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Jun 10, 2011 07:04 PM

Good Website for Wine Reviews

Any good wine review sites?


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  1. I like you tried it? I guess it's more of a wine-rating site but just throwing it out there.

    1. I presume you are looking for website that give you reviews w/o charge???

      1 Reply
      1. If you know much about the taster, CellarTracker! can be excellent. I've learned the hard way not to trust just any old notes on CellarTracker!
        A "trick" to get free reviews from paid reviewers is to look up the wine for sale on Many sites that sell wine with list professional tasting notes with the wine.

        1 Reply
        1. re: SteveTimko

          Yes, fabulous tips for using cellartracker Steve! Thanks!

        2. My scenario (like many) is to arrive at the wine store and see a wine or vineyard that I'm not familiar w/ but that looks interesting. I want a quick concise review which includes when it peaks or is past it's prime.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Chinon00


            With that request you should pay for the info. As a wine reviewer it costs a ton to do what I do and I hope those that benefit from my reviews would pay a small fee a year.

            Very few free sites talk about when to drink or hold so you will have to pay something for such a request. Just sign up for Wine Specator Online as it is the price of an average meal out.

            1. re: Chinon00

              The problem, of course, is that these are -- by and large -- useless. As Steve Timko quite rightly points out,

              >>> If you know much about the taster, CellarTracker! can be excellent. I've learned the hard way not to trust just any old notes on CellarTracker! <<<

              These are why tasting notes can be terrifically useful, or painfully useless. It all depends upon the reviewer (how consistent is he/she; what is his/her speciality; what are his/her weaknesses), and upon you, the reader (how adept are you at interpreting his/her tasting notes).

              Let me explain: Personally, I do not agree with Robert Parker about many wines. But Parker is incredibly consistent. Thus I have come to be able to utilize some of his notes, by knowing what keywords to avoid -- even on a "98-point" wine -- and what words to look for -- even on an "86-point" wine. In other words, the point scores are irrelevant. It's the description that is the key.

              When it comes to other wines, however, I *do* have similar tastes to Parker. So MY "job," so to speak is to know which wines I agree with him on, which wines I do not, and to correctly interpret his words, his estimates his aging, and other factors so that they "jive" with MY palate.

              On the other hand, some reviewers are amazingly INconsistent, or like wines that I seem to -- well, let's say they are wines I don't like. Writers like that are a complete waste of time . . . for ME. Since only positive reviews (generally) get published, if they are (most often) wines I (will) dislike, reading a reviewer in this category is a waste of time.

              Some people who post reviews on CellarTracker! are very consistent; some others, less so. The trick is to figure out who is who.

              My BEST wine recommendations have ALWAYS come from two sources: 1) friends who I know and trust; and 2) retailers. If one goes into a serious wine retailer -- difficult, David, I know when you're stuck with the PLCB -- they will NOT want to burden you with cases of $#!+ and never see you again . . . they will want you to be a customer for life. They will listen to what you are looking for, your likes and dislikes, and make suggestions that will suit YOUR palate, not theirs.

              Then again, you ARE in PA. Sorry.


              1. re: Chinon00

                Remember, ultimately, there no substitute for tasting the wine yourself.

              2. If there is a varietal that you like, it can be helpful to find wine retailers online that are also enthusiastic about that varietal and read the tasting notes. A number of wine stores put up their own tasting notes.

                For instance, if you like Chinon (don't know if you do, although you chose that for your moniker), check out and - both in New York. The proprietors of both places seem to be very enthusiastic about Chinon, and I have found their tasting notes very helpful. Unfortunately, since you are in Pennsylvania, with its strange restrictions on shipping, you won't actually be able to then order the wine from those vendors, but you could try to then find the wines in Pennsylvania.

                7 Replies
                1. re: omotosando

                  In the FWIW Dept., I place very LITTLE stock in a store's self-published tasting notes (with a few notable exceptions; see below). After all, they own x number of cases of Château Cache Phloe 2011 Chardonnay, and they have to sell it!

                  OTOH, I place a LOT of faith in the personal interaction between customer and *knowledgable* sales staff. ("Knowledgable" being the crucial word in all this.) The more you work with that sales person, the more that individual gets to know your taste, your preferences, and what is it you don't like. For example, even though I spent the overwhelming majority of my working life in the wine trade, I will still (often) seek advice in selecting wines to buy. Some 80 percent of the time, I deal with the same individual in this or that store. By both of us asking questions of the other, *listening* to the answers, taking recommendations and providing feedback, these people "know" my palate -- the more I deal with them, his or her recommendations hit the bull's-eye every time . . .

                  That's very different than self-published descriptions or tasting notes found online on the store's website, or on the shelves inside the store. These are a) one-size-fits-all descriptions with no modifications or tweaks for your own personal likes or dislikes; b) they are often written by the wholesaler, distributor, or producer, rather than the store personnel themselves. (Search multiple websites -- you may be surprised at how many times the descriptions are exactly the same!)

                  That said, as you and I have already noted, since the OP lives in Pennsylvania, all of this may be completely moot.


                  1. re: zin1953

                    What you say may be true for 99% of wine stores, but I think there are some stores, especially smaller stores like Uva Wines in Brooklyn New York, that do a lot of tastings and have their own tasting notes. One wine that I bought from PJ Wines in Washington Heights, New York, I bought based on tasting notes from a dinner they held, and the wine was every bit as spectacular as the tasting notes indicated.

                    Luckily, I live in California and can order wine from wherever I want. I live in Los Angeles, not some small town, and much prefer ordering online than working with a local wine store. For one thing, I'm not interested in driving 40 minutes across town to buy wine. Near me, I have BevMo (horrid selection of low-end wines) and an "elite" wine store with higher than average markups where they once looked at me like I was crazy when I asked for a Grüner Veltliner saying that they didn't have much call for that kind of thing. So, I much prefer to take my chances on the tasting notes of an online store, particularly one like PJ's or UVA which carry a number of interesting wines that I am just not going to see in my neighborhood.

                    None of this helps the poor OP who is stuck in Pennsylvania. . .

                    1. re: omotosando

                      I grew up in LA and we used to say that no matter where you wanted to go, it took 20 minutes -- 20 minutes to Santa Monica; 20 minutes to Downtown; 20 min to the Valley, to LAX, and so on . . . .

                      Today, it may be more like 40-45 minutes, but I cannot believe these isn't a quality wine store closer to you. Be that as it may, I am quite lucky to be living in Berkeley. I am 1.8 miles from North Berkeley Imports, 2.8 miles from Solano Cellars, 3 miles from Kermit Lynch, 3.1 miles from The Spanish Table, and 3.8 miles from Paul Marcus Wines . . . pretty much have everything that I need (that I don't buy wholesale). ;^)

                      1. re: zin1953

                        I heard that differently. How I heard it was that in LA there's ALWAYS something to do. But it's ALWAYS 45 minutes away;]

                        1. re: zin1953

                          There is a quality wine store 10 minutes from me. It's a great place if you want to purchase cru Bordeaux or cult California cabs at higher than average mark-ups. Not so great a place if you are looking for a bottle of Grüner Veltliner or Chinon or basically anything with a good quality to price ratio.

                          We do have K&L, but it is about a 40 minute drive (you are right that 20 minute drives have now morphed into 40 minute drives) and I still haven't driven there to pick up the bottle of wine that I had them ship me from the Redwood City store two months ago with free shipping, because it is just too much trouble and I figured let K&L cellar it until I happen to be in the neighborhood.

                      2. re: zin1953

                        Just my two cents on wine salesman: They can be great resources. But you have to either A: establish a relationship with them or B: let them know you're knowledgeable and they can't bullcrap you.
                        for instance, at one wine store the owner knew I didn't like Bordeaux varietals and never tried to push them on me but if we got a nice California pinot that was off the radar he'd let me know. He knew I was into drinking wine and not collecting trophies.

                        1. re: SteveTimko

                          To me, a "wine salesman" is a whoiesale rep . . . but that's just semantics.

                          In my experience (substantially dominated by California retailers, FWIW), there are -- in a sense -- three types of places to purchase wine, not including online websites or gas stations/7-Eleven-type convenience stores.

                          1) There are "big box stores," like Beverages, and more!, Costco, Target, most supermarkets (including Trader Joe's). These places *may* have someone who knows something about wine, but probably not to the depth and breadth one would like.

                          2) Traditional liquor stores, which have a selection of wines -- perhaps even "fine wines" -- but are not seriously "into" it.

                          3) True wine merchants with knowledgable (and passionate) sales staff. These are the places that want you as a long-term customer and will be able to advise you; to tailor their suggestions to your palate, your tastes; that won't say, "I have a 98-point cult Cab" when what you like is a great Pinot Noir . . . .