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De inflatie van wijnpunten

´Critici´ overdrijven om er beter van te worden


Bedenkingen tegen de inflatie van de wijnkritiek. Die heeft Wijnwijs al eerder geuit. We noemden destijds het voorbeeld van de wijnjournalist die op (bedrijfs)proeverijen niet meer welkom was omdat hij naar eer en geweten 'punten' aan wijnen toebedeelde, maar daarmee naar de zin van de uitnodigende partij niet royaal genoeg was. Dat werkte de reputatie-campagne voor die wijn tegen. We hebben ook beleefd als jurylid bij een wijnconcours te worden aangespoord wat guller met punten om te gaan dan de wijn eerlijkheidshalve verdiende, omdat anders het gewenste aantal medailles niet zou worden behaald. Wie zich daartegen verzet ( en dat is op de proefformulieren bij controle te zien) hoeft dan niet te rekenen op een juryplaats voor een volgende competitie. Dat melden wijncollega’s de laatste tijd veelvuldiger. Gevolg: profijtelijk ingestelde 'critici' gaan overdrijven om bij de grootste commerciële jongens maar in beeld te blijven. De wijnbeoordeling vervalt dan tot een ordinair ego-concours. Wie het meeste punten geeft, wordt op die manier de gefingeerde, maar niettemin 'gevierde' top-criticus die in promotiemateriaal wordt geciteerd en overal commentaar mag leveren. De oprechte collega wordt zo uit de markt gedrukt. Zelfs blekere 'sterren' onder deze 'critici' hebben zich op die manier 'opgewerkt'.

 

Ook de bekende Britse wijnjournalist James Goode ,website Wineanorak, ergert zich daar mateloos aan. Hij schrijft op zijn blog:

"Whatever you think about the merits of scoring, it is fundamental to the practice of rating wines. But it is being undermined by a gradual creep upwards in the scores being given by wine critics.

When Robert Parker began dishing out 100 point scores, he definitely used a wider range than is currently practised by the Wine Advocate. Back in the early 90s, the 89/90 boundary used to be a big deal. (See this analysis by Blake Gray.) And as a novice wine lover, the 86As (inexpensive wines, designated by A, that scored 86/100 points) used to be a happy hunting ground for me

Now, 90 is a very normal score, and 86 is a fail. No one wants to see an 89.

Why have scores gone up? Has wine quality got better? To a degree, average wine quality has improved. But I don’t think this explains the creep at the top end.


Big ego´s

This score inflation is caused by competition among critics, big egos, and the fact that these critics like being liked.

Competitive scoring began when Parker had competition from the Wine Spectator. And then a new generation of critics emerged, all doing the same sort of thing. There are a whole range of critical voices now, whose business model is based around attracting subscribers, selling reports, selling stickers, selling certificates, and putting on events paid for both by consumers and wineries.

What the point-scorers realised was that if they gave higher scores, the wineries were delighted. And they started quoting them in their marketing materials. And buying their stickers, and paying to be included in events, and displaying certificates they’d purchased in their tasting rooms. And retailers used the point scores at point of sale.

Basically, if you scored more generously than the competition, you would be the one quoted, and the wineries and retail stores would give you free publicity. And so the critics became addicted to this frenzy of dishing out high scores and being celebrated and loved

Pressure

But there’s also the effect of affirmation from producers. If, as a critic, you have some personal insecurities, then it can feel great to be loved. If you give a high score, then you make producers very happy, and they like you and affirm you. You feel like you’ve made a bit of a difference. And when you see your scores being quoted, it makes you feel a bit more significant. There’s a psychological pressure right there to err on the side of generosity.

Even very good people have become sucked into this silly game. 95 is the new 90. There’s very little room left at the top end. People who should know better have found themselves unable to show some restraint. Their competitive spirit has sucked them in. They can’t kick the habit.

Look at the Australian situation: it’s probably the worst. Honest but ordinary table wines with 95 points. An Aussie said to me last week that you need 98 points, or else a score just isn’t any use in marketing these days.

Ultimately, the act of dishing out elevated scores to get attention, be quoted more, and make more money from wine producers themselves, is essentially a selfish act. It muddies the water for the rest of us, who are trying not to allow our scores to creep upwards. It’s greedy and destructive.

95 and above should be reserved for truly exceptional, world class wines.

I’m not sure whether the 100 point scale can be saved. These critics show no signs of slowing down, and the score creep continues. The only hope? The absurd situation of score extension beyond 100! Be it symbols or extra points, just wait and see..".