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,
How does Wine Spectator determine which wines get reviewed?
—Becky, Dallas, Texas
We review about 17,000 wines a year at Wine Spectator, and while that is an awful lot of wine, our goal isn’t to taste every single wine out there. Instead, we do our best to focus on the wines that we think best serve our readers, providing a range of regions, prices and styles that are widely available (or worth the search) for our audience. To do this, we employ a mix of strategies.
The majority of wines that we review are submitted by wineries or distributors, and we’re so grateful to them for making sure we have fresh, timely samples with accurate information. Typically a producer will contact us when they want to submit wines, and we’ll review those submission applications on a case-by-base basis (no pun intended) and decide which wines to accept for review. These decisions take into account many variables, including the wine’s track record, how long the wines have been in the market and how widely distributed they are.
In addition to the wines that are submitted, the tasters and the members of the tasting department keep an eye on what else is out in the wine world, which leads us to solicit samples directly, or purchase the wines at retail. We do all of this with an eye on what our readers are telling us what they're interested in.
Once we get the wines, the tasting department sets them up in flights for blind tastings. The blind-tasting methodology is very important to us, because we feel it levels the playing field, giving the wines a fair review without taking into account how much the wine costs or who the producer is.