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.
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.