Monday, February 14, 2011

Our Wine Review Philosophy

Readers may submit wine reviews or tastings in any format or style they wish. Our style of review is as follows.

1. No quantitative ratings. I think saying one wine is a 98 and another wine is a 94 is silly. A comment by a friend from France has resonated with me over the years. He said the wine ratings have done wine drinkers a tremendous service by rooting out low quality wines but they also imply that there is one way that wine should taste. Not all wines are supposed to be bold, oaky and full of tannins. There is no scale that fits all wines.

2. Fine wines in their own right. If a Georgian or Croatian wine is rated as Outstanding, it does not necessarily mean that it is as good as a Domaine Romanee-Conti. We judge the wines within their own realm. The wines are not compared across all the wines of the world.

3. No fancy, abstract flavors. I don't pretend to have the most educated palate but I can honestly say that I have never tasted tobacco in wine. I have seen wine reviews describe wines tasting of "pear", "poached pear" and "pear tart." Hmm, pear ... OK, it's a fruit. But can you really discern the difference between poached pear and pear tart in a bottle of Pinot Noir? One wine expert told me a certain wine tasted of "smoked plums." I've never eaten a smoked plum! Have you? I use words like crisp, fruity, buttery, flowery, strong, peppery, woody, etc. However, I pledge that we will not write, "... the wine's flavor reminded me of the boldness of roasted almonds yet with a hint of insouciance from its butterscotch overtones."

4. What to expect.

* Information on the wine - name, type, vintner, year, etc.
* Where I purchased or drank the wine - wine store, vineyard, restaurant, festival, etc.
* What I ate while tasting the wine
* Color/appearance
* Aroma/bouquet
* Taste
* Overall rating - Outstanding, Excellent, Very Good, Good, Drinkable, Drinkable Minus and "May I have a beer, please?"
* Price value (if applicable)

To see all of Black Sea Wines' reviews and tastings, click here.


  1. This is a very good review philosophy. One of the main objectives in reviewing is to allow your reader to understand the experience. Abstract terms usually do not help with the task.
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  2. Quantifiable or grade systems are acceptable for as long as they are accompanied by descriptive terms. Some people just trust numbers because they are more absolute.
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  3. The good thing about a number grade system is that they are absolute. Descriptive experiences are relative, but then again, taste is also relative.
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