Thursday, September 6, 2012
81% of readers don't believe Wine Spectator
However, that may actually be good for Wine Spectator.
When I posed the poll question, "Do you believe Wine Spectator bases its ratings solely on blind tasting?" I expected some cynicism. I didn't expect a landslide "No" vote. But that's what it was, with 81% voting No. Only 9% voted Yes; 10% voted I'm Not Sure.
Let me state the obvious, that this poll proves nothing about Wine Spectator's rating practices; it's only about my readers' beliefs.
Plus, this is not a random poll of wine consumers. Based on my general blog readership -- I did just win Best Industry Blog -- I assume that a lot of voters were people in the wine industry.
One popular rumor, mentioned in the comments, is that advertising in the magazine can raise scores for wines.
If most people in the industry believe that, that can only be good for Wine Spectator's bottom line.
I can't project these results to what a poll of ordinary wine consumers would look like. But even if the Yes vote in such a poll were equally low, it might be embarrassing, but I'm not sure how bad it would be for Wine Spectator.
Wine Spectator isn't running for office. It doesn't need 50% of the wine-buying public to believe its ratings come only from blind tasting, or even 20%. It only needs enough people to respect the magazine enough to buy a subscription to it. Secondarily, it's good for business if enough people respect its ratings to give the magazine access and power. Even if just 9% of the wine-buying public feels that way, that's enough.
One thing that surprised me about this poll was that all the passion, even anger, came from Yes voters. A few people vehemently defended Wine Spectator. A lot more people quietly voted No. I'm not worried about how effective Polldaddy's controls were at preventing repeated votes, because if there was going to be ballot box stuffing, the comments here and on social media would make you think it would be for Yes. So the No landslide could conceivably have been larger.
Which might, in the end, bring a more wicked smile to the face of the Wine Spectator advertising sales rep working the winery accounts. "No, no, you can't change your wine's ratings by buying this ad. Don't believe The Gray Report. That's just a silly poll with fewer than 2000 respondents. It's completely wrong."
Posted by W. Blake Gray at 6:00 AM