I’m often asked how many wines I taste a year and, for a long time, the answer has been 5,000.
That sounds like a lot, particularly to consumers and those not in the business. And it is. But when you break it down, that’s about 100 wines a week, and I try to taste 20 wines per day on average. Some days it’s a little more. Some days I skip.
I’m curious about what you think constitutes a big tasting. How many wines a day, or week, or month do you try to sample?
I mention this because I came across a story online about reviews, rating systems, scores, etc., and one of the publications mentioned was Wine Spectator. And at the end of the story, one of the persons interviewed offered a conclusion: "The problem [with tastings]," the person quoted said, "is when a critic tastes 100 wines in a morning, the bigger, bolder wines inevitably stand out and get bigger scores. The methodology stacks the deck against delicate wines."
No one at Wine Spectator tastes that many wines in a morning, and I doubt any of our tasters hit 100 in a day. Wine Spectator's blind tasting procedures aren't a secret.
So that’s one of those urban legends that circulates about tastings. People who do taste 100 wines (or more) in one sitting are pushing human limits and, in my experience, the margin for error in judging wine quality is greatly increased.