Monday, November 19, 2007

The People Magazine of the Wine World

(above: mob starts to get ugly waiting for their local wine shop to open in hopes of snagging something, anything, a crumb, from the 2007 Wine Spectator top 100 wine list)

There’s a link over at Wine Life Today to an article by Mark Fisher in the November 13, 2007 edition of the Dayton Daily News entitled, “Vanity, thy name is Wine Spectator.” Please take a look at the article. Basically, Mr. Fisher is critical of all the hoopla surrounding the WS unveiling of the 2007 Top 100 wines and asks the readers if anyone really cares.

Personally, I don’t even read the WS. I used to subscribe but never placed much reliance on any of their reviews.

But do people care? Yes, I think so. Wine merchants, in particular, probably care very much if they happen to stock any of the 100 wines that made the chart. I’ve been reading the Chowhound post about the list and people are reporting how the prices of wines in the top ten have skyrocketed. And before the announcements, speculation drove the prices up on wines thought to have the best chance of making the list. Sort of like the stock market, when prices jump up in anticipation of a favorable earnings report.

A lot of people stand to benefit from the release of the top 100 list.

There are the trophy hunters, either those rushing out to bag the wines after the announcement, or those trumpeting their foresight in already purchasing and possessing said wines.

We all know how numbers-crazy people get, so the WS is just another vehicle to unload a whole bunch of wine to consumers either scrambling for whatever is on the list, or to provide the push to get someone to buy it. Retailers love it.

And the WS knows exactly what they are doing and smiling all the way to the bank. Smart move on their part!

But for the serious wine buff, does this make a difference? Only for the fun it creates in trying to guess what’s going to appear on the list (like the chill out it’s only a list with some numbers contest over at Domaine547 which I thought was great – please check it out). Otherwise, though, the true wine enthusiast will have long ago already sought the truly outstanding wines whether or not they wind up on the list – he or she doesn’t need the WS to tell them what is good or what isn’t. There’s much better sources out there for that, not just other reviewers like Robert Parker or Burghound or countless others who are more reliable than WS including the many bloggers out there, but just as, if not more importantly, the trusted wine merchant.

The Wine Spectator and the pomp and circumstance surrounding the top 100 makes them the People Magazine of the wine world. But they know that already. And like I said, they’re smiling all the way to the bank.

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