How We Review Wines

How We Review Wines
Smelling Wine
Photo © star5112

With all the different wine reviews and tasting notes here, you deserve to know how we choose our wines, what our procedures are for reviewing wines, and the reasoning behind our evaluations. This will help you know how much credence or weight you should give to our reviews. We try to be as open and forthright as possible with what we say, so feel free to ask any questions you have.

Wine Choice & Purchase

All of the wines we review on this site are chosen by us and purchased at our own expense simply because they look to us like they might be nice wines to get to know. We're educating ourselves as much as we're trying to help educate others and this process requires exploring a wide variety of wines — different varieties, different styles, different countries of origin. We'd like to try them all, but we have to focus on something and these are the wines we've picked out.

Wine Comparisons

Some wines we review individually with a meal picked out because we expect it will pair well with that wine, but most wines we review in pairs. The point of reviewing two wines together is that both faults and positive qualities can be highlighted when presented in the context of a different — but similar — wine. A good wine doesn't always reveal all it's secrets alone. It's frequently the case that the right food and/or another wine can bring out more about the first wine you're drinking.

One disadvantage of this is that if one wine is clearly better than the other, it's easy to downgrade the second wine simply because it falls short of the first. That's unreasonable if the second wine is good on its own. We do our best, though, to also treat each wine as individuals rather than to just compare them against each other. When we say that a wine is good or poor, we say that based on our evaluation of that wine individually and not because it's better or worse than another wine we're having a the same time.

Wine & Food Pairing

Wine is frequently best when paired with the right foods rather than when drunk alone. The right food can really make a wine shine while the wrong food can make even a great wine taste horrible. Consequently, all of our wine tasting is done with a variety of foods. Certain foods — usually main dishes — are picked because we think they might pair well with the wines we are tasting. Other foods — usually cheeses and some meats — are used every time to create consistent points of comparison between wines over time.

The foods we try to pair consistently across multiple wines include:

  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Aged Gouda
  • Swiss Cheese
  • Aged Parmesan
  • Feta
  • Chevre
  • Pepperoni
  • Chorizo Salami

Some of the main dishes we try to pair wines with include:

  • Roast Turkey
  • Sushi
  • Pork Barbecue
  • Hamburgers
  • Hotdogs
  • Bratwurst

Wine Scoring & Rating

Although we give wines a rating, we don't gives wines scores. How is that possible? The five-star rating system we use doesn't actually represent a scoring system in the usual sense. Instead, it represents how likely we are to buy the wine again. The more we like a wine, the more likely we are to buy and drink it again.

  • Five Stars: We're going out tomorrow to get this wine again.
  • Four Stars: We're looking forward to getting this wine again.
  • Three Stars: We'd get this wine again.
  • Two Stars: Not interested in getting this again, but we might drink some if offered.
  • One Star: You couldn't pay us to get or drink this wine again.

So a "four star" wine isn't a wine that we've given "four points out of five" or that "rates a four on a scale of one to five," but rather a wine that we are looking forward to drinking again — we're looking more forward to this wine that a three star wine, but not quite as much as we are looking forward to a five star wine. It's just a statement about how much we enjoy one wine relative to others.


How Wine Spectator Reviews Wine

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