Reviewers turned reviewees

Just noticed this on social media:


Would love to know which one is which, though obviously the writer isn’t exactly impartial!


Say what you will about wine critics, but at least they criticise publicly - identifying themselves and what they are criticising.

I wonder what sound @danchaq would make!?..
But seriously, thanks for posting! A funny read, and I admit to feeling schadenfreude… :grinning:
I have an ambivalent feeling about critics (in all fields). They always bring to mind the old “those who can’t do-teach” (and “those who can’t teach - teach gym” - Woody Allen). Funny read before bed :wink:

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I think it was originally a private letter (in which the author would presumably have been obvious). It seems that it’s just been made anonymous by subsequent publishers.

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This reminded me of potentially my favourite song of all time:


Thanks for sharing this…

we’d rather not be sued for defamation by outraged critics unable to take the heat when it is applied to them.

This rings very true.

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But at least two MW critics get a slating which is not a massive field.

At least critics in other fields are prepared to be critical. Wine writers aren’t, at least in public.

Perhaps this points to the fact that unlike, say, a book critic - a wine critic can be ‘bought’, and there is much more potential for reviews being compromised due to incentives. If I spent time at a producer’s chateaux, tasting their wine, and enjoying their hospitality I’d be much less inclined to sound critical. It’s a funny thing anyway - ‘critically’ analysing something so subjective and so dependant on other factors as wine; add to it the potential for influencing one’s opinion, and the whole thing can feel like a bit of a charade.

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“At least critics in other fields are prepared to be critical. Wine writers aren’t, at least in public”

So true, and there lies the problem, the pro critics poo poo the amateurs yet rarely if ever say anything untoward about the product they are tasting, the amateurs do !

I would be surprised if certain book critics could not be bought… same as wine critics.

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There was a recent outing of a book critic who having given a glowing review was found to be a family member of the writer but was using a pseudonym, the same with writers reviewing writers who never write anything but glowing reviews or car testers who all vote for a European car of the year that disappears without trace, reviews on Amazon where the product is given free to the reviewer etc etc…

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I’d imagine the issue is biggest with wine critics though, because of the importance of access to the best wines. It must be fairly difficult for any wine lover to deliberately sabotage (via a negative review) their relationship with a particular producer or consultant, meaning that they no longer get to try great old vintages that are only realistically available to taste to those in favour at the chateau. Even if a book reviewer savages the latest McEwan, they can still go and buy any of his other books. A wine critic, on the other hand, could totally lose the opportunity to taste certain very rare vintages of Chateau X by giving Chateau X 2017 a poor review.


I would put some money I can guess A and B… probably a long shot on D… but clueless of the rest…

I take your point, but I still sense that there would be much more to lose by openly and honestly criticising a bottle/producer, than by trashing JK Rawlins latest attempt at fiction. Of course, there are sycophants in all fields, but as @Mooble pointed out, losing access to tasting old or rare vintages, or losing perceived privileges in a world saturated with elitism and snobbery as it is - can have much more of an impact on you as a critic - or so I suspect.

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I suspect so, too. :slight_smile:

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It is interesting in a world so long dominated by Parker, who did say what he thought even if it was because he preferred a certain style of wine, though he never said otherwise, that Bordeaux in particular altered their wine making styles to accomodate him.

Those that did showed how the bottom line will always win out in a subjective world.

Now that he has retired we see a volte face from the bulk of the Bordelais and a world push towards lighter refreshing wines now that “Bob” can longer interfere, the truth is there is room for all styles but you wont see a wine critic admit he likes a full on Shiraz despite the fact they were lauding them to the heavens two or three years ago.
What is wrong with a full buttery Chardonnay, everything according to the same critics as the style goes ever lighter, it is fashion but fashion can and often does get it wrong when all follow the dollar and produce the “right” wines, not that anyone ever asked the general public who buy these bottles if that is what they want !

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The real critics work for their readership, who often pay for access to tasting notes. They publish their policies about accepting hospitality and samples, and sometime taste blind. Those guys are critical when they need to be.

Then there are people who often call themselves wine writers, some of which do not even publish any tasting notes, good or bad, preferring to stick to more general topics. They often get less income from their readers (directly or indirectly) and are more beholden to producer organisations for hospitality. Most are scrupulous, and upfront about the hospitality they receive. Regardless, they rarely say bad things - either it is nice or they keep quiet. That is kind-of part of the deal, and they need to do that if they want to continue in business. If you don’t like it, don’t read it, but you might be missing out on some useful information. (I sort of come under that category of writer, but pay my own way in the vast majority of cases, and write about a wide range of wine topics that do not necessarily involve particular wines and producers anyway.)

To complete the set, I suppose there is also the odd dodgy writer/critic who pretends to be independent but gets paid in one way or another for writing nice reviews.


I can’t recall ever seeing any acknowledgement of hospitality etc received.

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I certainly. Where do you read? Mabe those writers don’t accept hospitaility?

Actually, thinking about it, maybe you see acknowledgements more often in online writing. It could be that print editors object, and in those cases yku have to read between the lines.