“How many times have you read a concert review in the newspaper and found you have no idea what the reviewer is saying? “Her sustained appoggiatura was flawed by an inability to complete the roulade” Or, “I can’t believe they modulated to C-sharp minor! How ridiculous!” What we really want to know is whether the music was performed in a way that moved the audience.” - Levitin, Daniel J. This Is Your Brain on Music. New York: Penguin Group, 2006
Over the last dozen or so years one of the “new” themes in corporate America has been the Value Proposition (VP), also sometimes called the Value Statement. The VP is supposed to be a short pithy statement that tells the world what you do and the value that you bring. Corporations spend million of dollars trying to define what they do, the value that they offer, and then reduce that research into a short statement.
If you have never tried to write a VP you don’t realize both how hard it is to do and how much it runs counter to human abilities. People are excellent at breaking an issue into components, but generally poor at creating meaningful summations. To illustrate the difficulty in writing a VP, try writing one for your relationship with your family. You might start out by saying things like, “Well I take out the trash; I mow the lawn; I change the light bulbs; I go to work”. These are the things you do, but they are not your VP to your family. A personal VP for your relationship to your family might be something like, “I provide the financial, emotional, operational, and moral stability for my spouse and children so that they can have the fullest life possible.” Listing what you do is easy, but summing those activities up into the value they provide is hard.
Wine tasting notes come in two flavors: the personal tasting note and the public tasting note. Thirty to forty years ago almost all tasting notes were private notes as there was really no extensive way to share, so the format of the notes was not an issue. Thirty years ago a private tasting could have read as follows:
27 X Wide Flanker Right Right Drop on Three
While this might have meant a lot to the writer, and to the Offensive Coordinator at Alcorn State, it would have meant absolutely nothing to the rest of the world. In the 1970s the first of the U.S. based wine review newsletters started publication. Around the same time, articles began to appear about the benefit of tasting notes following a specific structure. The theory went that if all tasting notes tended to follow a similar structure, then the wine community would benefit from a common “language”. In large part the goal of a common “language” for tasting notes has been successful. Tasting notes from most major publications are substantially the same.
The two most common formats for wine reviews are the numerical format and the take-it-in-order format. Previous PTC entries on writing a wine tasting note may be found in the How To Taste & Talk Wine Series.
There are several numerical formats for scoring wine, but the one most widely used is the 100 point scale. In the 100 point scale a wine is given 50 points for showing up, a maximum of 5 points for color, a maximum of 10 points for the nose, a maximum of 15 points for the taste, a maximum of 10 points for the finish, and a maximum of 10 points for the overall impression. Using the 100 point scale a wine review might be as simple as:
50 + 5 (color) + 2 (nose) + 12 (taste) + 2 (finish) + 6 (overall) = 77 points
From this score you would derive that the wine tasted fine but did not have much aroma or much in the way of a finish, but still struck the reviewer as an okay wine. It is, of course, obvious that a numerical score does not tell you much about the wine. Numerical scales in and of themselves were never meant to replace written notes; rather the intention was to provide a quantitative distinction between two wines that were similar. Alas, as is often the case, the numerical score often came to be the only review of a wine that mattered.