You Like Tomato and I Like Tomahto

ella and louis.jpg

You like potato and I like potahto

You like tomato and I like tomahto

Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto

You say 92 points and I say 92 points

A tomato is a tomato no matter how you say it, but it doesn't matter how you pronounce 92 points - your 92 and my 92 are not the same things. Let's call the whole thing off?

Unfortunately, we can’t call off the 100 point wine rating system at this point. It’s now too entwined in the marketing system to simply go away any more. Without a doubt it has done some good things, but overall it has been far more damaging to the cause of balanced, retrained wines to justify the few good things it has accomplished. In all honestly, we all would have to admit, those good things would have probably happened anyway.

When it comes to giving wines a number rating it’s all to true that my tomato and your tomahto can have little or nothing to do with each other. Then there is the simple scientific fact that humans are not perfectly calibrated wine rating machines. Your tomato one day can easily become a tomahto the next day depending at such basic variables as mood, weather, time of day and the wine you tasted just before all have a measurable impact on the ratings we give wines. Anyone who believes that they can reliably taste and give accurate number ratings to hundreds of wines over a few days is not only lying to themselves. That is if you choose to believe the scientists who have proven over and over again that humans do not possess the the tools required to accomplish such feats. I wonder if the people that deny such clear scientific facts are also climate change disbelievers?

So why do people like me, who think the 100 scale is a bunch of hooey, pump out those scores to the market when we get them? I think for most wineries there’s a sense of desperation in the hyper-competitive wine market we live in today. Do we feel a bit dirty after sending out a press release pimping some 90+ point rating? Of course we do. However, as long as we stick to our ethical guns when it comes to winemaking, I hope we can be forgiven this moral shortcoming in our marketing. The sad truth is that the wine industry itself is more to blame for the proliferation of the 100 point scale than the media people that conceived it. It was our hammering away with shelf-talkers, case cards and advertisements that truly popularized the 100 point system to begin with.

So the next time you get a press release from me touting some score, please forgive me for I am weak. No matter if it’s a tomato or a tomahto you’ve got to find a way to sell it. In my heart I always believe once I get someone to taste our wines I’ll have a new customer. If I have to get down in the pointy mud once in awhile to accomplish that I’m willing to do it. A simple case of the ends justifying the means. As long as I’ve put my heart and soul into the wine itself I can still sleep well at night.

I can’t wait until we find a way to call the whole thing off.