How many wine columns warn you away from wines that are downright nasty? The wine trade doesn’t do that. Well, not in the way that restaurant critics get stuck in!
There are many reasons. One is that if a wine is scored poorly ie a 79 rather than an 85 then we are supposed to know that it probably should be avoided. Another is that if we are being truly objective then we need to define what is ‘nasty’. If a wine is ‘off’ its usually just a bottle or two; if a wine is undrinkable its usually not on sale at all! So if we are to say a wine is worth avoiding we are actually talking about wines that are technically ‘correct’ and on sale. Indeed, we are most likely talking about wines that people are buying and in many cases enjoying. Who do I think I am telling people what they should like and what they should not like!!
Wine writers, it seems, have plenty of super wines to write about without muddying the waters. Wine writers often need to look over their shoulders so as not to annoy potential advertising. Better to stick to saying nice things then..
I can remember describing a Gran Reserva as ‘no more a Reserva than my Granny is’. I was threatened with legal action!. At the time I said ‘bring it on’ as I had given my reasons and the wine was on sale at €4.99 and it was just a bottle of fruit juice and ……well, it was all a bit messy. See. Say something inaccurate (even lie) and we will be thanked for our efforts. Be entirely accurate and be pilloried.
Wine writing should be clear, informative, honest, accurate and knowledge based. Otherwise its wine opinion. Everyone should have an opinion. Not everyone can, or should, be a wine writer. Maybe there should be more writing explaining why a wine should be avoided. Maybe; but I don’t see it happening any time soon.