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If you've seen it give me a hell yeah if you haven't, search "instant classic" and view a sample of what gary vaynerchuk has to offer....the best wine info. you've ever/will ever see!!!

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  1. I'm a fan...I love it when he tastes a wine I have tasted, it's easy to calibrate your palate to his. He has a great ability to appreciate and describe the pluses and minuses of both new- and old-world-style wines. A very enthusiastic teacher and hilarious...the epsiode outside during the blizzard was totally classic!

      1. His best recent description (I paraphrase)--it smells like sewer, but good sewer. I've already stolen that line becasue I've definitely had wines for which it was apt.

        1. big props to gary vay...ner...chuk! wltv is awesome!

          1. he's no funnier than a bad comedian... at least to my tastes. and unfortunately he doesn't get many wine-related thoughts across due to his insistence on injecting "humor" into his videos. anyhow, i'm quite sure this topic will be removed by the chowhound team since it's not related to any one subject other than likes-or-dislikes.

            2 Replies
              1. re: montgomeryrossmore

                Agree with you that Gary's angle on reviewing wines focuses more on the entertainment and humor side, but I appreciate his light hearted nature and it's a welcome break from the usual dry, written reviews. Wish I had thought of it first...

              2. I think Gary rocks! He's a breath of fresh air when compared to the usual stuffy spectator-driven snobbery that usually is associated with wine. I also find him knowledgeable and enjoy his unusual descriptions, they may be used a bit for humor, but they are used accurately at least. Wine is supposed to be about enjoyment, and he definately gets that.

                1. He's on Conan right now.

                  1. i think he does a great job of showing how ridiculous it is to assign wines points. the way he seems to arbitrarily come up with a number after taking one or two sips of a wine is hilarious.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: warrenr

                      Do you really think it's arbitrary? I think he is a guy who doesn't mince words and just tells you what he thinks. I don't put much stock in points either, but when Gary says something is in the 70's you know what he means versus when he says it's a 92. Despite all the flowery language, I don't think the mags and RP do anything much different. The whole thing is (as one poster here said) in calibrating your taste to the reviewer's.

                      1. re: Midlife

                        yes, i do believe it is arbitrary. a friend of mine was briefly on the tasting panel of a very famous wine magazine and they do it pretty much the same way, i find them just as ridiculous as mr. vaynerchuk in their assessment of a wine's quantifiable value. what is the logic behind assigning points? is it in comparison to how good the wine could be for the particular vintage, or is it the region, or the grape, or how the producer has performed in the past, or with his peers, or the price range, or just every wine ever made? i'm not questioning his taste, his demeanor, or his expertise. i fail to see the logic behind the rating system that he did not create, but attempts to legitimize.

                        1. re: warrenr

                          In the case of Gary, though, at least you can watch him on video spend a few minutes with each wine and I think that gives you a better idea as to both his thoughts as well as what to expect from the wine itself. Plus it's fun to watch. I agree about the point system being arbitrary at times (how can you tell a 91 from a 92) but his rantings and ravings really help. One thing I find odd is that on Cellar Tracker, the ratings guide tells you 75-79 is for an "average" wine yet I see point inflation all the time when I read people's ratings of various wines- it seems that the wines that are not very impressive score in the low 80's and only really bad wines, not average ones, score below 80.

                          1. re: warrenr

                            I agree that most of the currently employed rating systems and resulting scores are absolutely arbitrary and, more importantly, based on personal preference of the taster. Just look at any website which rates on a 100 point scale. If there is an explanation of how the wines are scored, it is usually with general, and at times vague, categories. Nothing about rating based on the merit of the grape or vintage or terroir.

                            I offer this system: http://www.redwinebuzz.com/wrs.htm

                            There are those who would say that rating on preference (and then readers “learning” the writer’s palate) is the best way to go, and that doing anything else is too complicated.

                            To me, inherent in that argument is an underlying notion that people are too stupid or lack the ability to learn the fundamentals of wine taste to be able to use that kind of system. I think that is insulting to the public and it robs them of an opportunity to learn something and be able to enjoy better wines.

                            1. re: rwbazp

                              I think we're into a discussion of what the word 'arbitrary' means in this context. To me 'arbitrary' would be if the reviewer showed no consistency between his ratings of wines with similar profiles. Certainly whether Gary V gives a wine a 90 or a 92 of an 88 is somewhat arbitrary unless he has such a great sense memory that he can recall exactly what other wines have tasted like and what score he gave them. Parker is recognized at possibly the best at that; you can disagree with him but he's very consistent.

                              I think there's a world of difference between trying to assess some universal benchmark scale from wine reviewers' ratings and just understanding that if the reviewer gave the wine a 95 he loved it and if he gave it an 80 he didn't.

                              I used to think that reviewers rated wines against some recognized benchmark for that style or varietal, but I think now that's hard to come by. To get that you have to read the details of the notes and make your own assessment against your own benchmark of what you like/dislike in a specific wine.

                              So.... yes, I think most point reviews are arbitrary, but I don't think that makes them useless. It just means you have to use them in context. What's unfortunate is that many (most?) people DO take them as something they're not.

                              1. re: Midlife

                                Hi Midlife,

                                "I used to think that reviewers rated wines against some recognized benchmark for that style or varietal, but I think now that's hard to come by."

                                Isn't it time, then, to return to a more standardized way of reviewing wines? It is impossible for a number to tell you all there is to know about a wine. I agree that the description is the essence of the review, which is what you seem to be saying:

                                "To get that you have to read the details of the notes and make your own assessment against your own benchmark of what you like/dislike in a specific wine."

                                That really is the goal, I think. If the reader is fairly well versed in wines, a number (which is the result of a comparative tasting of, say 20-40 wines at one sitting, and consequently is an indicator of the power or size of a given wine rather than finesse or complexity, AND is confused by some to be a direct measure of absolute quality) becomes obsolete when the reviewer describes the wine well.

                                1. re: rwbazp

                                  I like your idea, and I'm intrigued by the system you link to, but I doubt that anyone could agree that there's some kind of objective standard for wines. For example, try and get a group of wine critics to agree on what a syrah *should* taste like. If you survive that discussion, see if you can get them to agree on what the relative merits of the different styles of Syrah are.

                                  IMHO, you can't ever have precise ratings because there's no such thing as unsubjective wine tasting.

                                  1. re: oolah

                                    oolah, there *are* absolute/objective standards for wine. That is why we have enologists, sommeliers and Masters of Wine. These wine traits are consistent enough across the globe and over time that people have in fact developed standards and typical characteristics of different varieties.

                                    A Cabernet sauvignon or Syrah smell and taste a certain way because their genetic codes dictate what molecules their cells will produce. These molecules (which are surprisingly common in other plants as well) have distinct and unique smells. Yes there are regional variations. Some of these variations manage to be of high quality. Some just don’t. Ultimately, a Pinot noir has no business tasting like a Syrah or a Cabernet.

                                    Take a Paso, Bordeaux and Napa cab and they will be different (owing to climate, soils, farming and winemaking methods) - BUT, if well made, they will share common traits. These traits have been constant over time and around the world - again, given regional variations.

                                    And this is where I come to your last two statements: most 'critics' for the most part, know something about wine, but are all rating based on their preference or by ranking wines in a comparative tasting (which is destined to select those wines that stand out by virtue of power of extraction). There are no clearly defined, strict criteria for assigning point values.

                                    Most informed critics *will* agree on what the best characteristics of any variety from any growing region are. They will recognize that a cool climate Syrah from the Sta. Rita Hills (when at its best) will be very different from a Santa Ynez Valley or east Paso Robles Syrah (when at its best). They will also be able to agree on the general characteristics of those. It is when people (often those with little background in the topic) try to opine and pontificate about “which is best”, that a dogfight tends to ensue.

                                    As to your statement : “there's no such thing as unsubjective wine tasting”: I most vehemently disagree. The most respected wine critics of the world (excluding a certain former attorney and others who write for the biggest wine publications) review wines in this way. That is a sign of both skill and true professionalism.. Put in the context of wine, I can recognize when an Albarinio is at its best – regardless of my preference for, or prejudice against it. That is when I am most useful to my readers.

                                    Finally, please study my rating system closely: You will see it has nothing to do with how much I like the wine, how extracted it is nor does the final point score (which I am now de-emphasizing in my reviews) indicate any absolute quality.

                                    No matter how long I take and how many words I use, many people will want me to give them a number to represent the wine. It is safe, it is easy to remember, it is familiar. However, if you play with the system a little, you will see that the more complex the wine, the more food friendly and the more age worthy, the more points it accumulates. You can convert that to a 100 point system or use each category as an individual guide.

                                    1. re: rwbazp

                                      Hmm -- still disagree. As long as the primary measurement tool is an individual's palate, no matter how well-calibrated, there's no way it can't be subjective. Your taste buds are different than mine -- and they grew up eating different foods and tasting different flavors. So, even if we manage to agree that all Syrah ought to have a particular profile, we may not find the same things in the same wine.

                                      Add that to the fact that there aren't really such established standards, and you get a lot of disagreement. It's not like there's a wine Pope, and we ain't all Catholic anyway ;)

                                      For example, some people think all wines over 14% alcohol are bad. Others vehemently disagree. Who's right?

                                      That said, I do think you could get a roomful of educated and well-trained people in a room to agree on which wines are the absolute best ones and which are the absolute worst (according to your scale), but I'd wager there'd be dog (and cat) fights about the whole spectrum in the middle.

                                      rwbazp, please don't take this the wrong way -- I actually really like your system and think people would benefit from using your standards to judge wine, rather than just saying "I like it" or "I don't like it" -- but ultimately I believe that all ratings (just like all opinions, even educated ones) are subjective. Even mine :)

                                      1. re: oolah


                                        I am not taking your arguments personally. No worries.

                                        I agree with you that past experiences frame our reference points. But when I talk about training a palate, I do not mean to standardize people to respond with "yummy", "yucky" and "eeeh" to the specific smells. Those reactions are subjective responses, opinions.

                                        I propose to you that one can be non-subjective about wine description:

                                        Think of a commonly enjoyed food that you just hate. You could learn to assess it on its own merits and convey to someone what the food is like (using objective terms) and if the particular example before you is a quality one or not.

                                        Another scenario: you know a guy who just rubs you the wrong way, but you are able to acknowledge that he is not some evil ogre. Rather, he is a normal, healthy person but you and he just don’t mesh. However, he has a lot of the qualities that would make your friend very happy in a relationship. As a matter of fact, you really think this is the right guy for your friend (about whom you care a lot and want the best for). Putting your prejudice for the guy aside in order to convey to your friend what he is like requires the same mindset as rating or reviewing a wine objectively. You could also do that without interjecting (or divulging to the listener) your preferences.

                                        Whether you agree with that view or not, I appreciate the civil nature of our exchange.

                      2. It's refreshing watching Gary. My wife refers to him as "that obnoxious wine guy" but I enjoy the show. It makes me want to sample more wines and it also helps dispel the stereotype of some stuffy, snobby person sniffing at the wine and then pretentiously gargling with it. I give him a big thumbs up.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: monkuboy

                          I am a fan of Gary's wine blog. Definately appreciate his unique perspectives and his ability to pull out esoteric fragrances out of his "sniffy sniffs"/

                          He made mention of an article on Slate.com in his video blog today. Definately not all positive but pretty inciteful. I have always felt that he had a Jim Cramer quality to his rants and the other addressed this as well. Here is the link:


                        2. I like Gary and his approach a lot...however, he's a reviewer and a shop owner and there is an inherent conflict of interest there. If he were tasting wines that reps brought in and that he didn't yet stock, I think it could be interesting. But he's tasting stuff straight off the shelves of his store. How do we know that he hasn't given an 84 to something that he has only a few bottles left of, and a 93 to something that he's locked the entire NJ allotment to of say 50 cases? WL does HUGE volume, and there are huge competition battles between NJ super-sized stores right now. How do we know he's not bashing a wine he knows PJ's has gotten a pallet of, for instance, to kill their game?

                          Anyhow, with that aside, I'm a fan of Gary on his own, though I think he's getting a little far away from his original focus and a little wrapped up in the excitement of the attention. But anything that helps wine develop a wider audience and larger market? That's good.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: domaine547

                            He did a tasting of Trader Joe's 2 Buck Chuck that he certainly doesn't carry in his store. Granted, he didn't give any of them really great scores (they're $2-$3 for heaven's sake), but there was one he said was actually rather good, especially for the price and gave it something in the high 80's I think.

                            The store does a reported $45million in sales, so he has lots of wines to choose from and a pretty big budget I would guess. As a smart merchant, I have no doubt he's doing this to the advantage of the store, but...... Nonethless, what he's done with his video blog is a revolutionary turn in the wine industry, and it appears to be working very well.