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Objective vs. subjective

Our point of view

objektiv-vs.-subjektiv.jpgPhoto: Pixabay
weinfreaks.de: As objective as possible, as subjective as necessary

Is a wine good if you like it and bad if you do not? What exactly do we mean by wine quality?

Each of us has certain ideas about what characterises a good wine. In addition to our personal preferences, other objective quality parameters, which can relate to origin, production, texture or maturity development, play an essential role. Depending on the individual point of view, the quality parameters and their weighting vary. Therefore, when two people talk about the quality of a wine, they do not necessarily mean the same.

In wine criticism, we need an objective and uniform concept of quality that stands above subjective taste. We have to keep in mind that quality does not mean the fulfilment of individual wishes. Rather, it is about criteria for wine evaluation that are described as precisely as possible and are comprehensible, based on a broad consensus in professional circles, and which also satisfy scientific findings.

What is quality?

Depending on the context, there are different definitions of the term quality. For example, the industry standard DIN EN ISO 9000:2015-11 defines quality as “the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics of an object fulfils requirements”. Here, the word “degree” refers to a measurable fulfilment (which presupposes standardised benchmarks) of previously agreed requirements. These requirements are usually written in so-called requirements specifications.

Although there are no specifications for human sensory perception and wine tasting, there is a consensus on the individual steps involved in tasting a wine and the criteria to be applied by the taster. These are essentially colour, intensity of aromas in the nose and on the palate, complexity, balance and length.

A quantum of subjectivity

Despite of objective criteria, subjectively coloured assessments can occur. Not everyone has the same sense of taste. Especially the perception of bitterness can vary widely between two tasters and lead to a controversial ratings. In addition, different cultural influences also lead to different acceptance of ingredients such as sugar or acidity.

In jury tastings, therefore, there is often a natural range in the wine ratings. In this context, the standard deviation from the mean value depends not only on the compliance with the objective criteria, but also on the competence and experience of the tasters.

As objective as possible …

An artisanal cultural asset like wine cannot be measured exactly, but in principle opens up room for interpretation.

Therefore, it cannot be assumed that different tasters will evaluate each wine in the same way. Despite all objectivity, a certain degree of subjectivity cannot be ruled out. Nevertheless, this in no way justifies judging a wine from the outset solely according to one's own taste with reference to the subjective evaluation component.

At weinfreaks.de, we taste according to the motto “As objectively as possible, as subjectively as necessary”.