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Monday, March 12, 2007

Grading on a curve

Does Robert Parker's 100-point scoring system blaspheme the noble pursuit of producing and consuming wine? Mike Steinberger's latest article seems to make that claim. I like Steinberger...he's one of the few wine writers I read regularly. He is more of a storyteller than a critic, and I enjoy his work.

But I suppose I don't care one way or the other about the 100-point system. Face it, wine consumption is and always has been a rich man's game, particularly in the States. I'm more interested in the vineyard itself, and then the more traditional practice of placing wine on the table as part of a meal rather than as some kind of prize concotion to be sipped, studied and collected. I'm also somewhat dubious about charging more than twenty--at the most thirty--bucks a bottle. I'm also more impressed by a great wine in the $5 to $12 range than an excellent wine that costs $25. But then I work for the state, and I'm always looking for a good deal. If I were back in the corporate world, perhaps things would be different.

But rich people go with wine, and $250 bottles go with the territory. I'm not a believer in the cost-benefit-ratio of such a purchase, but hey, if you got money to burn, I suppose it's worth it. I have much greater respect for someone who spends $15,000 per year on wine rather than someone who sinks their disposable income in something completely ridiculous like, say, a Hummer. And they help the industry thrive through their ability to blow lots of cash on boutique wines. And Parker's scale adds to this phenomenon. He likes a wine, and its price rises. While this silly rating system doesn't necessarily apply to me and my plans for a part-time vineyard operation as I don't live anywhere near Dijon or Napa, neither does it hurt my endeavors.

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