A wine review is an assessment from a wine expert that gives you their opinion on a bottle of wine. This usually comes with a tasting note and a score to help customers navigate through the large world of wine, as most of us can’t spend our days tasting through hundreds of wines!
These can be helpful if they are coming from an expert. It may be hard to know which wines you’re going to like, so the recommendation of a professional can relieve some of the uncertainty. Some of these experts are Robert Parker, Decanter, Wine Enthusiast, and James Suckling.
Medals & Competitions
I don’t really recommend following medals, as it’s hard to know which ones are really credible. Although the judges are almost always professionals, the pool of entries may not be so prestigious, so the winner may be the best of not-so-great wines.
Problem: Palate Fatigue
There’s another problem with competitions that may also be true for critics: palate fatigue. Even the best of us who are spitting and taking good notes eventually start to get tired on the palate after tasting 100s of wine in a day. So there tends to be a bias towards bigger, bolder wines because they’re louder and can stand out from the bunch. Critics often make visits to wineries in regions where they specialize, so this is less true for them, but it does happen depending on the context (and you can still taste 100 wines even if you only visit five domains, depending on where you are).
Problem: Palate Bias
The other danger in following wine scores is that they’re always going to be biased to their own taste, which isn’t yours! Robert Parker became so famous for his preference towards powerful, oaky wines he influenced winemaking styles worldwide towards this more concentrated style. If your tastes are the same as the critic, that’s great! But wine is very subjective, so the best thing to do is to learn what types of wines you like best, and which other styles of wines are complementary to your taste. Palate Club actually only uses your reviews to recommend bottles, so there’s never the disappointment in learning that the critic’s tastes don’t match yours and their 97 points is a 65 for you.
Wine critics can help guide you to good wine, but the best person to trust is yourself.