Go to any store that sells wine and you are likely to see little ratings/tasting note stickers next to their price tag.
The goal is to try and entice you to buy that particular wine because a wine publication or writer gave it a number score.
There's plenty of debate about the usefulness of such a rating system, and whether or not it is good for the industry.
The Wall Street Journal's Lettie Teague wrote a great piece about grades handed out to wines, how some of the world's top publications come up with their scores, what they mean and if it does, in fact, pump up sales.
From my own experience, I have to say that sometimes a rating score sticker can settle a tie. In baseball, there's an old adage that, "tie goes to the runner." I'm willing to bet, especially with myself, that, "tie goes to the sticker score."
I try to take a lot of factors into account in order to decide what wine I'm going to purchase on any given day.
For one thing, I tend to branch out. If I've had a certain Pinot Noir, or Sauvignon Blanc, then I may lean towards the one I haven't had yet. Also, price point does matter. If I feel I can land a great wine for a bit of a lower price, I'll take it.
But sometimes, I'm extremely indecisive and must rely to a sticker score.
As an example, I walk into the wine section of a store. I'm in the mood for Cabernet Sauvignon. Once in that aisle, I find two wines. Wine A is from California, I've never tried it and costs $15.99. Wine B is from Washington State, I've also never tried it and costs $14.99.
Now Wine A doesn't have a sticker, but typical tasting notes on the label. Wine B, however, has similar tasting notes and a publication rated it a "90". Should I feel rushed by my wife and kid to move it along in the store, and really can't spend all day in the aisle, I'm grabbing Wine B.
What's my line of thinking? While Wine A could be every bit as good, and possible better than Wine B, the distributor slapped that score sticker up there which touts the fact that some writer I've never heard of believed it was worth a "90", while no one can pile on to the case of Wine A.
Is that the best and most trustworthy way to decide between two bottles of wine, which quite possibly could be exactly the same in quality, or risk the idea of regretting my purchase later on? No. But I'm human, plus I've got stuff to do.
My first instinct in talking to people about wine is to trust your pallet. That will never fail, whether someone else with a blog or column scores it a 100 or 70, you will enjoy the wine that you enjoy.
But I won't live in a "holier than thou" world where scores (which could be inflated) don't play a minor role in my wine buying decisions.
Let me know how you make the ultimate decision when it comes to buying your wine.