The debate over assigning scores to individual wines is nothing new, and it comes up regularly on wine blogs. Something I’ve recently encountered for the first time, though, is the idea of attempting to assign an objective, numerical score to an entire winery. Obviously Yelp has done this for years, but we’ve established that I consider Yelp to be useless at best. I’m referring here to wine bloggers using a scoring system, not for wines but for entire wineries. I’m always looking for ways that we can improve our little corner of the blogosphere, so I briefly considered it. Then I finished that sip of coffee and moved on.
Here’s why: we’re human. By our very nature, we seek shortcuts. Hey, we’re busy. Cut to the chase, give me the bottom line, and let’s move on. So when I realize that every post has a score at the bottom, how likely am I to read that post? Exactly. I’m scrolling down to see how many unicorns you gave the winery in question and moving on.
So what is that score quantifying? We’ve discussed the fact that the winery experience is holistic. Our perceptions are shaped by the site, the facility, the service, and the wine. Which carries more weight? What did we think of each? How did that affect the score, and if we’re just ranking a winery on 1 to 6 unicorns, how does the reader know how that score was calculated?
Here’s an exercise: imagine, if you will, that Jim Law of Linden Vineyards was a massive collector of Japanese kitsch. So now imagine that the wines are still the same, but you walk through the door into a Hello Kitty-themed winery. Clearly the wines are at odds with the experience. How can you decide how many unicorns it gets? Here, I’ll set the scene for you. Think hard!
I also have a problem with scores or ratings because they’re too absolute. At one point someone threw out the idea of doing a post ranking the best wineries in Virginia, in order. No way. It’s like handing someone my music collection and asking them to rank the songs from best to worst. How can you compare Tchaikovsky, Charles Mingus, Slayer, and Kelly Clarkson to one another? Can’t be done. Or shouldn’t be done, if nothing else. So forget the unicorn-based scoring system. Let’s keep our unicorns where they belong (link may open with music, don’t get yourself fired). I’d rather take the time to describe our experience and let you judge (and weigh in via the comments, whether we’re right or wrong).
That’s just my opinion though. What do you think? Could it work, or is a more narrative approach the most helpful?
The Are Objective Ratings Systems for Wineries Useful? Or Even Possible? by Swirl, Sip, Snark, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.