Now, I’m no fan of scores either, but the reality is that change is still far away. Shelf talkers in almost every wine-store aisle still tout the critics’ numbers, and consumers still buy wines based on those numbers. The reason people cling to scores is fairly obvious: What is their alternative? Obscure tasting notes about aromas and flavors? How does the average drinker choose wines in a post-score world? Wine critics around the world seem to be searching for the answer.
In Italy, the Slow Food movement published its first English-language guide to Italian wines, “Slow Wine 2012: A Year in the Life of Italy’s Vineyards and Wines,” the second edition of which will be published by Slow Food Editore and distributed by Chelsea Green late next month. “Slow Wine” introduces readers to more than 400 wine producers and more than 3,000 wines.
“We have abandoned the very easy-to-understand, but ultimately also trivializing, method of awarding points and sought to look beyond the glass,” write Giancarlo Gariglio and Fabio Giavedoni, the editors, in their introduction to the “Slow Wine 2012” guide. “What matters is wine’s soul.”
So what is “Slow Wine’s” revolutionary methodology? Wineries are rated with a rather confusing array of symbols: snails (for exemplifying Slow Food values), bottles (for excellent quality) and coins (for good value). And then there is a short narrative broken into three sections: People, Vineyards and Wines. “Story-telling is the key concept underpinning our approach,” write Gariglio and Giavedoni.
Storytelling is Slow Food’s stock in trade. The 130,000-member worldwide organization, as many know, was started by activist Carlo Petrini in the late 1980s in response to the opening of a McDonald’s near the Spanish Steps in Rome. The Slow Food manifesto calls for a “good, clean and fair” model of food production and protests fast food, industrial food and homogenization. Its logo, the snail, has become a sort of Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for the eco-gastronomy set.