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NEW YORK May 2 Looking for a good bottle of
Merlot, Pinot Grigio or Bordeaux? Ratings by experts may help
narrow the choice but do they really make a difference?
Wine experts say the scores and descriptions they give a
vintage will differentiate a good bottle from a mediocre one but
in a recent study consumers who tasted fine Bordeaux rated the
wines lower than the experts.
"The consumer can look at it (the rating) and say, 'OK a
panel of experts has looked at this wine and evaluated it and I
know it won't be plonk,'" said Lisa Granik, who holds a Master
of Wine (MW), one of the highest standards of expertise in the
Wine experts, magazines and judges in competitions give wine
ratings, which are used as marketing tools by the vineyards.
Competitions charge a fee for each product entered in the
Granik, along with five other MWs and other wine experts,
spent three days last week tasting and rating 700 wines for the
Ultimate Wine Challenge, which gives ratings for wines that make
the grade ranging from good/recommended to
Doug Frost, another MW who took part in the challenge,
believes ratings offer reassurance to consumers about the
quality of the product.
"If not a third party endorsement then (if offers) at least
some measure of security that at least some people have tasted
this and at some point in the past have found it delicious," he
But Ed McCarthy, another judge and the author of "Champagne
for Dummies," said many good wines never enter competitions and
don't get rated.
"There are those that don't have the money and there are
those who don't need it and don't want it," he explained. "A
small winery isn't going to enter these things because they
don't make enough wine. And if you sell all your wine, you don't
The Ultimate Wine Challenge charges wineries $95 for each
product entered and ranks wines ranging in price from $6 to $235
For Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, another judge who has a MW,
context is important.
"If you are tasting mid-market Chardonnay, is it an
excellent quality one, or is it of poor quality?" she said.
But Omer Gokcekus, a professor of international economics at
Seton Hall University in New Jersey, has doubts about the value
In a study in which he asked consumers to rate fine Bordeaux
he found that they generally gave the wines lower ratings than
they received from U.S. wine critic Robert Parker or Wine
"Given MWs' comprehensive knowledge, a bottle of wine rated
by the MWs is, undoubtedly, not going to be plonk. However, that
doesn't necessarily mean that regular wine drinkers will like it
as much as the MWs do," Gokcekus said.
"There is even a possibility that they won't like it at
(Reporting by Leslie Gevirtz; editing by Patricia Reaney)