WineIntro Ethics and Review Policy
Since I began writing about wine on the web, back in 1992 or so (in the "early days"!), I have taken an extremely strong stance on review copies of wine bottles. I had read about many scandals in which wine writers were hand provided with the absolute best bottles of wine, taken from special wine libraries, that no mere mortal could ever have seen. They were reviewing wines which had nothing at all to do with what the normal wine drinker could access. It bothered me greatly that many wine writers routinely seek out cases of free wine to drink, and then write these wines up in glowing terms, claiming this would be a regular wine drinker's experience.
I go in quite the opposite direction. I buy pretty much EVERY SINGLE BOTTLE I drink. Yes, my local wine shops adore me. I buy wines I find on their shelves, or I visit wineries and buy wines on their shelves. The bottles I choose are right there on the same rack with the bottles other people choose. They are not maintained in a special climate-controlled environment. They are not shielded from vibration or noise or light. The experience I have as a wine drinker will be the exact same experience you have as a wine drinker.
Yes, I often use Riedel glassware for my tastings - this is Riedel glassware I bought myself for the purpose. The decanters I use, the wine books I own in my library, they are items I have bought over the years and enjoy on a personal level as well as sharing my experiences with them with you, my loyal visitors.
There are a few specific situations where someone sends me a review book to read through and provide feedback on. In those specific cases I will make a note on the review that the item was received for free. In a way this may be overkill - these same books are available at public libraries and ANYBODY could get the book for free to read and enjoy if they wish. Still, I like to make things clear to my readers.
Also, there are a few specific situations in which someone sends me a "wine device" - for example a magnetic instant-wine-ager - which they want me to give them feedback on. Often the device is not yet on the market. Again, I will state in those examples that the device was provided to me for free for that testing purpose. However, these are the exceptions, not the rule.
When I show photos of wineries, they are photos I took myself, when I went out to visit the winery. The notes on the winery are my own notes, written as I walked the soil, breathed in the aroma of the grapes, and experienced the winery's landscape for myself, first hand. I feel strongly that the reason people come to my website is to read my opinion on issues - not to be fed a regurgitated press release.
I realize many wine sites out there actively exist to draw in cases of free wine for their writers. To me that is like trusting a restaurant review from someone who knows the chef and who sits at the "Chef's Table" while specially created treats are brought to them. The experience that diner is having is nothing at all what a normal, average person would experience when they tried to visit the restaurant. I very much want to write about what YOU the reader will find when you open wines, when you visit wineries, and when you enjoy the world of wine. The only way, honorably and ethically, that I can do that is to deliberately do things in the exact way you would.
In December 2009 - after a FTC ruling that recipients of "free product" had to start making that clear to their readers - many wine writers began scrambling to explain to their readers why they receive case after case of free wine to drink. I do not have that issue here. My policy is the same as it has always been. I pay for my wine. I buy it from a wine store. The results I get are easily and simply verifiable. They are results every wine drinker out there could replicate, from their own store.
Yes, it costs money for me to do this. However, I don't run this wine site to make me oodles of money and to get myself cases of free wine. Instead, I run WineIntro.com to provide high quality, trustworthy information to my millions of loyal readers, with as few ads as possible. I greatly respect the trust and belief you have invested in me, and I strive to prove myself anew to you every day.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions at all!
-- Lisa Shea
Contact Lisa Shea