I don’t know if anyone else noticed, or cared, that in the most recent issue of Spectator did not use scores for the sake guide. I, obviously, liked this approach more than the numerical ratings used for wine. What do you think? Here’s part of my take:
“Instead of numerical scores, Marcus, along with Bruce Sanderson, blind tasted the sake and used descriptive categories (words, not points) to reflect how highly they regarded each sake relative to other sake in different categories. Does 92 points describe something that “outstanding” does not? Do you gain more information knowing a wine rates 88 points as opposed to “very good?” As the precise score of a wine varies palate to palate, I think categories are in fact more useful. I think the method was more effective at describing the sake than if they had used points, but I clearly am not an advocate of the 100-pt system. Is this a hint that Wine Spectator is moving away from numerical scores? If sake doesn’t need scores, then why does wine?”
Yup…I noticed that, too, ystrday as I read (well…skimmed…it was a pretty vapid issue I thought…no interest in sake) my copy. And, yeah, I was a
bit surprised that they didn’t put scores on them. But…since I pay pretty much zero interest in their tasting notes…I didn’t give it much mind.
Thomas Matthews commented on the post and basically said that they did not feel that they had the expertise to assign precise scores to sake. I actually liked seeing the broader categories to express their opinion of quality. I do the same thing… I do appreciate his honesty in his response.
Its just a number that represents an overall impression, no more, no less. If you take it for what its worth, it can be helpful in determining the degree to which the writer “enjoyed” the wine. To be honest, I get more annoyed with all the meaningless descriptors telling me that they can taste juniper, persimmons or wheat berries. Why would I care about that?
While I don’t subscribe to any publications, what I would be most interested in are the writers impression about balance and style. If a writer says its “fruit forward in a modern style”, 95 points, I know I probably will not enjoy it as much as if he said, “well balanced and elegant, 95 points.” That being said, if the writer uses the same “well balanced and elegant, 87 points”, I would at least be able to conclude that he “enjoyed” the first elegant wine more than the second, which may helpful to me as a consumer because over time I could see if our tastes calibrate.
I just don’t see any reason to get your panties in a bunch simply because a magazine choses to assign scores as part of its evaluation of wine. It can be helpful, even if its not definitive.
Vapid sums up all of their issues. I used airline miles for a year’s subscription and regret it. Almost unreadable barring Kramer’s column, which is getting more vapid by the issue. The mag is like one big ad for sponsors.
Wow, Kyle…a (very) rare admission by WS that they aren’t the be-all to end-all. Usually, I’ve found their responses
to such (perceived) criticism insufferable & arrogant. I appreciate such honesty as well. A rare crack in the WS’s armor of infallibility.
Well…I guess I wouldn’t agree w/ that, Peter. I’ve followed WS from the very start (back when it was a tabloid newspaper a la National Inquirer). Back then, it was loaded w/
interesting & informative articles (some of which I even wrote) and it was exciting when it showed up in my mailbox every month.
I, of course, no longer have that sense of excitement when it arrives. Like most wine publications anymore, they’re precious short on useful/informative
wine journalism and have become mostly page after page of tasting notes and scores. Most of the regular columnists in WS are pretty vapid, but Kramer
is easily the best of a sorry bunch…though I sense he’s struggling to come up w/ something to say every issue that will stir up any controversy. I sense he’s
feeling increasing irrelevant in the wine world. But I do have to give credit to the WS…they do include in every issue some real/honest-to-God wine journalism
articles that I find informative. The feature articles, written by the WS regular writers, proclaiming how the WS has just “discovered” GrenacheBlanc or AndersonVlly Pinot,
and patting themselves on the back for how this “discovery” will now set the world on fire…those, too, are pretty vapid. But every once in awhile there will come along
and article, usually written by a new or younger staff writer, that I’ll find interesting & informative. Rare…but it does happen. So I keep re-upping every year.
But those ads are very/very useful. Every few months…when it’s time for me to add another personal jet to my vast fleet…the WS is the first place I look.