Should we still believe in critics to choose our wine?
What is the purpose of wine criticism? In the age of social networks and internet users' opinions, professional critics are still holding out. Why is it still essential to guide you in your choices?
Would the critic as we have known it, with its thick and erudite bibles, its intimidating language, be from another world today? If all critics are not equal, wine criticism has not lost its relevance, on the contrary: the wine offer is more and more vast each year, while the purchase remains above all influenced by the comfort zone of the buyer, the design of the label and the price of the bottle. Real knowledge is too rarely a factor. Thus, less than 5% of wine consumers would be knowledgeable wine lovers, while the remaining 95% literally go on an adventure. This is a game of chance, which, although it has its share of surprises, both good and bad, sometimes prevents one from fully appreciating the immense diversity of the wine world.
Why deprive yourself of a wise advice?
When you think about it, criticism is a bit like Google Maps: it allows you to find real liquid treasures in a complex jungle of references. Even Salvador Dalí, a painter of genius, rightly concluded "Who knows how to taste never drinks wine again, but tastes secrets". Knowledge can then lead to happiness. If the intrinsic nature of our sensory universe means that a review is always subjective, this does not take away from its relevance.
The question remains as to what a good critic is. In short, he or she is a sort of Yoda Master of wine: fiercely independent, exploratory, open-minded, humble, endowed with an infinite thirst for learning and an extraordinary tasting expertise (he doesn't drink, but spits it out), all coupled with a deep knowledge of viticulture, winemaking, wine history, the men and women who grow and make wine, wine appellations, geography, geology, vintage quality, and much more. He knows how to decipher the tactile and aromatic architecture of the wine, its intrinsic quality, how to distinguish between a wine for thirst and a wine for aging, how to project the wine in time, and what place to give it in the qualitative hierarchy. All the while knowing how to share this in a clear and entertaining way.
It goes without saying that all this cannot be learned by improvising. And that's exactly what makes the difference between a simple user review and a professional recommendation. Especially since a real expert is able to detect, at a very early stage, the future potential of a wine for ageing, especially in the case of Bordeaux futures. Therefore, instead of succumbing to the sirens of social networks, it can be useful to invest in a good old guidebook and trust the specialized media, which can lead you to extraordinary discoveries. And don't forget that the digitalization of content allows for an ever-increasing reactivity, an ever-wider spectrum, likely to give wine criticism the place it deserves among the general public.