I recently came across an online article that said that wine criticism is changing. According to writer David White, wine experts and critics are becoming less relevant to wine consumers. He argues that the wine industry itself is losing some of its stature and appeal because everyday consumers are sharing their ideas and recommendations via a variety of social media outlets. In fact, White says, “Consumers are supposed to decide what to drink based on the advice of prominent wine critics — not mere amateurs.”
And to a point, I understand where he’s coming from. Traditional wine critics such as Robert Parker who used a numerical, 100-point system to rate wines seem to be fading. More and more people are relying on recommendations from blogs (such as this one), Twitter posts and websites such as CellarTracker to find a new wine to try. But I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I agree with one of White’s last thoughts in the article: “Today’s wine drinkers are an adventurous bunch, confident in their own palates and willing to trust the advice of their trusted networks.”
This sentence perfectly describes my perspective on wine. I think as a wine consumer, you should be adventurous and try wines that are out of your comfort zone in regards to what you’ve tasted previously. I place more trust in my own palate than I do a recommendation from a faceless wine critic giving a wine a score from 1-100. That’s not to say the wine industry doesn’t need wine critics. I think most wine critics are experts in their field and the industry needs that expertise when comparing or judging wines, vineyards and vintages. And there’s still a segment of the population that will turn to the advice of a wine critic instead of plucking a bottle off a shelf because it looks interesting or they read about it on a blog.
But I think globally, people are turning to more personable sources as their first resort, rather than “experts.” Wine critics and experts should take note – they could become more relevant and popular if they lost some of their jargon and spoke the same language as the everyday wine consumer. That’s just my opinion on the matter…what’s yours?