I’ve been listening to Tick Box Art on BBC Radio 4, about whether and how we should measure the quality of art. I couldn’t help but think how much of what is discussed could be (and perhaps should be!) applied to wine.
They raise the important questions of liking vs quality, knowledge/learnedness vs instinctive appreciation. Soweto Kinch, jazz musician, recounted a clever analogy of a non-jazz listener learning to appreciate jazz - one that could well be applied to someone just beginning to venture into the world of wine. Learning Russian indeed… (I won’t repeat it here - listen to the program, it’s worth it.)
But what I found most compelling was the assertion that ‘it is not possible to measure quality in an art work. Whenever we ourselves engage with an art work, whenever we talk about it with friends or write about it or reflect upon it, we never talk about numbers. We never talk about metrics, we never try and measure it. And that’s because it’s absolutely impossible. It’s entirely the wrong way to go about evaluating art work…’
Since the early eighties, the wine world has become more and more obsessed with scores. Personally, I feel that what applies to a piece of music, a painting, a sculpture, dance, could and should apply to wine. I don’t for one minute feel that the role of the critic is redundant (indeed, this program also points out the importance of the role of the critic), but today’s wine critics seem unable to tear themselves away from the score card. It reduces the value of wine to a number, and causes plenty of confusion (is a 16 point Chambertin Grand Cru inferior to a 16.5 point Bourgogne Rouge? Or are they being marked against their own class rather than in a giant pool of wines? And if the latter, should we ever compare a Burgundy Pinot to a New Zealand Pinot?). And it conclusively distracts from what I think is the primary point of reviewing a wine: does it taste good?
Anyone feel that there is a good argument for scoring wine?