Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Rich Prick Wants a Lower Score

Dear Ms. Erin Brooks,

In the most recent issue of Wine Advocate you rated my estate Pinot Noir 97+. Thank you, but that’s a stupidly high score. I don’t want a score that high. Is there any way you can lower it? If I want an inflated score for my wine, I’ll buy one from James Suckling like everybody else.

While I’m thinking about it, what the hell is the “+” for? I don’t want the 97, so I sure as hell don’t want the “+.” I don’t even know what that means! You’re the damn critic. Is it a 97 or isn’t it? You think maybe my Prick Family Vineyard Pinot Noir is better than 97? MAYBE? MAYBE? You’re using cold, hard, objective numbers to rate wine. Critics claim their numbers have value and meaning. Where does MAYBE come in? “MAYBE I underrated it?” Now you’re feeling insecure? You put it in your mouth, swill it around, call on your decade of unaccredited expertise, pronounce it, “97,” and then you think, “Oh, it might be better than that.” Then give it 98, fer Chrissake! You’re assigning numbers, Ms. Brooks. “+” is NOT a number. It’s a symbol. I have a few more suggestions for your scoring system:

    97#—It might do better on Twitter
    97:—I may have smelled butt
    97&—It seems like it was grown in ampersandy soils
    97…—Bob Parker just likes us to throw in an ellipse now and then.

See how stupid that is? Stupid+.

I’m certain that most winemakers write to you to complain about their lousy scores, or to gush over you for having the talent and wisdom to see that their wine is, indeed, a near perfect 98. Trust me, Ms. Brooks, most of these winemakers have IQ’s that are a perfect 100. When I submitted my Pinot Noir for your consideration, I was hoping for a more realistic score. Believe me, I’ve tasted a lot of great wines in my life, and that Pinot Noir is by any measure about a 90. That’s all I wanted. A lousy, stinkin’ 90! 97+ is a terrible score. I don’t want it! Please, lower it. Would it help if I told you I added raspberry Jell-O to the fining agent? Yeah, I know, like I’m the only one.

The problem is, you’ve raised expectations for my wines going forward. It’s like listing my penis size as 11 inches on Tinder. Wait, as 11+ inches on Tinder. I can’t live up to those expectations! Yes, that will come as a huge relief to my date, but it’s really embarrassing to me. She’s expecting a big mouthful of Pinot and I end up with a lot of explaining to do when it’s tired and thin. No one is happy. Now, if you’d given my wine a 90, bang!, I over-deliver. I’m a hero. Like if you’d said I was hung like a travel blogger! That I can live up to, with an extra testicle thrown in.

Wine critics often say that wine scores aren’t inflated these days, it’s just that wines are better now than they’ve ever been! Bite me. Let’s say that’s true. I don’t think it is, but let’s just say that’s true. Then why don’t you wine critics get together and raise the goddam standards? Look, it wasn’t long ago that gymnastics judges began giving out perfect 10’s in the Olympics, and other international competitions. Notice how they don’t do that anymore? Why? Because they raised their standards to account for how much better gymnasts are these days! They stunt gymnasts’ growth at a much earlier age now. You gotta love science. How else can we get mutant athletes to perform for us but with high-tech drugs? Anyway, my point is, why don’t wine critics decide that 90 is the new 100? The 100 point wines of 30 years ago just wouldn’t make it in today’s world as 100 point wines. Can we just raise our standards? I’m volunteering to begin the process by taking a 10% cut in my score. I’ll bet you an awful lot of wineries would volunteer to do the same.

You’re probably too young to remember when 90 meant something. It doesn’t mean diddly-squat any longer. It’s sad to see 90 fall into irrelevance. It’s the Brian Williams of wine scores. No one gives a shit about 90. 90 is second runner-up in the Miss Leprosy pageant. Yet 90 out of 100 is amazing! People get MWs for lower scores. You’re young, Ms. Brooks, and you’re the future of wine criticism. Wine scores are the next Venezuela. Hyperinflated and run by tyrants. Maybe you can do something about it. Though I’m guessing it’s too late.

Rich Prick
Prick Family Vineyards


Tom In Real Life said...

What a nice surprise on a Wednesday night. Wife out of town or was this just a moment of inspired madness? :-)

Bob Rossi said...

Great as usual. And I especially liked this: " If I want an inflated score for my wine, I’ll buy one from James Suckling like everybody else."

Unknown said...

Please inform Mr. Prick that it could have been worse. He could have received a 100-100 point score(s) from the honorable J-Suck.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I don't hit publish as soon as I write a piece. I put one together, then I leave it alone for a few days, and finally I re-read (perhaps make a few changes, though not often) and if I like it, I put it up. There was a time I always published on Monday and Thursday mornings. I began to hate that routine, so now I just do it when the mood strikes. Nothing to do with my beautiful wife. Though if she were out of town I'd be too busy with all my glamorous and desirable groupies to publish.

Thanks. I once asked Lisa Perrotti-Brown if anyone had ever complained about a score being too high in the Wine Advocate, and that apparently banged around in my twisted brain for a few months until this appeared. By the way, Lisa may be the one person around who gets more hate mail than I do, only she doesn't deserve it.

Getting 100 points from Suckling is like getting a James Beard Award. You're suddenly in a very large club, and no one cares.

Bob Rossi said...

"Getting 100 points from Suckling is like getting a James Beard Award. You're suddenly in a very large club, and no one cares."
That's very funny, and appropriate. Every year, the press in the city where I live (Portland, Maine) publishes a story about who in Maine is a James Beard semifinalist. This is later followed by a story about who is a finalist. Then, when the winners are announced, there's often a Maine winner in a category I didn't even know existed.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

A very lovely writer friend of mine was bemoaning the fact that Madeline Puckette had won a Beard Award. (I don't even know if she did.) This was discouraging to her. I assured her that it was actually iron-clad proof of the award's irrelevance.

I don't know anyone who cares about a Beard Award anymore. And, beyond that, awards are always and forever about the ones giving the award, not the ones receiving them. As are wine scores, by the way.

Cougar Wine said...

This was a very creative write-up. Gives cause to stop and ponder and that is always a good thing. My only criticism was I felt the profanity and minor vulgarities may have been a little too much, i.e. G.. D...;penal references, etc. A little too much Barroomish.

Unknown said...

Hey Hosemaster
Have you ever analyzed grape prices? Today you can buy a ton of Cab from a fru-fru Napa producer for $10000/ton. Paso Robles Cab for $1500-2000/ton. Paso is where the major wineries go for top quality fruit at rock-bottom prices - which they have purposely forced low to pad the bottom line. So just remember, when you buy that $400 bottle of Napa Cab, labelling laws allow at least 25% to be something else - probably from Paso. Good job, Napa.

Charlie Olken said...

The late and great Jerry Mead was lambasted now almost thirty years ago for inflating his wine ratings. His response, besides telling the complainers to fuck off, was that his publishers liked it that way because it got them more attention. If a bunch of 95 was great, then surely a bunch of 100s would be even better--for the writer and the wineries.

Jerry got so much flak from his peers of the day that he changed his rating system in order to give wines two scores--one for quality and one for value. Not a bad idea really, but it meant that Jerry could now give over 90 points to wines of little qualitative virtue if they were inexpensive.

One of the great stumbling blocks of the 100-point system is that it has an upper limit. Surely, if wines have gotten better and better, some must now rate at 110. Or at least, 100&, 100+ and 100Pi.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Cougar Wine,
Thank you for your thoughts. Satire is, and always has been, filled with profanity, raucousness, tastelessness and sexual innuendo. That goes back at least as far as Chaucer. It serves a purpose. And, the language is meant to portray the voice of Rich Prick, who is aptly named. If it offended you, well, that's kind of the point.

Well, technically an appellated wine is required in CA to be 85% from said appellation. But I take your point.

Puff Daddy,
Mead's system could be like baseball's OPS. Add the quality score (99) to the value score (85) and give the wine an OPS (Opportunistic Point Score) of 184! Problem solved. Now 200 Points is a Perfect Wine!

I like 100Pi. I could use an entire House of 100Pi's.

Jet Fuel said...

Unfortunately every industry is replete with exercises in self-aggrandizement. The aviation industry is no different. Mutual admiration groups meet annually and everyone gets a trophy. In the end they only thing everyone walks away with is a sore arm and a sore back...

Paul Wagner said...

I read this as I stood among about 100 people waiting for our hotel shuttles at IAD. I was the only one laughing. Thank you for that--and for your research into the full dimensions of travel bloggers.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

So all 100 were reading my blog, and you were the only one laughing? That makes perfect sense. Anyhow, glad I could bring a bit of comedy to your miserable travel day.

I've made so many gratuitous jokes about wine bloggers, I thought I'd change it up a bit...

Unknown said...

I think the rest were reading the news....

John Berg said...


So you're saying I should be an honest 36 inch waist and not the flattering 32-inch they say I am now?