Wikipedia:Wikipedia is not a wine guide
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|This page in a nutshell: What is appropriate for a wine guide is not always appropriate for an encyclopedia.|
In "Death in the Afternoon", Ernest Hemingway wrote "Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing." . As a topic, wine has been written about for centuries and the individual tastes and experiences of the authors have undoubtedly colored the portrayal of this ancient beverage. On Wikipedia, as editors we have volunteered to expand the world's knowledge of this beverage and the people, places and processes that are devoted to it. As with every article, Wikipedia's core policies of Verifiability, No original research and Neutral point of view should always be at the forefront of our editing but we must be aware of the unique aspect that wine articles have.
Wikipedia is not a wine guide
This means that no one should consider Wikipedia a source for finding out which grapes or wines are the "best" and what they should be drinking. As editors, our focus should be on writing articles that adequately inform the reader about the subject. Articles should not give our personal recommendation on which wines are superior, what region has the best terroir, or what vintages are better than others. Enjoying wine is a matter of personal taste and what one drinker likes could be a complete turn off for another. Wikipedia's wine articles should strive for the highest level of NPOV, which can be particularly challenging due to the abundance of reliable sources available on wine related subjects. In many situations an article can be very well referenced and free of original research, but may be decided as POV in its presentation.
Some common mistakes in wine articles
Below are some common mistakes seen in wine articles.
List of good vintages and wine magazine ratings
Often an article about a winery or vineyard will list several vintages that were reportedly declared "excellent" by a wine critic or publication. With well known and prestigious wine makers like the Bordeaux First Growths, this list can get quite long as there are always critics or magazines that can give favorable "ratings" to a wine. The very nature of wine rating systems can lead to a wide disparity in how a wine or vintage is rated and is often very subjective. Inclusion of "good vintages" and wine ratings also introduces a particular POV into the article as it is elevating some critic's opinion over others. Furthermore, the main interest in wine ratings and vintage is normally tied into an interest in knowing what wine to buy or drink-which again, is not what Wikipedia articles are about.
It is encouraged that Wikipedia wine articles avoid listing vintages unless there is something particularly unique and notable about that vintage apart from the assessment of a few wine critics. An example would be a Port wine vintage from the Douro Valley that all the major port houses declare vintage on. For some houses, declaring a vintage is a rare occurrence and could merit inclusion. A vintage that was part of an historical event like the 1907 vintage of Heidsieck & Co Monopole that was recovered under the Gulf of Finland intact after sitting in a sunken vessel for over 80 years could be worthy of inclusion. Any "historical" designation should be one that can be easily verified with multiple non-trivial sources.
Awards and competitions
Wineries often highlight wine competitions that they participated in, and awards or medals that their wines have won. Be aware that there are thousands of wine competitions around the world every year, and that these events typically award prizes in multiple areas (e.g., red wine, dessert wine). Wikipedia articles should generally avoid listing wine awards, as it can give undue weight to the importance of a particular wine or winery. Articles must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), and a reader may perceive that a wine or winery that has won an award as superior, not realizing the multitude of prizes given out each year. An exception to the rule can be made if a winery participated in a historic international competition (e.g, Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855) that had a either worldwide audience or a substantial influence on winemaking. Such events typically have their own Wikipedia articles.
Often in wine articles you will see the appearance of weasel words in describing some aspect of the subject like "Some have considered..." and "It has been long thought that...". The policies of Verifiability and No original research compels editors to attach these sentiments to an individual, group, book, or study that has published these views with an attached source citation. It is very easy for an editor to mask their own personal views (even subconsciously) into an article with the aide of weasel words. We must consciously work to not only avoid them but to fix and remove them when spotted.
Opinionated and slanted writing
With wine being a matter of taste, it is as easy to find one critic disparaging a particular wine, grape, region or vineyard as it is to find one extolling its praises. As a general rule of thumb, editors should avoid as much as possible any overtly positive or negative presentation. But in the instance where there is an encyclopedic relevance (such as the diverging views on Chardonnay) every effort should be made to present a balanced perspective that doesn't come across as either hostile or sympathetic to its subject-Per WP:NPOV.
In order to build a comprehensive source about wine, our Wikipedia articles should include details about the general characteristics of a wine or a grape varietal. However, there is a fine line between listing characteristics and listing tasting notes. Characteristics are more generalized and can be found consistently in several non-trivial reliable sources. There should be consideration for the changing characteristics in a grape varietal from one region to the next such as with Sauvignon blanc and the distinct differences between a New Zealand Sauvignon blanc and a Californian one.
List of wineries
Per WP:LIST the purpose of lists on Wikipedia is for Information, Navigation, and Development and are obviously subjected to relevant Wikipedia policy for notability and inclusion. Of particular note is the policy of WP:NOT#DIRECTORY which speaks to the heart of the matter of Wikipedia not being a wine guide since the primary function of the commercial wine guide is to be a listing of wineries and wines. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia; there is little encyclopedic benefit to having a listing of commercial wineries. In fact, such lists typically cross the line into spam advertising especially since the vast majority of wineries do not pass WP:CORP and would be nothing more than a red link on a list - diminishing the ability of such a list to provide Information, Navigation and Development.
A non-spamlist alternative to listing wineries in a particular region is to find a suitable external link to be placed in the appropriate External link section of the article.
Notability of wineries
The notability guideline Wikipedia:Notability (organizations and companies) gives much consideration to a winery that has been the subject of multiple non-trivial, reliable published works. However, the abundance of "non-trivial and reliable published works" in the world of wine presents a challenge for determining whether a particular wine business warrants an article in Wikipedia, because this requirement could be "technically" met by many non-notable wineries. Therefore, Wikipedia should include articles on only those wineries with some substantial degree of notability and contribution to the wine world. Generally, a winery should have coverage greater than that what would normally be expected in the industry, similar to a restaurant needing more than local reviews or profiles to be considered notable.
- E. Hemingway Death in the Afternoon Scribner Publication Reprint 1996 ISBN 0684801450