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Friday Fishwrap
My Final Words On The 100-Point Rating System

By Charles Olken

I will spare you the ugly details. Suffice it to say that good friend and smart man, Tom Wark, over on his blog, Fermentation*, wrote an almost spirited defense of the 100-point system pretty much debunking most of the silly commentary that gets thrown at that system. Go there if you want the full story and all the comments that followed. Your truly was somewhere in the mix, and if you, like me, occasionally like to hear nice things said about CGCW by others, some of the later comments about the quality of the written tasting notes will also be worth reading.

Suffice it to say that I made myself and my opinions known several times over and in various ways. Here, because it pretty well summarizes my position on the matter, is my final comment on Mr. Wark’s page. Your imagination will guide you to an understanding of the some of the statements to which I have offered a different understanding.

Wine is much more similar to wine than art is to art, but I would agree that I like some pieces more than I like others. And if pushed, I would admit that I could apply a number to my personal preferences. Picasso’s Guernica would be my 100-point piece of art work and I could, if pushed, put numbers to my personal apprecation of certain genres of modern painting.

But not only is art not ingested, but each piece is a one-off, not one of a thousand or ten thousand or 100,000 or one million. And, wine is also a purchasable commodity whereas original art is not for most of us. Finally, aside from a few uber-rich collectors, no one is purchasing art by the dozen or three dozen or whatever.

I hate to say it, because someone will inevitably misconstrue my meaning, but wine is a commodity, and the competition in the market place where millions of people are gathered consists of thousands and thousands of versions of that commodity. And it is a commodity that changes every year.

Thus, there is an enormous demand for helpful evaluations that enable many of those millions of consumers to find what they want without having to taste thousands of wines. That situation alone is why wine reviews exist, and notational shorthand, whether puffs, stars, thumbs, letter grades, 20 points or 200 are just that. They are notational shorthand that attempt, for lack of a better system of communication, to suggest an expression of level of appreciation.


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100 point system
by Dwight Furrow
Posted on:3/28/2014 5:01:52 PM

I too was caught up in the maelstrom of Wark's post. I enjoyed your comments there. Art is also a commodity. I think the most obvious reason why wine is rated and works of art are not is that works of art and music can be sampled before buying because they are not ingested. Wine often cannot be for obvious reasons and so consumers need some shorthand guidance.

100 and counting
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:4/1/2014 9:27:40 AM

Thanks, Dwight. I have never figured out why it is OK to rate movies but not wine. I think it is a snob thing first and an anti-authority (read that as mostly anti-Parker) thing secondly.

But there are also a few wineries whose products do not do well and who used to run after rating but now diss them. Hedges, up in Washington, is the most obvious and amusing example.

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