Code of Conduct & Valuation Process

We are delighted to be able to say that wotwine.com is completely free to use. All our recommendations to our users are reached via consensus by our professional in-house tasting team and are unbiased, objective and free from outside influence.

How do we assess value?

We define “value” as a measure of both quality and price. Our start point is a careful assessment of quality without being influenced by knowing the price at which a wine is being retailed, who has made it , or where it is being sold. We judge wines by taste comparison amongst their peers from different retailers of the same type, origin, appellation or varietal.

After many years working in the industry we know the cost of production, cost of ageing, cost of packaging, shipping, marketing, duty and tax, retail margin levels, and the premium that famous vineyards can command. Armed with this level of knowledge, we then look at what is available to the consumer and at what price.

As well as tasting comparatively wines from the biggest supermarket chains, we add in some “benchmarks” from the same wine type and vintage from the Wine Society (which we feel offers very good value by and large) and from some specialist retailers and wine merchants.

We do this to try and be as fair and objective as possible, but as over 80% of the retail volume of wine is bought from supermarkets, our app is designed to help these consumers.  After all, the immense buying power of a supermarket should generate some excellent value.

Value for money is what we believe the consumer really needs help with. One of the most frequent scenarios is, for example, when a wine is normally on the shelf for £10.99. Is that reasonable value? When it is promoted to £4.99 is that really fantastic value? Or is the wine only really worth £4.00 anyway?

The supermarket wines we are valuing generally cost between £3.00 and £30.00. We would accept that trying to put a value on famous collectable wines the way we do would not take into account such important influences as market forces, ability for a wine to age and develop, or scarcity.  But we are, afterall, evaluating the mass-market end of the business.  Shelf price by no means always reflects quality and value and we often find very well made, honest and simple wines at £4.00, and poorly made over-cropped wines at £10.00. We even find disappointing famous name wines at £30.00.

Our tasting method

We believe our tasting method and process is as sound, fair and rigorous as any other. We try to be balanced helpful and not sensationalist in the way we evaluate wines. Below we explain how it works:

  1. The vast majority of wines we taste are purchased from regular supermarket shelves, mainly in Greater London. They are not as presented at press tastings or in competitions. These wines are paid for by wotwine? in order to be totally impartial.  Occasionally a retailer may send us samples of a new line not yet available on the shelves or if they wish us to re-taste, (wine is a living product and it is possible to find less than pristine bottles on the shelf), however the wines we have been sent and not bought ourselves represent less than 0.5% of the wines we have tasted.
  2. Wines are presented to tasters, as far as possible, in flights of the same type, appellation, and varietal from a range of what is available from the largest nine supermarkets. Only the wine name and vintage are divulged, not the producer, retailer or the price, or even the price range.
  3. The tasters are a mixed group of professionals and gifted amateurs who love wine. We do this to reflect a range of tastes and views and knowledge. The tasters then score the wines and discuss the quality level, merits and de-merits thereby reaching consensus.
  4. The scores are for internal use as many consumers are confused by scores (for example, a very well-made simple Bourgogne blanc can be scored highly, whilst a mediocre Puligny might be scored badly).
  5. There are many criteria which get taken into account in our quality evaluation. In addition to the obvious ones of a wine being clean and fault free, such things as typicity, genuineness, complexity, persistence and balance are looked at. We also try to look for more subjective traits such as character or elegance.
  6. Having comparatively evaluated the quality, the tasting team then discuss and agree what is a fair value in the context of the wine’s category: what we would be prepared to pay and how that stacks up against the other wines being tasted. This is clearly not a totally precise science, but reviewing our values when we re-taste from two years ago, there is a reassuring consistency.

Because we are not so arrogant as to believe that we always get it 100% spot on, we encourage users and producers to advise us if they feel we have been unfair and should re-evaluate a wine. This happens occasionally but is rarely taken up by producers. Faults, sometimes marginal, are taken into account and balanced against the positive aspects of a wine.  Inevitably we find some faulty wine at every tasting, the most common issues being:

– “Reductive smells”  which can be slight or pronounced “off” smells (cabbage, burnt rubber, etc.) which we tend to note in a review as “pongy” or “slightly pongy”. On the other hand we also find some oxidative problems.

– On occasion we find obvious sulphur dioxide smells as well as TCA taint from cork (corkiness) although this is now rare.

– Light problems (particularly with clear glass), that producers call “light struck’ or “gout de lumiere” we often come across and we are keen that this avoidable issue is addressed by producers and retailers alike.

– We will re-sample a wine if we believe it is not representative. If we find persistent problems we contact the producer and/or retailer so that they can try to correct them. We are pleased and proud to work with producers and retailers on quality issues to limit the inevitable faults for the consumer’s benefit.

How do we earn income?

–  Supermarkets cannot pay to have us recommend a particular wine on our website, but where we do make a recommendation and we can find an affiliate link to it, we will try and earn some revenue. We are a business after all and have costs like any other.

–  We also get revenue from supermarkets for non-specific product links , e.g. “25% of all wine” offers. In those cases we will happily create a paid link to their wine shop.

–  We do NOT recommend a wine just because we can get a paid link for it, indeed some retailers do not have on-line shopping and affiliate links at all, so we cannot earn revenue from them, but this does not affect our reviews or recommendations. If we find a cracking wine and want to shout from the rooftops about it we will do so, regardless of whether we get paid or not.

–  We will take  banner advertising on our website, but not for any specific wine, wine producers or wine retailers.

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