Two recent articles in the Journal of Wine Economics by Roger Hodgson and discussed in Leonard Mlodinow’s Wall Street Journal article A Hint of Hype, A Taste of Illusion throw cold water on expert ratings and wine competition awards.
The articles, An Analysis of the Concordance Among 13 U.S. Wine Competitions (abstract, PDF) and An Examination of Judge Reliability at a Major U.S. Wine Competition (abstract, PDF) provide some of the best empirical data about the awarding of medals and the variability of wine judges’ scoring. Based on a fair bit of experience, I can’t say that I am surprised. Most knowledgeable wine people I know pay attention to ratings and medals but don’t treat them as gospel. They believe as I do that the best bottle of wine is the one you drink with friends.