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  #1 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 07-09-2004, 04:46 AM
Vincent
 
Posts: n/a
Default Wine Spectator Reviewers: Are they honest, or on the take?

Some reviewers seem to be pretty consistent with their ratings, until they
review one of the "TOP" rated wines. Then their numbers change
significantly. Are they tasting blind? Why do they hand out a 100 rating to
a wine they've also rated 85? Numbers go up & down, so it's not like the
wine is improving with time. And if individuals tastings can vary greatly,
why wouldn't 2nd & 3rd growth Bordeaux's fluctuate as wildly as first
growths? (I never see a smaller player "accidentally" receive a 100, whereas
a significant one can score in the 80's until someone realizes what they've
done and "corrects" it).

My impression (correct me if I'm wrong) is that at least the "JS" guy tastes
blind, but if he realizes that he's tasting a wine that is *supposed to* get
a high score, he will then "revise" that number. If so, why? Does he not
want to look like a fool by giving an '82 Mouton a low score? Or is there
some marketing pressure for a high score?

Just something I sometimes wonder about while lying awake late at night....

\/

WS Scores for 1982 Mouton-Rothschild

Review: Jun, 1986; Sco 85
Review: May, 1991; Sco 93 (PM)
Review: Aug, 1992; Sco 95 (JS)
Review: Jul, 1997; Sco 100 (PM)
Review: Nov, 1998; Sco 98 (JS)
Review: Jun, 2001; Sco 98 (JS)



  #2 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 07-09-2004, 04:25 PM
Hunt
 
Posts: n/a
Default

In article , [email protected]
com says...

Some reviewers seem to be pretty consistent with their ratings, until they
review one of the "TOP" rated wines. Then their numbers change
significantly. Are they tasting blind? Why do they hand out a 100 rating to
a wine they've also rated 85? Numbers go up & down, so it's not like the
wine is improving with time. And if individuals tastings can vary greatly,
why wouldn't 2nd & 3rd growth Bordeaux's fluctuate as wildly as first
growths? (I never see a smaller player "accidentally" receive a 100, whereas
a significant one can score in the 80's until someone realizes what they've
done and "corrects" it).

My impression (correct me if I'm wrong) is that at least the "JS" guy tastes
blind, but if he realizes that he's tasting a wine that is *supposed to* get
a high score, he will then "revise" that number. If so, why? Does he not
want to look like a fool by giving an '82 Mouton a low score? Or is there
some marketing pressure for a high score?

Just something I sometimes wonder about while lying awake late at night....

\/

WS Scores for 1982 Mouton-Rothschild

Review: Jun, 1986; Sco 85
Review: May, 1991; Sco 93 (PM)
Review: Aug, 1992; Sco 95 (JS)
Review: Jul, 1997; Sco 100 (PM)
Review: Nov, 1998; Sco 98 (JS)
Review: Jun, 2001; Sco 98 (JS)


With the cited instance, I'd speculate that the scores reflected the tastings
done at the time. Picking a very young wine and devining its ability to mature
into a great one over time, is akin to alchemy. Some have an uncanny ability
to delve into the future, but I doubt most do, even amongst professional
tasters. Bottle variation, and many other aspects along the road to maturity
can effect the wine too.

With the extreme pressure to rate the wines, without benefit of marketing,
advertising $'s, or even public opinion, I'd side with the WS tasters to do
the best that they can. I may be wrong in this assessment of their situation,
but I think that a scandal within their publication would totally undermine
their advertising revenue.

All stated IMHO,
Hunt

  #3 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 07-09-2004, 04:25 PM
Hunt
 
Posts: n/a
Default

In article , [email protected]
com says...

Some reviewers seem to be pretty consistent with their ratings, until they
review one of the "TOP" rated wines. Then their numbers change
significantly. Are they tasting blind? Why do they hand out a 100 rating to
a wine they've also rated 85? Numbers go up & down, so it's not like the
wine is improving with time. And if individuals tastings can vary greatly,
why wouldn't 2nd & 3rd growth Bordeaux's fluctuate as wildly as first
growths? (I never see a smaller player "accidentally" receive a 100, whereas
a significant one can score in the 80's until someone realizes what they've
done and "corrects" it).

My impression (correct me if I'm wrong) is that at least the "JS" guy tastes
blind, but if he realizes that he's tasting a wine that is *supposed to* get
a high score, he will then "revise" that number. If so, why? Does he not
want to look like a fool by giving an '82 Mouton a low score? Or is there
some marketing pressure for a high score?

Just something I sometimes wonder about while lying awake late at night....

\/

WS Scores for 1982 Mouton-Rothschild

Review: Jun, 1986; Sco 85
Review: May, 1991; Sco 93 (PM)
Review: Aug, 1992; Sco 95 (JS)
Review: Jul, 1997; Sco 100 (PM)
Review: Nov, 1998; Sco 98 (JS)
Review: Jun, 2001; Sco 98 (JS)


With the cited instance, I'd speculate that the scores reflected the tastings
done at the time. Picking a very young wine and devining its ability to mature
into a great one over time, is akin to alchemy. Some have an uncanny ability
to delve into the future, but I doubt most do, even amongst professional
tasters. Bottle variation, and many other aspects along the road to maturity
can effect the wine too.

With the extreme pressure to rate the wines, without benefit of marketing,
advertising $'s, or even public opinion, I'd side with the WS tasters to do
the best that they can. I may be wrong in this assessment of their situation,
but I think that a scandal within their publication would totally undermine
their advertising revenue.

All stated IMHO,
Hunt

  #4 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 08-09-2004, 03:43 AM
jeffc
 
Posts: n/a
Default


"Hunt" wrote in message
...

With the extreme pressure to rate the wines, without benefit of marketing,
advertising $'s, or even public opinion, I'd side with the WS tasters to

do
the best that they can. I may be wrong in this assessment of their

situation,
but I think that a scandal within their publication would totally

undermine
their advertising revenue.


Actually, I doubt it would be a "scandal", and anyway I'm sure the
advertisers love having their wines rated highly.


  #5 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 08-09-2004, 03:43 AM
jeffc
 
Posts: n/a
Default


"Hunt" wrote in message
...

With the extreme pressure to rate the wines, without benefit of marketing,
advertising $'s, or even public opinion, I'd side with the WS tasters to

do
the best that they can. I may be wrong in this assessment of their

situation,
but I think that a scandal within their publication would totally

undermine
their advertising revenue.


Actually, I doubt it would be a "scandal", and anyway I'm sure the
advertisers love having their wines rated highly.




  #6 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 08-09-2004, 06:22 AM
hvpl
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Simply think "commercial reality". Advertisements generate income. Good
reviews generate advertisements. Have you ever read about the worst wines in
any tasting from any publication? I guess a 80-points is bad enough when the
winery expects 90-points! Any wine reported at below 70-points & you are
liable to be sued! When I want 95-points, I try to make an about 90-point
wine (high extraction, high alcohol, micro-oxy, whatever) & dangle an
attractive advertising budget. Do I get it?

That's commercial reality but readers/subscribers are lapping up all the
good stuff, not knowing better.

On the other hand, no one survives without pampering to those who are paying
.......... advertisers or subscribers.


"jeffc" wrote in message
m...

"Hunt" wrote in message
...

With the extreme pressure to rate the wines, without benefit of

marketing,
advertising $'s, or even public opinion, I'd side with the WS tasters to

do
the best that they can. I may be wrong in this assessment of their

situation,
but I think that a scandal within their publication would totally

undermine
their advertising revenue.


Actually, I doubt it would be a "scandal", and anyway I'm sure the
advertisers love having their wines rated highly.




  #7 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 08-09-2004, 06:22 AM
hvpl
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Simply think "commercial reality". Advertisements generate income. Good
reviews generate advertisements. Have you ever read about the worst wines in
any tasting from any publication? I guess a 80-points is bad enough when the
winery expects 90-points! Any wine reported at below 70-points & you are
liable to be sued! When I want 95-points, I try to make an about 90-point
wine (high extraction, high alcohol, micro-oxy, whatever) & dangle an
attractive advertising budget. Do I get it?

That's commercial reality but readers/subscribers are lapping up all the
good stuff, not knowing better.

On the other hand, no one survives without pampering to those who are paying
.......... advertisers or subscribers.


"jeffc" wrote in message
m...

"Hunt" wrote in message
...

With the extreme pressure to rate the wines, without benefit of

marketing,
advertising $'s, or even public opinion, I'd side with the WS tasters to

do
the best that they can. I may be wrong in this assessment of their

situation,
but I think that a scandal within their publication would totally

undermine
their advertising revenue.


Actually, I doubt it would be a "scandal", and anyway I'm sure the
advertisers love having their wines rated highly.




  #8 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 08-09-2004, 02:03 PM
Dale Williams
 
Posts: n/a
Default

This comes up periodically. I'm no fan of WS. I don't like panel tastings (no
one to "calibrate" to), I don't think that Suckling or Mansson (sp?) match my
tastes very well, etc. I don't subscribe, though I did in my more innocent
years, and have long list of
problems I could name with the "Speculator". But while I've often heard the
complaint that they trade points for ads, I've never seen anyone try and really
analyze it, except Jon Reuter.

Jon, a poster on WCWN who is apparently a statistician(he was a
frequent and respected poster who has no apparent connection to WS) posted this
a couple years ago:

"I've actually done a fairly technical (and therefore boring) review of WS
advertising and ratings (using WA ratings as a sort of control group) and found
only a slight bias at WS. For the majority of wines, the WS and WA ratings are
statistically indistiguishable. However, it does appear that WS is more likely
to retaste wines from advertisers and that these wines as a group benefit from
being retasted (to the tune of 2-3 points). To put that effect in context
though, less than 5 percent of wines are retasted so the overall average bias
is quite small.

Furthermore, conditional on price, production, and actual WS rating, there does
not appear to be any bias in who receives the various awards. So the earlier
post by a former WSer claiming that advertising and awards are unrelated
appears to be dead on."

There was a disclaimer that he only did the analysis for US wines for a 3 year
period I believe.

Of course, an extended analysis AFTER a winery scores high would probably show
a bigger correlation, because if WS scored one's wine a 94 wouldn't you think
of advertising there to remind readers once that issue has passed?

Now, the entry level restaurant awards are another thing. Pretty much any
restaurant that pays the $100 fee gets an award (602 out of 763 first time
entrants according to their own website).


Dale

Dale Williams
Drop "damnspam" to reply
  #9 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 08-09-2004, 02:03 PM
Dale Williams
 
Posts: n/a
Default

This comes up periodically. I'm no fan of WS. I don't like panel tastings (no
one to "calibrate" to), I don't think that Suckling or Mansson (sp?) match my
tastes very well, etc. I don't subscribe, though I did in my more innocent
years, and have long list of
problems I could name with the "Speculator". But while I've often heard the
complaint that they trade points for ads, I've never seen anyone try and really
analyze it, except Jon Reuter.

Jon, a poster on WCWN who is apparently a statistician(he was a
frequent and respected poster who has no apparent connection to WS) posted this
a couple years ago:

"I've actually done a fairly technical (and therefore boring) review of WS
advertising and ratings (using WA ratings as a sort of control group) and found
only a slight bias at WS. For the majority of wines, the WS and WA ratings are
statistically indistiguishable. However, it does appear that WS is more likely
to retaste wines from advertisers and that these wines as a group benefit from
being retasted (to the tune of 2-3 points). To put that effect in context
though, less than 5 percent of wines are retasted so the overall average bias
is quite small.

Furthermore, conditional on price, production, and actual WS rating, there does
not appear to be any bias in who receives the various awards. So the earlier
post by a former WSer claiming that advertising and awards are unrelated
appears to be dead on."

There was a disclaimer that he only did the analysis for US wines for a 3 year
period I believe.

Of course, an extended analysis AFTER a winery scores high would probably show
a bigger correlation, because if WS scored one's wine a 94 wouldn't you think
of advertising there to remind readers once that issue has passed?

Now, the entry level restaurant awards are another thing. Pretty much any
restaurant that pays the $100 fee gets an award (602 out of 763 first time
entrants according to their own website).


Dale

Dale Williams
Drop "damnspam" to reply
  #10 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 08-09-2004, 04:54 PM
Bill Spohn
 
Posts: n/a
Default

I don't know if advertising affects ratings in the Wine Speculator, though I'd
be willing to believe it didn't, or if it did , only to the extent that the odd
bad review of a good advertiser was simply omitted rather than changed.

But more to the point, upon reflection I find that I don't really care whether
their reviews are truly independent or not. More important to me is the fact
that they reviews are often just not very good, and that there is little
consistency, with people that clearly have no experience or ability to assess a
particular style of wine penning gibberish and calling it a review.

Some of my favourite Italian wines used to be rated in the 70s by these twits
just because the guy writing the column apparently had zero experience with
traditional lean mean Italian wines that need years to come into focus.

I dropped my subscription to WS last year and haven't missed it a bit.


  #11 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 08-09-2004, 04:54 PM
Bill Spohn
 
Posts: n/a
Default

I don't know if advertising affects ratings in the Wine Speculator, though I'd
be willing to believe it didn't, or if it did , only to the extent that the odd
bad review of a good advertiser was simply omitted rather than changed.

But more to the point, upon reflection I find that I don't really care whether
their reviews are truly independent or not. More important to me is the fact
that they reviews are often just not very good, and that there is little
consistency, with people that clearly have no experience or ability to assess a
particular style of wine penning gibberish and calling it a review.

Some of my favourite Italian wines used to be rated in the 70s by these twits
just because the guy writing the column apparently had zero experience with
traditional lean mean Italian wines that need years to come into focus.

I dropped my subscription to WS last year and haven't missed it a bit.
  #12 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 08-09-2004, 05:19 PM
Hunt
 
Posts: n/a
Default

In article , [email protected]
comdamnspam says...

This comes up periodically. I'm no fan of WS. I don't like panel tastings (no
one to "calibrate" to), I don't think that Suckling or Mansson (sp?) match my
tastes very well, etc. I don't subscribe, though I did in my more innocent
years, and have long list of
problems I could name with the "Speculator". But while I've often heard the
complaint that they trade points for ads, I've never seen anyone try and

really
analyze it, except Jon Reuter.

Jon, a poster on WCWN who is apparently a statistician(he was a
frequent and respected poster who has no apparent connection to WS) posted

this
a couple years ago:

"I've actually done a fairly technical (and therefore boring) review of WS
advertising and ratings (using WA ratings as a sort of control group) and

found
only a slight bias at WS. For the majority of wines, the WS and WA ratings

are
statistically indistiguishable. However, it does appear that WS is more

likely
to retaste wines from advertisers and that these wines as a group benefit

from
being retasted (to the tune of 2-3 points). To put that effect in context
though, less than 5 percent of wines are retasted so the overall average bias
is quite small.

Furthermore, conditional on price, production, and actual WS rating, there

does
not appear to be any bias in who receives the various awards. So the earlier
post by a former WSer claiming that advertising and awards are unrelated
appears to be dead on."

There was a disclaimer that he only did the analysis for US wines for a 3

year
period I believe.

Of course, an extended analysis AFTER a winery scores high would probably

show
a bigger correlation, because if WS scored one's wine a 94 wouldn't you think
of advertising there to remind readers once that issue has passed?

Now, the entry level restaurant awards are another thing. Pretty much any
restaurant that pays the $100 fee gets an award (602 out of 763 first time
entrants according to their own website).


Dale

Dale Williams


Dale,

Thanks for taking the time to delve into the vaults for that piece. My general
assumption, based on memory, and glances at the ads (since I'm in advertising,
I cannot resist, though I'm usually being critical of the photo, the layout,
the typeface used... ) I do not recall a direct correlation between the wines
tasted and those most advertised - MOF, it almost seems the opposite. Now,
there are occasions where wine A will get "wine of the year," etc. and there
will be an ad in that edition also trumpeting that achievement, but that is
magazine advertising. If an architectural mag bestows an award to an
architect, chances are that firm/person will be contacted as soon as the award
is announced, and will then run an ad in the same edition. It should not be
assumed that BECAUSE of the ad, the award was given. It rarely is.

Now, with the restaurant awards... I have ALWAYS had bones to pick over those.
While some of the WS tasters (a few you mentioned) don't match MY tastes, I
have almost never agreed with the restaurant awards, until you get to the very
top, and then I still find some glaring faults.

Hunt

  #13 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 08-09-2004, 05:19 PM
Hunt
 
Posts: n/a
Default

In article , [email protected]
comdamnspam says...

This comes up periodically. I'm no fan of WS. I don't like panel tastings (no
one to "calibrate" to), I don't think that Suckling or Mansson (sp?) match my
tastes very well, etc. I don't subscribe, though I did in my more innocent
years, and have long list of
problems I could name with the "Speculator". But while I've often heard the
complaint that they trade points for ads, I've never seen anyone try and

really
analyze it, except Jon Reuter.

Jon, a poster on WCWN who is apparently a statistician(he was a
frequent and respected poster who has no apparent connection to WS) posted

this
a couple years ago:

"I've actually done a fairly technical (and therefore boring) review of WS
advertising and ratings (using WA ratings as a sort of control group) and

found
only a slight bias at WS. For the majority of wines, the WS and WA ratings

are
statistically indistiguishable. However, it does appear that WS is more

likely
to retaste wines from advertisers and that these wines as a group benefit

from
being retasted (to the tune of 2-3 points). To put that effect in context
though, less than 5 percent of wines are retasted so the overall average bias
is quite small.

Furthermore, conditional on price, production, and actual WS rating, there

does
not appear to be any bias in who receives the various awards. So the earlier
post by a former WSer claiming that advertising and awards are unrelated
appears to be dead on."

There was a disclaimer that he only did the analysis for US wines for a 3

year
period I believe.

Of course, an extended analysis AFTER a winery scores high would probably

show
a bigger correlation, because if WS scored one's wine a 94 wouldn't you think
of advertising there to remind readers once that issue has passed?

Now, the entry level restaurant awards are another thing. Pretty much any
restaurant that pays the $100 fee gets an award (602 out of 763 first time
entrants according to their own website).


Dale

Dale Williams


Dale,

Thanks for taking the time to delve into the vaults for that piece. My general
assumption, based on memory, and glances at the ads (since I'm in advertising,
I cannot resist, though I'm usually being critical of the photo, the layout,
the typeface used... ) I do not recall a direct correlation between the wines
tasted and those most advertised - MOF, it almost seems the opposite. Now,
there are occasions where wine A will get "wine of the year," etc. and there
will be an ad in that edition also trumpeting that achievement, but that is
magazine advertising. If an architectural mag bestows an award to an
architect, chances are that firm/person will be contacted as soon as the award
is announced, and will then run an ad in the same edition. It should not be
assumed that BECAUSE of the ad, the award was given. It rarely is.

Now, with the restaurant awards... I have ALWAYS had bones to pick over those.
While some of the WS tasters (a few you mentioned) don't match MY tastes, I
have almost never agreed with the restaurant awards, until you get to the very
top, and then I still find some glaring faults.

Hunt

  #14 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 08-09-2004, 09:18 PM
Xyzsch
 
Posts: n/a
Default

On the other hand, no one survives without pampering to those who are paying
......... advertisers or subscribers.


Robert Parker accepts no advertising or free bottles; he survives exclusively
on subscribers. But I don't see how subscribers would bias his results. So
whether you agre with Parkers palate or not, I can't see any bias here.

With the Wine Spectator, there is the possibility (unproven) that advertising
could affect their scores.

Tom Schellberg
  #15 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 08-09-2004, 09:18 PM
Xyzsch
 
Posts: n/a
Default

On the other hand, no one survives without pampering to those who are paying
......... advertisers or subscribers.


Robert Parker accepts no advertising or free bottles; he survives exclusively
on subscribers. But I don't see how subscribers would bias his results. So
whether you agre with Parkers palate or not, I can't see any bias here.

With the Wine Spectator, there is the possibility (unproven) that advertising
could affect their scores.

Tom Schellberg


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