Monday, November 9, 2009

The HoseMaster Scale

I am guilty of complaining about rating wine on the 100 point scale, but I do recognize the usefulness of the rating system. The folks of the Religious Right rant and rave about the erosion of the moral fiber of this country, but often get caught recognizing the usefulness of adultery and prostitutes. Same thing. But I feel guilty that I only complain about the 100 point scale and don't present a better alternative. I believe I have solved that problem, and without the use of prostitutes (sadly, unlike countless stupid wineries, hookers do not provide free samples for bloggers).

Aside from the philosophical complaint that assigning a number to a wine is giving an objective value to a subjective opinion, which I am willing to disregard because philosophy is even stupider than wine reviews, I have always hated the fact that in the course of a year a publication like Wine Spectator assigns hundreds and hundreds of wines, say, 89 points. Nothing wrong with 89 points. Like most of you, I really enjoy kissing my sister, though it's annoying when Mom tries to break us up with cold water. But can it really be true that their critics liked those hundreds of wines exactly the same? That there is absolutely (and numbers are absolutes) no qualitative difference between all of them? That the $150, 89 point Cabernet from Silver Oak is exactly the same quality as the 89 point, $20 bottle of Penfold's 10W/40? If it is, that's fine. But it is hard to swallow. (OK, so we're back to the hookers again.)

So it occurred to me that the problem isn't assigning numbers to wine, the problem is we're not using enough numbers! 100 points is peanuts in this runaway inflationary era. To reduce the scale to 10 points, like that potted plant Alder Yarrow, is exactly wrong. Parker has said that he modeled it after the scale we are all familiar with from our days in school. Isn't that a telling remark? We're all just a bunch of half-wit students sitting at the knee of an oh-so-wise wine critic, taking copious notes, and trying to imagine what it's like to be so smart! To be able to grade wines so quickly and accurately. How will we ever graduate and become teachers too?! So the 100 point scale isn't only wrongheaded, it's insulting. But, in my view, not insulting enough.

I have created the HoseMaster Scale of 1,000,000 Points! That's right, the Million Point Scale. And here is the best feature of my Million Point Scale--no two wines will ever receive the same
score! And, here's another unique feature, my Million Point Scale starts at 1! That's right. I have had a wine that scored 7 on the Million Point Scale--I believe it was a Nichelini Zinfandel, but I'd have to look it up. And it's impossible for me, or any critic, to rate a million wines, so each wine will have its own unique number! Readers will know exactly where each wine falls with respect to every other wine I've scored. So, if I'd used the HoseMaster Scale on the wines I've previous reviewed on my outrageously popular "What's the HoseMaster Drinking?" segments and scored, say, the Benovia Pinot Noir 356,875 points (not the actual score) and the Allemand Cornas 356,877 points (again, not the actual score), the reader would know that I liked them about the same, but preferred the Cornas! It's brilliant, and, pay attention here wineries, it's incomparable marketing material. Think of the shelf talkers! "Murphy-Goode 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon--107,452 Points!!!" Even crappy scores sound great. This is the shot in the arm our struggling industry needs.

She's got her own HoseMaster Million Point Scale!

I know it will take time, but I believe that eventually every reputable critic and publication will adopt the HoseMaster Million Point Scale. There's no reason not to. Will there ever be a wine that rates 1,000,000 points? Not on my watch! I hereby swear on Robert Parker's grave that I will never award a wine more than 995,000 points. A score above that sends the wrong message, I think. Nothing is that close to perfection. I mean, come on, it's a scale, no sense getting carried away.


Jeff said...

Without a doubt, the funniest scoring system that I have seen besides the Dirty South one. Keep it up. Your site is hilarious.

Samantha Dugan said...

Dude, this is getting scary, I actually think this and You are brilliant! Is there like ward I should be checking into or something?

Anonymous said...

If you're going to use a Million Point scoring system, you will make others "Point(s)Less."
But then, I've long viewed the Yarrow Ten Point system as "Worth Less" and Parker and The Shanken-o-meter are "Use Less."
Some clever fellows at a Costic + store once built a display they called "The 90 Point Club." They displayed wines they needed to "move" or "unload" and did so without tasting notes or actual scores from the numerous journals/web sites/periodicals. Simply "The 90 Point Club." They sold a lot of wine under the guise of these actually being good wines.

But, of course, many 90+ point wines are undrinkable anyway, so what's the difference?



Ron Washam, HMW said...


Thanks, man, but flattering me in the same breath as that knucklehead Hardy Wallace is hardly the way to go around here. Or were you trying to insult me? Either way, welcome, and please comment more often.

My Gorgeous Samantha,

Well, gosh, now you've made me blush. And, yes, definitely, agreeing with me is a cry for help.
I'll be right there.

Anonymous 1,

Maybe Wilfred Wong will start the 900,000 Point Club at BevMo. Or get two 450,000 point wines for the price of one plus a nickel. Which is the worth of Wilfred Wong's ratings.

Jeff said...

Haha...sorry didn't mean to offend. He just had a humorous take on ratings too, so it was the most immediately comparable in my head. Of course, he's serious about points, and you're being sarcastic. Personally, I think points are bullshit. I had a great wine last night (dry Pedro Ximinez from Chile), Googled it and found it got an 86 in WS. WTF? I think points are bunk too. Keep fighting good fight and writing the pulp fiction.

Samantha Dugan said...

Well shit, had I known all it took to get you down here was to admit my lunacy I would have done it months ago...

Puff Daddy said...

I am in love with the million-points of light rating system.

But, I already see some problems with it. When Parker adopts it, and he will because it is so brilliant, he will soon discover that he wants to rate several wines at one million and will therefore start using subscripts. Along about that time, Jay Miller will start rating all wines from Chile at 999,998 to 999,992 and we will be no better off.

You see, the problem is that every system will get corrupted sooner or later by grade inflation. You can say that you will never duplicate ratings, but you can't stop those who see grade inflation as a way of inflating their own importance from corrupting the system.

A very good friend of mine tried to write a newsletter for folks like to cook Chinese food. Problem was he was white. And then, he and I started discussing a rating service for local Chinese restaurants using the ten chopstick system. It all broke down when we could not agree on whether his local take out was 8.17 chopsticks or 8.16.