Expert, trustworthy, and consistent are the three cornerstones of the reviewing process at The Wine Independent. In practical terms, this means that expert critics only qualify to work for us if they are completely independent. The Wine Independent covers all travel, accommodation, and subsistence costs associated with reviewing wines for our publication. We do not accept any payments, sponsorship, gifts, or gifts in kind from wineries or anybody associated with the sale, distribution, or promotion of wines. We do not permit any wine-related advertising on our website.
Our business model is back-to-basics. We offer two types of subscriptions: one for consumers and one for trade. The trade subscription offers multiple log-ins and a license to reproduce our written material. There is no pay to play. Wineries do not need to pay us or even be a subscriber to get their wines reviewed. We offer no type of subscription that allows selected retailers to get ‘previews’ of our reviews. And we will not ask wineries to pay to participate in events.
This is not to say that we will never host tasting experiences for our readers. We are very much interested in furthering and elevating the experience of wine in interactive ways. What’s important is that we will do so in a way that prevents conflicts of interest, and that maintains our neutrality with regard to the wineries.
Part of our code of ethics is complete transparency to all our subscribers. We are ready to answer any questions about our business. We have a small group of Swedish investors who own 25% of the company. Johan Berglund and Lisa Perrotti-Brown equally own 75% of the company and control the voting rights. This way, we can always maintain and guarantee our integrity.
We have highlighted some of the current business practices of other publications not to be critical of them or of individual critics who work there, but rather to let you know that this is not how our model works.
We aim to taste the wines in their peer groups, meaning that the same or similar regions, grape varieties, styles, and vintages are tasted together in flights. Occasionally, we will taste blind, but this is often neither practical nor necessarily the best means of assessing wines. Because we are highly experienced regional experts and without any agenda that could create bias, we do not consider it essential to taste blind. In most cases, judging the wine in the context of our experience of other bottles/vintages results in a better assessment.
We also travel to the regions we review many times each year to produce accurate vintage assessments and understand the dynamics that led to what we taste in the glass. We go to great lengths to bring our readers the story behind the wine, with detailed written and visual reports. Occasionally, we conduct barrel tastings, as is the case with the production of our annual Bordeaux en primeur report. Which wineries we visit depends entirely on the discretion of our critics.