How best to rate SA wine

By , 23 December 2019




Michael Fridjhon of provides a provocative analysis of the latest Platter’s, particularly concerning the significance of the guide’s ultimate accolade, the 5-Star rating. He writes:

    “A quick look through the list of wines the Guide has now given its top accolade to shows a strong bias towards small batch artisanal selections…”

And later:

    “My impression this year is that the end result reflects an excessive swing away from styles – and wineries – whose best wines are no less impressive but which are produced in larger-than-ultra-boutique quantities.”

Fridjhon makes the point that the guide judges far more wines than any other ratings agency and inevitably many of the wines presented to the guide are rarely submitted elsewhere. For various reasons, an over-eagerness has arisen among the tasters to reward the “small-batch [and] geeky”.

It’s not clear to Fridjhon how to rectify matters other than all parties concerned making a collective effort to see the guide’s findings in less absolute terms.

Doing good by all sectors of the industry when it comes to ratings is, of course, something that constantly occupies our minds here at We were at one point going to limit ratings on the site only to those wines for which producers had paid an entry fee (something that Fridjhon makes reference to in his article) but after an overwhelming reader response, we have stepped back from this decision.

To be completely clear, we will continue with our hybrid model combining the outcome of sighted tastings conducted by me as editor on an ad hoc basis with the more formal findings that were generated by a three-person panel tasting blind.

The advantage of this model is that it’s flexible. Different sorts of producers need ratings for different reasons – a start-up needs a big score to put it on the map whereas an established, large-scale producer is often less concerned about the actual score and simply wants to be seen at the top of the quality stakes when measured against peers on a regular basis.

We also need to re-iterate that there has been a commitment from readers to pay for content in order to underpin the site as business entity. Our respectful suggestion is a financial contribution is R600 a year or R50 a month and to date, we’ve had just over 100 people pledge their support. We are most appreciative, but we still have a long way to go to reach our target of R300 000 by the end of 2020.

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4 comment(s)

Please read our Comments Policy here.

    Carlos | 1 January 2020

    You want me to pay you for content, but you shut down and don’t post anything over the festive season? Holidays? Taking a break?

    Not good enough. You want to be treated like professionals? Act like it. I don’t prop up the Mickey Mouse Club with my money.

      Kwispedoor | 3 January 2020

      Carlos, I’m not sure why you take the aggressive and demeaning tone that you do. You seem very unhappy. Do you do a full day’s work for every day of the year? If you do, it might explain why you are so unhappy.

      You don’t take issue with Christian for taking a weekly rest day on Sundays, so I’ll presume that you are okay with that and it’s just the festive period downtime that ruffles your feathers so incredibly. Perhaps you can take a discount and only pay like R40 in the months of December and January – problem solved, right? 😂

      Restaurant Mosaic closes its doors if Chantal is not there to cook. Surely you understand that Christian writes the reviews himself and doesn’t want someone to stand in for him when he takes a break at the end of the year. I deal with many companies that shut down completely over this period and they are far from Mickey Mouse operations.

      Considering other excellent contributors’ offerings and sometimes multiple daily reviews, I reckon this site averages quite a bit more than an entry per day. How many decent wine blogs can claim that?

      Professionalism? can do with even less of that, if you ask me, but it easily delivers value to my miserly R50 per month and I think that is the important bit.

      Christian Eedes | 4 January 2020

      Hi Carlos, Historically, we have found that there is a dip in traffic over the holiday season regardless of how much we post and given a permanent staff of just two people it makes sense for us to be on leave at this time. Normal service will be renewed on Monday 6 January and we hope that you will reconsider supporting us with a financial contribution.

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