Monday, October 12, 2009

Rant: Wine Scores--Stores vs Restaurants

At wine stores, it is often said that high scores sell more wine. This is probably true to some degree, and I do know and have met people who only buy wines which are highly rated. Despite lots of backlash and opposition to the 100-point score system, it remains the most popular system in the U.S., used by many wine stores all across the country. But is it really necessary?

In all the debate, I don't recall anyone comparing the situation of wine stores to restaurants. In both places, they want people to purchase wine. Yet they take very different positions in regards to wine scores. Very few restaurants post scores on their wine lists. Yet I have never heard complaints about that fact. Restaurant goers accept the lack of scores, relying on either their own knowledge of wine, or asking the restaurant staff, such as the sommelier.

Without posting scores, I assume restaurants can and do sell wines that may not have been highly rated by wine critics, but which are still very good wines. And customers may purchase wines at restaurants that they might not have done if they knew the scores. Yet they were probably happy with their choice.

So if restaurants are able to resist using wine scores, why can't more wine stores do the same, and eliminate scores from their shelf talkers? Why can't their customers rely on their own wine knowledge or the knowledge of the wine store employees?

Is a wine store really so different from a restaurant?

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