Consumer Reviews trump Professional Reviews
Do you trust a consumer review more than a professional review? Do you care more about what your friends think or what professionals think? Will a consumer review out perform a professional review?
I was watching Sex and the City Saturday night on TV. (Okay I don't watch TV much, and my wife had it on). A stranger's facial expression seemed to worry Carrie Bradshaw more than a professional book review.
When I pick a movie, I tend to listen to my friends' opinions and could really care less about the professional reviews. When I rent a video, I ask the checkout clerk if the video is good and often listen to his/her opinion.
I've been in a wine store and asked the clerk if they have had the bottle of wine that I'm contemplating and what they thought about it. I often pick up a bottle of wine because a friend mentioned it, or perhaps I read something on twitter or in a blog.
In today's manufactured society, I crave for something more real and real comes from other consumers rather than professionals.
I think a professional review gives customers the the confidence that they are getting into a decent wine, then they can use that as a base. Consumer reviews help to consolidate the professional or call them out when they don't actually take the time to do their job right. I am not saying that you need one or the other, but they compliment each other and play slightly different roles. Getting one type of review on your site is nice, getting both types is awesome.
I follow this approach in my wine club tastings: http://sfwinesociety.com .
That said, it would be good to have a wine version of rottentomatoes.com