This is perhaps not an actual list of frequently asked questions and their answers, but rather an evolving statement of principles that guide the work on this site, subject to near-constant modification.

Wine writing vs. wine criticism

Wine writing enlightens, educates, opines and tells. It encompasses wine criticism, the definition of which is self-explanatory. All wine criticism is wine writing, but the reverse is not true.

The philosophy of wine criticism

Criticism is simply the expression of opinion. It does not necessarily seek to educate or enlighten. It is inherently and inalterably subjective. It is not fair, nor is it balanced. And it is a complicated subject.

What is a tasting note?

A tasting note is a subjective expression of a single person’s experience of a single wine at a single moment, framed by experience, bias and context and communicated in whatever fashion the person sees fit.

The importance of negativity

It is possible that there exist people who like everything. It is known that many subscribe to the “if you can’t say anything nice, say nothing at all” doctrine. For the rest of us, negativity is a simple fact of life. Why should wine be exempt?

The myth of objectivity

There are many things that can be said about wine that are clearly objective. There are many things that can be said about wine that are arguably objective, and among these are some of the most controversial aspects of wine. But taste and the opinions thus derived are subjective, and anyone who tells you otherwise is, at best, wrong.


Everyone is biased to some degree. Those who tell you otherwise are lying. At the other end of that link are some of the biases of the author, though I don’t pretend that it’s a complete list; some biases are subconscious.

The ethics of wine criticism

The only question that matters is: do you trust the critic to give their honest opinion, or at least tell you why they can’t? Everything else is marketing and obfuscation.

The myth of independence

Someday, someone who doesn’t even know what wine is and who has never tasted it before is going to get a job as a wine columnist for a major publication, tasting and writing while living in a sensory deprivation chamber.. Until that grim day, there’s no such thing as independence. There are only degrees, and none are free of complications.

Practices & methodology

Every writer works differently, and sometimes the differences matter. A more open dialogue about such matters can head off bitter recriminations later. Here’s what goes on at oenoLogic.


No, this isn’t a answer to a frequently asked question. But tooting one’s own horn is so unseemly. Plus, with the breathlessness and the dizzyness…anyway, isn’t it better to let others do the heavy horn work?


  • jeannie rogers

    September 17, 2013

    hi Thor been thinking about you where do you live now?

    • thor iverson

      December 3, 2014

      Jeannie, I somehow missed this comment for well over a year now. Apologies!

      I’m in Philadelphia these days. How are you?


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