Wine critics play an important role in today’s growing interest in fine wine with millions of people following them on social media as well as tracing their trail when travelling, which effects not only the wine industry itself, but also the hospitality and travel sector.
James Suckling’s 2022 Annual Report about Spain shows that Spanish wines are at the top of the lists of the most famous international wine critics.
Suckling and his team have rated more than 2,500 Spanish wines this year and awarded 4 wines with 100 points whilst many garnered 95 and higher, a record-breaking number of top scorers.
Both wine lovers and producers put their hope and belief in the reviews of the most well-known and respected wine critics and just like top chefs they are a kind of new wave of celebrities, who set the standard on what to drink, where and with which type of food to pair.
But how important is really their opinion and where does it fall short?
Wine rating is not based on how delicious a wine is, it is based on typicality, meaning how typical a wine is in its traits and style of its home region. Most critics agree on the 100p top wines but they start to disagree when you get down towards the +90 mark. So who should we listen to, because not many consumers drink 100p wines on a regular basis.
Fundamentally there are two different wine critics, one who prefers wine that are complex and bold, and one who prefers wines that are complex and subtle.
The second thing wine critics and conscious buyers look at is the grape varietals. Wine producers know better than anyone that grapes tastes very different depending on where they grow, in what soil, climate and how they are treated during the actual production. Then we must understand the huge differences in blends with other grapes, because most wines don’t come from just one type of grape and soil. In many wine blogs and articles you find interviews and videos with producers, you should pay more attention to them and not only to the more global and general opinion of critics.
You must find your own favourite regions and producers and then see what the professionals say about them, then it will be easier to find similar qualities from other countries and regions that might become new personal favourites.
Naturally the opinions of the best wine critics are important – we also follow several of them regularly. Suckling and his team’s conclusion from his annual report 2022 was clear and triumphant: ‘Spain stands atop the world of premium wine with a laser focus on drinkability and gastronomic consonance.’
Other critics have voiced similar opinions so we are pleased to see that all agree on that many of the most valuable wines come from Spain and that the new generation of “wild” and creative producers are taking Spanish wines to a completely different level, making Spain again a world leader in drinkable premium wines that are just made for easy food pairing in your own home kitchen. Modern food favourites like thick-cut cheddar burgers, bbq skewers, roast pork and all kinds of slow cooked stews are perfect with many Spanish wines, food with lots of taste and body.
Check our new Terra Ibérica section with guides, articles, recipes and insider tips about the best value wines and the people behind them.