Debating the merits of scoring is a well-worn topic on wine blogs and forums, but this nicely argued contribution on John M Kelly’s blog “notes from the winemaker” offers an original perspective. Do read it for yourself, but basically John describes the lengths it would be necessary to go to in order to make an objective assessment of a wine. Of course, no critic works like this, and their scores are essentially subjective.
After reading it, something else occurred to me. If wines were scored with the rigour described in John’s blog post, the scores would still most likely be meaningless to the consumer, possibly more so than the scores of today’s critics. Why? Because all the factors that are so important in drinking and enjoying wine are removed in order to get a reliable assessment, and no one actually drinks wine in laboratory conditions. An even more fundamental objection lies in the definition of what makes one wine better than another. It is one thing to make that definition explicit as suggested by John, but it would be impossible to get one that everybody would agree with.
To the extent that there is any agreement at all about what makes a good wine, the most common definition you hear these days is “one that has a sense of place”. What procedure would you use to measure that?