Blog: Olly WehringWine writers - criticising the critics

Olly Wehring | 9 February 2010

It's open season for critics of wine critics here in the UK this month.

Last week, US wine personality (I struggle still to find out what it is he actually does) Tim Hanni attacked wine critics en masse, claiming that the breed are of little use to the wine consumer in the street.

"We've created the false idea that to be a wine expert you have to have an almost supernatural palate," he told the Guardian. "But, ironically, if anyone really did have such a palate, it would disqualify them from being an oracle to those who didn't.

"Received wisdom holds that certain wines are simply the best, and that anyone who disagrees is stupid, unsophisticated, or both. That's more chaotic than giving people the confidence to drink what they like, no matter what the bottle costs, and no matter what food they enjoy it with."

(Granted, Hanni was pushing a questionnaire he has designed in partnership with Bibendum in the UK, designed to help consumers work out what tastes they prefer. Still, his opinion on wine writers warrants consideration.

Today, however, Tim Atkin – a wine writer – has countered Hanni's argument, going so far as to suggest: “Experienced wine critics are arguably more essential in a recession than ever.”

Do feel free to let me know which side of the fence you sit on. Indeed, if you tell me, I'll tell you.

I'll have to whisper it, mind.


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