I rather say Cheers!!!!! and let’s drink some wines.

Best from,


No comments: