Or, what Happens when 26 Million People Vote for Best Wines
Vivino just published its 2018 Wine Style Awards which it describes as “the only awards within the industry wholly decided by the public.”
Here is how it works: “Over 26 million wine lovers from around the world have chosen the 1,490 winning wines, that span 149 wine style categories, by rating them on Vivino over the past 12 months.”
The full winners can be viewed at www.vivino.com/awards.
Vivino founder and CEO, Heini Zachariassen, commented:
“The Vivino Wine Style Awards showcase the democratization of the wine world, by putting the power into the people’s hands.”
“Through our 26-million strong community, we’re not only able to deduce which are the best wines in the world, but also a host of other interesting wine trends…”
If you don’t know much about vivino, see my review at www.bestonlinewineshopping.com which is generally favorable.
Vivino is certainly one of the most dynamic online wine sites.
A few business articles have suggested it is trying to become the Amazon of the wine world. No harm in trying.
But let’s try to figure out what this list is and whether it has any real value to consumers or the wine trade. Is this a list of “the best wines in the world” or simply the “most popular” to vivino’s subscribers? Or are they one and the same?
Having read through all 1,490 wines listed, I came away thinking it is primarily a re-listing of the most famous, most expensive wines in the world.
With few exceptions. This is especially true of all French and most Italian and Spanish categories. But also of California. And Argentina led by high-end wineries such as Via Cobos and Catena.
I was hoping for some exciting trends to emerge, breakaway producers, dozens of new wineries pushing the old guard aside. But this was not the case. Instead you get all the oldies from Antinori to Petrus to Chateau d’ YQuem with only minor shuffling within categories.
I’m not opposed to ratings from the wine community, consisting of people with widely different levels of expertise. I’m supportive of anything that might be more useful than the 100 point system.
Posting notes and comments empowers some people and makes wine tasting fun. It also forces them to focus on the wine and to develop a vocabulary to support their opinions.
Best of all, it frees wine lovers from relying on ratings from any and all professional critics.
So why didn’t this concept of “putting the power into the people’s hands” yield some amazing newsworthy or at least some totally new stuff?
Too many categories? Too many reviewers? Something clearly did not click when the top White Rioja is one from 1986 priced at $899.99 and when the best Amarone will cost you $546 a pop.
And for one more example: the best northern Italian white is the 2011 Gaja Chardonnay at $241 a bottle!
Maybe the answer lies buried in the French Burgundy categories. One has to wonder did 194 Vivino members taste and review the 2006 DRC “La Tache?
And did 127 taste the 2012 La Romanee which retails for $14,962?
So how does any of this high priced stuff, to quote from the press release “help producers better understand consumer behavior and demand”?
The news release mentions the inclusion of Tannat from Uruguay and the growing interest in Cremant as a sparkling choice. Both wines consumers should know better.
The ten best New Zealand Pinot Noir list is excellent with several newcomers to join oldtimerFelton Road. Also found some excitement in the Chilean Malbec list and in the Spanish Syrah list.
In the various California categories, it was newsworthy to see such solid names as Frank Family, Rombauer, and Cakebread continue to be recognized.
And, yes there were a few new names such as Garguilo for its Cabernets, Robert Lloyd for Chardonnay and Arkenstone for Sauvignon Blanc. They google very well.
So what is the takeaway after studying this list of “The Year’s Best wines chosen by 26 million people?
One idea that keeps coming back is that since one assumes these amateurs actually bought the wines with their own money,
It is normal to want to love the most expensive wine. Especially if you bought it.
Who wants to shell to out $795 for the Harlan Estate or $1,4962 for the DRC only to admit to friends and family that the wine really wasn’t that great? And then rate them both 3 out of 5.
Not gonna happen!
Nor am I going to slip in a comment about the occasional failure of the democratic process to come up with the best.
It is an imperfect system.