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Tag Archives: vivino

100 Zinfandels, and Counting!

When I first heard about Vivino, way back on Thanksgiving Day, 2014, I thought it was a pretty good idea. The concept is simple: users upload pictures of wine labels, give the wine a rating from 1 – 5 stars, and write up a brief review. The label recognition technology is pretty good, so if a wine is already in the database, the user doesn’t have to manually enter it. With a global crowd-sourcing base, the database is extensive and I rarely have to manually enter a new wine. With this database of wine ratings, users can look up a wine and check scores and ratings and reviews before they buy it. If a wine has a low rating, and the reviews don’t sound promising, you might want to pass on it.

Within Vivino, users themselves are ranked. Using a complex algorithm I’ve yet to fully comprehend, but generally based on number of wines rated, quality of reviews, and participation in the social platform (liking other users’ reviews), users are assigned a ranking within their country; Number 3,421 in the U.S, for example. Also, users can earn distinctions based on how many of a given wine style they have rated. These ranks start with Explorer after your first rating, to Enthusiast after rating six wines, to Expert after 26, to the pinnacle, after rating 100 wines of a regional style: Ambassador. 

After using the app for awhile, I noticed my ranking was getting higher and higher. Suddenly my normally docile competitive spirit kicked in. I wanted to see how high I could get in numerical and regional ranking. I started trying more and different wines from around the world. I was obnoxiously diligent in taking pictures of every label of every wine I tasted, be it at the wine shop, a restaurant, a friend’s house, or anywhere else. Eventually, I made it as high as 124 in the U.S.! As of today, I’ve slipped down to 143, largely because I’ve been a little busy getting married. According to data from October 2018, there are 32.8 million Vivino users worldwide. The U.S. has the highest number of users, followed by Brazil. It’s hard to find information on number of users per country, but by my estimation, there are more than 5 million in the U.S. So 143 is still respectable, and I’m working my way back up!

Due to the wide variety of wines I was rating, however, my regional-wine ranking was slower to evolve. California Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel were always my top two, but I was enjoying other varietals and regions as well. Then one day, earlier this month, I rated a California Zinfandel, and saw that it was my 99th review. I was about to become an Ambassador!  

 As I was getting ready to write this post, I went back to the beginning to recall which wine was my first rating. To my amusement, it was a Zinfandel! Back then I was a member of NakedWines.com, and a big fan of winemaker Leigh Meyering. Her “ElegantLeigh” Zinfandel 2013 was my very first Vivino entry. 

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My reviews have gotten more descriptive since then!

For my 100th California ZInfandel, I selected the Seghesio Sonoma Zinfandel 2016. I’ve only had Seghesio a few times, but have always enjoyed it, and it’s widely known and recognized for its quality. 

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Seghesio Family Vineyards has been in operation for more than 120 years, across five generations. In 1895, Edoardo Seghesio planted a Zinfandel vineyard in Alexander Valley. In 1902, Edoardo and his wife, Angela, built a winery and began making wine. Seghesio Winery was born. The winery flourished and gained a reputation for quality, and even managed to survive during Prohibition. Once Prohibition ended, Edoardo re-opened the doors for commercial winemaking. Fourth generation brothers, Ted and Pete Seghesio now run the operation, and are committed to quality over quantity. Ted’s nephew, Ned Neumiller, is now working in the family business; the fifth generation to do so. 

With over 300 estate vineyards planted to Zinfandel and Italian varieties, Seghesio continues to produce high-quality wines and expand their reputation in the wine world. I know I was impressed when I opened my 100th Zinfandel! 

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Deep purple color, with ruby rim. Aromas of blackberry, blueberry, and baking spice. On the palate, ripe blackberry, cassis, blueberry, cherry, baking spice, black pepper, and vanilla. There’s a lot going on here. Definitely one of the more complex Zinfandels I’ve had in awhile. Big, bold, and full bodied with bright acidity and medium tannins. The finish is spicy with black fruit notes, and goes on for days. Perfect with baby back ribs!

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The aforementioned Baby Back ribs, with a twice-baked potato and corn on the cob! I do love summer eats.

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If you haven’t tried Seghesio Zinfandel yet, you really ought to. Pop a bottle, download the Vivino app, and rate and review it! Your California Zinfandel Ambassador recommends it. 🙂

Cheers!

  • By Kent Reynolds

Review: Bruno Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2013

Cabernet Sauvignon. The king of the grapes. The stuff of Grand Cru Bordeaux, and Napa legends. From poets to journalists, critics to bloggers, much has been written about this most famous varietal, and much more will be in the future. None of the words put to print can adequately capture the magic that happens when a skilled winemaker plies his art on this noble grape, and produces the fine elixir sought by kings and paupers alike.

Ah, but I wax poetic. Who am I kidding? That’s not my style! Let me just say that Cabernet Sauvignon is some darn fine wine! It is one of my favorite varietals, and if you believe the stats, it is my #1 favorite. And you can’t argue with stats! I had always considered Zinfandel my favorite, but looking back on my wine apps, I have consumed and rated more Cabernet Sauvignon than any other varietal! So much so, that Vivino considers me an Expert of California Cabernet Sauvignon! I don’t know that I’m an expert of much of anything, but if Vivino says it of me, I’ll take it!IMG_0917If you follow my blog, or have read my very first post, Appetite for Wine, (found under the About tab), you know that I tend to live in the Under-$35 world of retail wine prices. Most of my purchases are in the sub-$20 region. At this price point, you can find quality, but a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon in this range is rather one-dimensional and uninspiring. Not that it’s all bad…many have very good flavor, but are often blends that dilute the unique terroir, and/or spend very little time in oak, which I consider to be very important for Cabernet. As I discussed in a previous post, A Cabernet is a Cabernet. Or Is It?, not all wines are created equally, and things like climate, soil, and blending can change the character of wines made from the same varietal. Generally speaking, as with most things in life, the higher the quality, the bigger the price tag.

Another thing you probably know about me is that I am a NakedWines.com Angel. NakedWines.com is a crowd funded winery, whose winemakers produce high quality, boutique wines, which they sell directly to Angels. By avoiding the costly and archaic three-tier system, NakedWines.com is able to pass their savings to the Angels by selling at reduced prices. Therefore, Angels get better quality for the price. NakedWines.com seeks out the best and brightest winemakers. Many of them have worked in big name wineries, and have years or decades of experience.

The wine I am reviewing today is an excellent example of both Napa Cabernet Sauvignon, and what makes NakedWines.com such a great deal. The winemaker, Richard Bruno, has more than 20 years of experience, making award-winning wines at such notable wineries as Francis Ford Coppola and Sebastiani. He is a recent addition to the NakedWines.com family, and this is the first of his wines that I have tried. It will not be my last!

Since Vivino considers me a California Cabernet expert, I am making an “Expert Recommendation” for this wine!

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Oh wow! I had to double check the Angel price on this beauty! $19.99? Must be a typo. This is at least a $40-45 bottle of Napa Cabernet!

This wine is a great example of why Cabernet Sauvignon is the king of grapes. Deep garnet in the glass, the nose is a basket of freshly picked boysenberries, blackberries, and blueberries. On the palate these berries are joined by deep, dark black currant, spice, and hearty oak. The oak enhances, but does not overpower the wine. This is a dry wine with bold tannins. But even straight from the bottle without decanting or aerating, (yes, into a glass! I’m a oenophile, not a wino!) the tannins are not harsh, but are smooth and chewy, and balanced with bright acidity. After decanting for an hour, the tannins are even smoother, the flavors enhanced, and the acidity nicely balanced. The finish lingers long with berry, spice, leather, and smoke.

This wine will age gracefully for several years, but if you have a slab of beef or lamb laying around that needs grilling, open this one up and find out what everybody is talking about. 4.5 hearts (92-94 points) now. Definite 5.0 with a couple years of age.

NW LogoIf you’d like to try this, or any of the other outstanding wines available from NakedWines.com, click here for a voucher worth $100 off a first-time order of $160 or more. You’ll be glad you did.

Cheers!

 

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How to Avoid Subjectivity in Wine Reviews

How do you avoid subjectivity in wine reviews?

You can’t.

But wait, there’s more!

We’ve all read wine reviews in magazines and wine-industry websites. These are written by trained, often certified, wine professionals. In addition, social media has enabled us all to become wine reviewers. Sites like Cellar Tracker, Vivino, and Delectable allow consumers to rate and review wines on the go, using Smart Phone apps.

Cellar Tracker

Cellar Tracker

Vivino

Vivino

Delectable

Delectable

This can be a great help in the wine aisle, overwhelmed by the vast selection and not knowing what’s good. Simply pull out your phone and check the reviews!

There are also a number of online retailers that encourage consumers to rate and review the wines they buy.

With all those reviews out there, professional and amateur, how can you know which wines you’ll like?

Subjectivity is about individual experiences and perceptions. Its how you feel, what you enjoy; your personal preferences. Whereas you may really like a particular wine, the next person may disdain it.

Objectivity, on the other hand, refers to fact-based findings. When you go to the doctor, you describe your symptoms: pain and swelling in your ankle, for example. Perhaps you assume you sprained your ankle, but your symptoms are your subjective perception of what is wrong. Doctor Reading X RayThe doctor orders x-rays. The objective fact established by the x-ray shows that you actually broke your ankle. With objectivity, your doctor can properly treat your injury.

Wine is a subjective experience. Everybody has different preferences, tastes, likes, and dislikes. Some people only like white wine. Some people only like sweet wine. There are “ABC’ers” – Anything But Chardonnay. Paul Giamatt Drinking Spit BucketOthers, influenced by popular culture, and won’t drink Merlot. Price and value play a part, too. I know people who simply won’t spend more than $7 or $8 on a bottle of wine.

So are wine reviews of any value? Yes, but…

Wine reviews express the subjective opinion of another person. Professional reviewers, with years of training and tasting experience, can guide you to a wine you may enjoy. But…only if you share a similar taste profile and preferences. I have found that the best way to use reviews is to find reviewer with similar subjective preferences to mine. This requires a lot of reading, but pretty quickly you can identify who likes what you like.

Another thing to remember about professional reviews is that most (if not all) of the wines they review are samples submitted by the producer. That is, the reviewer is not paying for these wines. Professional reviewers rarely consider price in their ratings. It is easy to rave about a $200 wine when you’re not paying for it. One refreshing exception is Jon Thorsen, “The Reverse Wine Snob“, whose tagline is “Thumbing Your Nose at Bottles Over $20”. He has devised a rating scale that considers price as well as taste and quality.[1]

But what about amateurs?

In today’s social media culture, anybody can post a wine review. While this can make it more challenging to sift through the chaff to find a good match with your profile, it can be done. But…you have to be careful. The quality of the reviews runs the gamut, from one-or-two words (e.g. “loved it”), to troll-like wine bashing, to well-written and thoughtful. Again, finding and following a few users with whom you find unity will go a long way to helping you find that new favorite wine.

When I rate wines, my ratings (five-star scale) are based on how much I liked or enjoyed a wine at a given time in a given setting. I’ve found that the same wine can taste different in different situations. In my reviews, I try to be as descriptive as possible, so readers can decide if a given wine might taste like what they like.

Notable among online retailers encouraging ratings is Naked Wines, where members communicate directly with the winemakers through reviews and comments. Naked Wines actually uses member feedback to determine which wines to produce in future years. (Get your $100 voucher here!)

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Isn’t the 100 point scale objective?

The 100 point wine rating scale, popularized by Robert Parker in the 1970’s [2], is helpful, but has come under increased scrutiny recently [3]. Critics argue that it is one-dimentional – it does not consider situational nuances; it favors higher-end, more expensive wines; and…wait for it…it is largely subjective, based on the preferences and biases of the reviewer. Robert Parker’s 92 might be an 85 for me, and vice-versa.

Nevertheless, over the years, a number of wines have earned a perfect 100 points from professional reviewers. These wines are the gold-standard for a particular varietal or region. Let’s assume for a moment that all the experts agree that these are all 100 point wines. That would be pretty objective! However, for the average consumer, pure objectivity would require tasting every 100 point wine of every varietal and region to get a baseline for quality. As much as I’d love to do this, it simply isn’t possible. Furthermore, since wine is subjective, not everyone will love every 100 point wine.

100 Pt Wines

So what to do?

Embrace the subjectivity in wine. Part of the marvel and enjoyment is the fact that we are all different. There is enough variety that everyone can find something they like. Read reviews, both of professionals, published in magazines and on wine websites, and amateurs on social media, apps, and blogs. Follow those who share your preference, but don’t be afraid to venture out and try something new, too.

Finally, try not to get distracted by reviews. They are just opinions. The most important thing to remember is…

Drink what you like!

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[1] http://www.reversewinesnob.com/p/rating-system.html

[2] https://www.erobertparker.com/info/legend.asp

[3] http://wineeconomist.com/2008/05/27/tyranny-of-the-100-point-wine-scale/

https://grapecollective.com/articles/death-of-the-100-point-system

http://firstwefeast.com/drink/the-future-of-the-100-point-wine-system/

Appetite for Wine

We enjoy wine. A lot. We are not wine professionals. We hold no certifications; we have no experience in the wine industry. We just enjoy tasting and drinking wine, and exploring wine regions.

Most of the wines we drink are from California, mainly because that is where we live, so when we go wine tasting, that’s what we buy. Nevertheless, we enjoy wines from other states in the U.S., and all over the world. We have an affinity for Spain (Rioja, Cariñena), Italy (Tuscany, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Barolo), and France (Red Bordeaux, Loire Sauvignon Blanc). We enjoy finding affordable wines from under-rated regions.

Over the years we have tasted several hundred wines, and can only recall a handful that were so bad we could not drink them. (One of those was early in my (Kent) wine journey and I now believe it was corked, but I didn’t know it at the time.) While we have favorites, and prefer big, bold reds, we haven’t met a grape – red or white – that we don’t enjoy in some measure.

Our main format for micro-blogging is Instagram. We are very active there, posting several times per week to share what we’re drinking, and what we’re thinking. Please visit us @appetite_for_wine and @robz_lyfe. If you like what you see, please follow us.

You may also want to follow Kent on Vivino, the wine rating app. He’s consistently rated in the top 140 users in the United States. That’s out of more than 5.5 million users! You can find him here: http://www.vivino.com/users/kent-rey. His Vivino reviews also post to his Twitter feed at https://twitter.com/k1reynolds.

If you’d like to reach us directly, or are interested in having us review your wine (samples gladly accepted), please send an e-mail to appetiteforwine (at) gmail (dot) com. Cheers!

– Kent Reynolds & Robyn Raphael