How do I know if a wine critic and I have the same taste in wine?

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

Dear Dr. Vinny,

It’s important to find a taster who shares my values of what makes a wine great. For example, some Syrahs have a “meaty” component in their flavor spectrum; other Syrahs do not. It's critical to me to know whether the taster likes those “meaty” notes. Why doesn't Wine Spectator publish a guide to each taster's preferences?

—Michael, Noblesville, Ind.

Dear Michael,

There’s something really powerful about finding a reviewer whose tastes align with your own.

But the best professional reviewers differentiate between quality and style. That’s one of the reasons that Wine Spectator's tasters specialize in “beats” defined by region or wine type. It’s their job to wrap their arms around the entire range of styles and nuances and variations and vintages to understand what their beat is capable of. So if it’s a cool-climate Syrah picked early or a warm-climate Syrah in a warmer vintage—whether or not there is a “meaty” note shouldn’t matter. (But it will be mentioned in the tasting note!)

Senior editor James Molesworth recently described this approach more eloquently than I could: “The wine writer's job is to point to the good and bad of all styles, describe them as accurately as possible, and thus allow the reader to make an informed decision rather than dictating a preference based on style.” Amen.

I believe Wine Spectator's blind-tasting methodology makes this easier for our tasting staff. Rather than being distracted by the producer or the price tag, the taster can simply focus on the wine in front of them.

—Dr. Vinny

How to Taste Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

What does the word “unctuous” mean in a wine tasting note?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the term "unctuous," typically ascribed to …

May 20, 2019

Are collectible wines still collectible after the wine has gone bad?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny talks to Penfolds winemaker Peter Gago about 50-year-old …

May 17, 2019

Why aren't bottles stored on their sides at wine stores?

Wine's Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why wine bottles need to be stored on their …

May 15, 2019

Is there a polite way to tell a winemaker that I'm not enjoying their wines?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny suggests a few etiquette tips for kindly declining an …

May 13, 2019

Do you swirl a glass of sparkling wine?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why there's no need to swirl a glass of …

May 10, 2019

Is it OK to ask guests to bring expensive wine to a party?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny talks party etiquette.

May 8, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search