That way you won’t have such problems :-). I won’t rate in any way, I’ll just try to explain with words my opinion on the wine. So I won’t have to mess around with scales, equivalences, coherence between grades etc, etc...
This is the brilliant text Terry Theise wrote about Points in his 2003 German - Austrian - Champagne catalogues. It is particularly funny his comments on using the 100-point scale to assess literature. Very recommended reading!:
POINTS: WHAT’S THE POINT?
";I had a fascinating conversation with Pierre Rovani, who defended point-systems with compelling logic. ";Why isn’t it enough,"; I asked, ";to simply have groups, fair-good-very good- excellent-superb, and rank the wines in order of preference within those groups?"; ";Good question,"; answered Pierre. ";So what you’re proposing is a 5-point scale."; Ah ha! Hoist on my own petard.
My mistake was to debate the issue on the terms of the point defenders. Their logic is self-enforcing and circular. Critics have a responsibility to take a definite stand, and point scores force them to do so. No longer can they hide behind vague or nebulous language. The wine is an 88 and that’s all there is to it. Please read my prose too, they say, because that’s where I get to use all my flavor associations and groovy locutions, but the score’s the Mojo.
Wine is, after all, a consumer commodity, and as such it can be compared within its type. The role of the critic, in this ";Weltanschauung";, is to handicap the entrants and tell you who won the race and by how many lengths. It’s all very clear, and well-intentioned.
The logic isn’t so much false as incomplete. First, I am intuititevly quite certain that a point-system misleads in direct proportion to its affect of precision. We all know that wine is a moving target. Even industrial wine is a moving target. Why? Because WE are a moving target: we feel differently on different days, at different times of day, our bodies are changeable, our palates are changeable, the over-tart salad we ate at lunch will affect every wine we taste all afternoon, and it doesn’t matter how responsible we try to be; the moment we assign an ABSOLUTE value to a wine, we have misled. And the more specific we purport to be, the more we mislead.
And the consequences of training readers to consider wine in terms of how many ";points"; to ";give"; it are mischievous at best. Even if I yield the point that scores are a necessary evil-and I don’t, by the way- how many innocent consumers of wine journals are savvy enought to know that the WRITER may have to use points but the READER doesn’t? Sadly, the meta-message of point-obsessions is that ";scoring"; wines is the SINE QUA NON of wine appreciation.
Oh lighten up! I hear you say. What’s the harm?
The harm is suble because its symptoms appear benign, but the long term effects are pernicious.
(Continued on other post)
Here’s a quote I like:
";The aesthetic moment offers hope that we are less alone, we are more deeply inserted into existence that the course of a single life would lead us to believe."; (John Berger, from ";The White Bird";)
Wine, I submit, is just such an aesthetic moment. It doesn’t even have to be great wine. It only has to be significant wine, connected not to the factory but to the earth. Such wines invite us to respond with our souls. They open doors by which we enter a larger world than we normally inhabit.
All we need is to be AVAILABLE for the experience. We CANNOT be available if, in that single moment, we are scolling through our egos to see how many POINTS we’re going to ";give"; or ";award"; the wine. They very language is suspiciously pompous: ";We AWARDED Chateau Bleubols XXX-points on our 100-point scale."; That’s nice. How many points did the wine give YOU, Ace? Is the whole thing really about YOU? Does the cosmos give half a rat’s ass how many ";points"; you gave a wine? That wine was a GIFT to you. And all you can do is ";evaluate"; it as if it were a DVD player or a Dustbuster.
One gentleman with whom I debated this topic wrote (I’m paraphrasing) that he grew INTO using the 100-point scale when he felt his palate was mature enough. This poor lamb is running blindly toward the cliffs.
Ah, maybe he’s right. After all, I’ve been using the 100-point scale to assess literature ever since I turned forty. I give Molly Bloom’s solliliquy at least a 94. That ranks it among the great-literary-scenes-of-all-time, along with Stavrogin’s confession (95), Levin’s day with the threshers (97), Gerald’s walk to his death in the mountains (94+) and the death of Ben Gant (99). I didn’t used to give scores to great scenes in literature. But eventually I came to realize ALL pleasure was in effect a commodity and I OWED it to myself to quantify the little suckers. So now, when I read novels, I’m constantly thinking ";how many points is this scene worth?"; I judge on imagery, diction, overall rhetoric, whether it advances the plot-line and/or devolps characters, and finally, on how close to tears it brings me. Eyes-barely-moist gets 90. Eyes-barely-moist-and-catch-in-the-throat gets 91-92. Eyes full of tears but no drippage gets 93-94. Between 1-3 tears slipping down my face is 95-96, and full-bore blubbering earns the very highest scores. Since I started doing this I have just gotten so much MORE from all these great books!
";Was it good for you, baby....?"; Oh, 89 maybe 90.
Shall we eventually declare all our pleasures subject to a precise analysis of their EXTENT on an absolute scale? What’s 100-point joy all about? ";I cannot possibly feel happier than this!"; Really? HOW DO YOU KNOW?
Sure, we can let the critics play with any system they wish. I use in effect a 4-point system to indicate my sense of a wine’s ";stature";, but I deliberately leave it loose because I don’t want to THINK about it. It is a fraction-of-a-second of IGNITION: I register it and move on. I think reviewers might be better employed trying to DEEPEN our love of wine, but they do what they can and what their readers want and are trained to expect. Nor is this any sort of slam of the Great Man oof Monkton. I rather think Bob Parker has don the wine world enormous good over his storied career. But I also believe, as St. Peter open the pearly gates to admit Mr. Parker, he’ll peer through Bob’s valise, pull out the folder marker ";The 100-point Scale"; and say; ";I’LL JUST HOLD ON TO THIS; YOU WON’T BE NEEDING IT HERE.";
- Terry Theise