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I don't subscribe but the latest issue of the Journal of Wine Economics (Vol. 3, No. 2) just released( has a worrying report, worrying for both the integrity of wine judges and for the drinker who relies on such expertise -

The lead article is by Robert T. Hodgson, who analyzes the reliability of wine judges at a major California Wine Fair. “Each panel of four expert judges received a flight of 30 wines imbedded with triplicate samples poured from the same bottle. Between 65 and 70 judges were tested each year. About 10 percent of the judges were able to replicate their score within a single medal group…. ” That is, 90% of the judges were not able to replicate their wine assessment within one medal group. In fact, 80% of the judges scored the same wine ranging from Gold to no medal. The full article can be accessed free of charge as a PDF.

Wines & Vines has just published a background article

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Comment by Enrique López on January 30, 2009 at 3:42am
Interesting article, and whether you subscribe or not you have to admit that the process of data gathering and analysis is pretty good. Personally I am not surprised, I can expect consistency out of something that can be measured following well defined patterns, but not when dealing with matters of taste!! even when the taster is the same. The article also mentions other interesting piece of information, mainly that consumers are not really impressed by medals, maybe because they cannot relate either to the wine contests or the judges or both. Wine is like any other consumer product, quality is very important indeed, but also how you reach and connect with your customer, and in a world where thousands of brands co-exist and with very little to contribute, medals and wine guides are naturally in high demand. At the end of day in most cases, it is the trusted advice of the friendly guy/girl at the wineshop down the street that wins the day, and according to my experience I dont think he/she is impressed by medals either.


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