A Consumer Revolution in Wine

Posted by | Posted in White's Wines | Posted on 10-30-2013

Flickr, ChristinaT.

Flickr, ChristinaT.

As regular readers know, I write a free, twice monthly wine column that’s distributed to newspapers across the country.

These columns are hosted by Palate Press: The Online Wine Magazine. If you don’t see my column in your local newspaper, please send an email to your paper’s editor and CC me (David – at – Terroirist.com).

In my latest column, I applaud the declining influence of prominent wine critics — and contend that in the optimistic future of American wine, well-informed consumers will be confident in their own preferences and eager to explore without consulting a professional critic.

A Consumer Revolution in Wine

“This democratization of wine is great,” asserted Jancis Robinson, one of the world’s leading wine authorities, over coffee one recent morning.

Robinson was in Washington, D.C., to promote the seventh edition of The World Atlas of Wine, the indispensable reference book co-authored with Hugh Johnson.

Robinson has spent the last four decades writing about wine, publishing thousands of reviews. Yet while chatting about wine criticism, she seemed excited about the prospect of consumers putting less stock in her opinion.

“No longer are wine critics and reasonably well-known wine writers like me sitting on a pedestal, haughtily handing down our judgments,” she said. “Nowadays… [consumers] can make up their own minds. That’s altogether a lot healthier.”

To hear Robinson so eagerly applaud the declining influence of prominent critics was refreshing.

In the optimistic future of American wine, well-informed consumers will be confident in their own preferences and eager to explore without consulting a professional critic. Already, we’re well on our way.

Check out the rest of the piece on Palate Press: The Online Wine Magazine.

Comments (2)

  1. David, thanks for the kind words as always. And isn’t Jancis just fantastic?

  2. Consumer reviews, whilst a fantastic development thanks to Eric’s wonderful website, still don’t tell the reader anything about the enthusiast taster’s palate and preferences. The note, as Jancis says, is the thing more than the score, but the score summarises the olfactory response and critical conclusion of the reviewer. That surely is also the benefit of following a group of wine reviewers you admire – if you know you share a similar plate and preferences to Jancis Robinson, Tim Atkin, Chris Kissack, Bill Nanson etc. then you have a basis from which to interpret the tasting note. Some of these guys also have day jobs, so are arguably your archetypal prosumer; the principle remains the same: we need first to understand how a reviewer tastes if we are to rely on write-ups to inform purchasing decisions.