Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's not all subjective!

Early on in my wine drinking career, I was convinced that the evaluation of wine could be completely objective. I brandished Robert Parker's 100-point system like a golden cross. My good friend Liz argued vehemently that the evaluation of wine is completely subjective, and can't be reduced to anything as mathematical and clinical as scores. As I learned more about wine I realized she was partly right - it is impossible to remove the subjective element from wine tasting. On the other hand, there is objectivity to be found, as shown by the following diagram:

So, Liz, I'm not insane after all... at least not completely!


elisamerced said...

hmm, no comment about the insanity (or not), but I'll grant you some partial credit there!

Rajiv said...

Partial credit is always appreciated :)

Jeff said...

Hi, Rajiv-

Interesting premise. I've been giving this a great deal of thought recently- I make wine in Santa Barbara, and have had several conversations with friends about scoring in the past couple of weeks. Anyway, I submit that, rather than providing evidence of "objectivity", the graph simply indicates that the three critics selected merely share similar, subjective palate preferences. Which, given the recursive nature of the wine industry, makes sense: critics like a wine, give it high scores, people (winemakers included) drink it and feel they should like it, they start to make wine like it, and then they send their samples to the critics, furthering the cycle...

Anyway, nice blog.


Rajiv said...

Thanks, Jeff.

I would say that if multiple people can share a subjective experience, that experience has some measure of objectivity.

In other words, if multiple people perceive similar things in a wine, there must be something in the wine to percieve.

Whether or not a critic likes the wine is partly subjective, but it is also partly objective.