Forget the critics

Catie, the self-described “Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman,” really knows her wine, and I’m a regular reader of her blog, Through The Walla Walla Grapevine. A few weeks ago, one of her posts caught my attention, and I finally have time to write about it. 

Back on Aug. 1, Catie’s blog post focused on the favorite Washington state wines of Gary Vaynerchuk in Episode 177 of Wine Library TV. Catie noted that Gary’s trademark, “Changing the Wine World,” has been featured in TIME Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and on Conin O’Brien’s NBC Late Night Show.

Today on Episode 307, Gary focused on our state’s wine again, including one of my favorites, 2004 Pepper Bridge Merlot. But what really caught my attention was this statement by Gary, which underlines how he is indeed changing the world of wine: “Get everyone to know wine is about personal taste and not what a critic says …”

I couldn’t agree more. I prefer red blends or big Cabs. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t good whites or roses. Some people prefers whites and even dessert wines, which I cannot fathom. But the bottom line is there is no right or wrong when it comes to taste.

Some people have a good nose and a refined palate and therefore can distinguish the multi-layered combination of aromas or flavors of a wine. (Sometimes I can. Other times I can’t.) Others are baffled by tasting notes and wonder how wine can taste flinty or earthy. Other people can’t distinguish bouquets or aromas, but they know what they like. As Gary so wisely said: Wine is about personal taste and not what a critic says.

So what are your favorites?


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About Margot

Margot has been writing about wine since 1997 at KOIN-TV in Portland, Oregon; ten years later, she created this blog. Write for Wine focuses on the fine wines of Washington state, with occasional posts about other northwest wine regions (Oregon and B.C.), California, ANZ and Bordeaux. A former national journalist in Canada, Margot has been a Washington wine enthusiast since moving to Seattle in 1999. Her motto: “It’s wine o’clock somewhere.”

4 thoughts on “Forget the critics

  1. Exactly! It’s all personal, which is why I remain confounded that so many folks rely on critics, who conduct speed tastings (e.g., 150 wines in less than 3 hours – no exaggeration) to assess whether a wine is good or not. It would be like taking one bite of a meal, chewing it quickly, spitting the contents out, and then making a judgement about a restaurant. Like food, wine deserves more time and attention on a personal level rather than chosen solely on the basis of someone else’s quick judgement. Me? I’ve evolved from enjoying big, meaty wines (e.g., zin, syrah) to now favoring more understated, lower alcohol wines (e.g., pinot). All the while, I’ve let my palate be my guide, not some wine critic who tasted something a few seconds before assigning a score.
    Thanks Margot for highlighting this issue!

  2. I totally agree with you, Thad. and I appreciate that you left a comment. I’d really like to get a conversation going here-that’s what blogs are all about, after all. :)

  3. Hi Margot,

    Thanks for reading and for the nice compliments. Ya gotta love Gary Vay-ner-chuk! Parker Points are lovely for a winery to have. They are marks of achievement for their hard work and talents, but sooner or later, it has to be about the wine consumer’s personal taste. Maybe I am getting too surly and opinionated in my old age, but we should be buying wines that we love because of of our personal tastes and not because of the high score, and the high score only. Cheers!

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