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Wall Street Journal: Beverage Ratings are an “Illusion”


Anti-Wine Spectator Ratings

Beverage ratings are ridiculous: this much we know, but don’t take my word for it. The Wall Street Journal is shining a light on the absurdity of the situation, publishing a piece this past Saturday about wine ratings titled “A Hint of Hype, A Taste of Illusion“:

But what if the successive judgments of the same wine, by the same wine expert, vary so widely that the ratings and medals on which wines base their reputations are merely a powerful illusion? That is the conclusion reached in two recent papers in the Journal of Wine Economics.

That wine critiques are peppered with such inconsistencies is exactly what the laboratory experiments would lead you to expect. In fact, about 20 years ago, when a Harvard psychologist asked an ensemble of experts to rank five wines on each of 12 characteristics—such as tannins, sweetness, and fruitiness—the experts agreed at a level significantly better than chance on only three of the 12.

But what is a drinker to do in order to choose the right beer or wine? ASK FOR HELP. People in wine and beer shops are typically pretty cool people. Ask them what they like within a price range, and they’ll rock your world with geeked out picks that are the reason they got into the beverage business in the first place.

For more ratings-free goodness, check out the new issue Mutineer Magazine.


  1. JJ Bagley | Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    Spot on. Every time I go to the Pizza Port Carlsbad Bottle Shop I find something that I just can’t leave without. The guys there are totally into beer and love to direct you to some of their favorites. Experience fine beverage!

  2. Alan Kropf | Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    Yes. Like Great Sex, Great Beverage must be experienced to be understood…

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