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Why We Don't Publish Wine Scores

Simply put, they don't beget informed choices. Beyond the wine being good (and to tell you over and over is essentially blowing smoke up the proverbial), at Red Squirrel Wine we would rather suggest wines because of the stories they tell.

Scores alone can steer drinkers away from the unfamiliar, for instance, or prompt drinkers to disregard one gorgeous wine just because it is an 89-pointer in favour of another that was fortunate enough on a given day to be given 90 points by a given critic. They also artificially inflate prices, with an extra digit here or there at en primeur giving rise to a big pay rise pour le vigneron. Hence why certain vignerons will tailor tasting samples to judges' palates (and just because I am using French doesn't mean we're only talking about the French here). As for the fabled centurion's rating, alas, goodbye to drinking those wines for a while.

Plenty of research - scientific and anecdotal - demonstrates that the awarding of scores to wines can be haphazard. Moreover, it is a regrettable fact of the industry that bottle variation still exists. And if you believe in biodynamics, as many of our winemakers do, it is even possible for wines to taste different to us on different days of the lunar calendar.

This is not meant to traduce the practice of giving wines scores, or those who do the scoring. Many are genuine experts in their field, performing an unenviable and tricky task. Furthermore, scores can serve a purpose in pointing time-starved shoppers towards certain good wines, and in the supermarket setting that is a far more honest way of steering your customers than deceitful discounting.

Scores can also be fun, and a means for voracious and/or professional tasters to compare and contrast across multiple wines, thus making an informed personal decision according to their taste buds. Caveat emptor, these scores are the progeny of one person. In contrast, we will occasionally advertise where a wine has won a competition medal, because these tend to be peer-reviewed trinkets rather than singular judgements.

So by all means etch away in a notebook your favourite wines according to one scoring system or another; and we aren't saying that scores should be abolished or their practitioners scorned. We just think they are more likely to detract from a wine's story than enhance it.

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