Autumn, the season of guides to wine is upon us

As it happens every year, the arrival of the month of October has catapulted the attention of the world of wine not only to the harvest but also to the publication of new guides.

For years the judgments of Italian critics have influenced the buying habits of wine aficionados, to the extent of actually conditioning the production style of some vine-dressers. I would like to cite here the best known and authoritative, hoping not to wrong anyone: Gambero RossoVeronelliDuemilaviniLuca MaroniEspresso.

Today, their influence is probably not as great as it was a few years ago, but they doubtless continue to have a large following, and both consumers and producers anxiously wait to see how the principle Italian wines of recent vintages are evaluated.

As a seller, I must say that I, too, am attentive to the judgments of journalists and critics, trying to monitor the degree to which these publications are followed and to what degree they can be useful to sales.

As an aficionado, however, a certain reflection enters my mind frequently that I would like to offer here.

For many years, certain important Italian wines are no longer mentioned in one or more guides of note, for motives exquisitely attached to less than enthusiastic (to use a euphemism) relations between a producer and a guide, and therefore unattached to factors relating to the quality of wine in question.

Regarding other wines I instead have the impression that the pronounced judgment is calculatingly steered to either launch or punish a particular company. One could not explain, in fact, why certain excellent wines are often less valued than others that are perhaps products of industrial procedures and of barely sufficient quality.

Some affirm that in these cases, the more one spends, the more one gains, but it is not my intention here to feed sterile polemics.

I do not even want to name these producers or guides; whoever wants to know has no need of further enlightenment.

My question is this: being clear that nearly all of guides are incomplete from the point of view of an offering of pure judgment, are the guides truly mirroring the panorama of national production?

And is their scope to offer a service to consumers, directing them to the best choices, or rather to sell as many copies as possible and cultivate their own interests?

Signing off, I would like to offer you a famous quote by Pasteur, in order to underline that taste nevertheless remains a strictly personal issue, and that the judgments of others must always find confirmation in our own experiences: “the quality of wine makes the tasters, but what makes the quality of those who are doing the tasting?”