Prime Women, March 19, 2016 Food & Wine
by Tricia Conover
The First Women-Led Wine Rating Panel Aims to Take the Guesswork out of Wine Purchasing
(KA-thuh-rin FAH-lis) Catherine Fallis, MS, the 5th woman in the world to be named a Master Sommelier, has launched a new women-led wine-rating panel. In a Q&A last week, we discussed the advantages to the consumer of her Wine Review launch. Given Catherine’s background as a woman pioneer in the wine industry, you get a sense of Catherine’s understanding of Prime Women wine consumers everywhere. Catherine is known as the “Grape Goddess,” a memorable name that reflects her relaxed, down-to-earth approach to wine and her extraordinary wine expertise.
Catherine Fallis, MS has announced the launch of Planet Grape Wine Review – the only woman-led wine rating panel in the USA. Leading a tasting panel of highly accredited beverage professionals, Catherine will employ the 100-point system to evaluate and score wine, spirits, beer, cider, and gourmet products from around the world. The use of numerical scores coupled with her clear, concise verbiage is aimed at bringing a sensible, practical approach to wine reviews and providing a trusted resource for today’s wine drinkers. In addition to the weekly blog and educational components that Planet Grape is known for, wine drinkers can access these expert reviews on the Planet Grape Wine Review website, as well as access them with major retailers through her partnership with Drync, a top commerce app for wine, spirits and beer.
Along with Catherine Fallis, MS the rating panel includes contributors and guests such as Dr. Liz Thach, Master of Wine and a Professor of Management at Sonoma State College, Deborah Parker Wong, WSET, Diploma of Wine and Northern California Editor of The Tasting Panel and SOMM Journal, Fred Swan, WSET, Diploma of Wine and wine writer, Lisa Granik, Master of Wine, and Rich Higgins, Master Cicerone & Brewmaster.
The simplicity and usefulness of Planet Grape® Wine review is discussed below in our Q&A. A recent example is of the wine review style:
Catherine Fallis, MS is the author of leading publications including: Champagne & Sparkling Wine, the Grape Goddess guides to good living.
In 2014, Catherine gave PRiME Women tips on Sparkling Wine: “Affordable, Festive Sparkling Wine and Champagne”
Catherine Fallis is a well-know educator and consultant to restaurants, retailers, distributors, wine collectors, and sommelier students. One of Catherine’s most celebrated services is her Champagne Sabering for special events, a tradition started by Napoleon’s soldiers that Catherine continues today.
This Wine Review website is the first of its kind. “The goal at Planet Grape is to provide a trusted resource for consumers who enjoy wine, who are excited to be more adventurous with their choices and who are looking for some guidance,” says Catherine. “We put our palates on the line so you don’t have to!” Although in the past Catherine eschewed the 100-point system when she was creating restaurant wine programs while choosing to rely on her own palate, Planet Grape assigns a numerical point score to each product. After being asked by numerous clients to evaluate and score private library collections as well as new releases, she has seen how useful the numeric ratings are for consumers. In her role as a consumer advocate, she has become a convert.
Q&A with Catherine Fallis, MS
Question (Tricia Conover): Tell me about the new numerical scoring system you have announced?
Answer (Catherine Fallis, MS): We are using a 100-Point systems because everyone is used to it from Robert Parker, Wine Spectator and others. But the difference is we are a women-led team and our comments are about the size of a Tweet and a half at 220 characters. No technical terms are allowed. This is aimed at the wine consumer and our comments capture the personality of the wine. For instance, one of our recent reviews of Bollinger Brut Rosé Champagne was clear and concise: http://winereview.planetgrape.com/oldworldwine_reviews/bollinger-brut-rose-champagne/
Question (TC): Tell me about your evaluation process.
Answer (CF): Acknowledging that it is impossible to capture the heart and soul of a wine in a quick 5-minute evaluation, my fellow panelists and I employ the “grape goddess 3-day rule.” Wines are reviewed several times over the course of three days without the use of any preservation system to see how they evolve, change and open, allowing them to show their full personality. When possible, the wines are tasted with food. What we have found is that the screw cap wines have gotten better because they have been oxygen deprived. Drink them for two to three more days. Well-made younger wines tend to be taught and “closed”, so by the second or their day, they open up and get better. We have found that the inexpensive, commercially made wines fall apart even more over the course of three days. Those are the so-called “manufactured or industrial wines.”
Question (TC): How does your scoring work on “Value Wines?”
Answer (CF): We have a built-in “Good Value” proposition. If wine is a good value, the point score gets better. There is a value algorithm built right in. If a wine is in $10 range and is delivering a $20 value, we will bump it up a point or two.
Question (TC): How have you seen the adoption of this program?
Answer (CF): We are early in program but so far adoption is good. There has been a positive reaction from the press and from the trade and retailers. Now, we are focused on reaching the consumer. There is no club and you do not have to subscribe to our website. It is a free service for consumers.
Question (TC): What else would you want the PRiME Woman to know?
Answer (CF): We are an educational resource. Think of us as an “Somm…in your pocket.” Our short reviews are a credentialed voice but stated in everyday language. We take the intimidation out of buying wine and want to give the consumer a sense of comfort in making wine choices.