Sometimes I’m asked, how do you review the pies? What do the categories mean? What are you looking for in a good pie? Just how boozy does it have to be to be too boozy?
So, in advance of review season, I thought I’d write a little guide to the reviews so we’re all singing off the same hymn sheet.
Packaging is super important. It’s what makes you salivate when you look at the box. It’s what makes you excited to buy when you’re walking around the supermarket. It’s when you start to visualise yourself sat on your chair, with a nice cup of tea, your mince pie and a book. It gives you the Christmas vibe. It’s the beginning of the journey.
In short, if the packaging is bad, you can often assume the pies are a bit duff too.
Here’s an example of good and bad:
Why good? It’s colourful, Christmassy, has a window to actually show the pies, contains the magic words ‘contains alcohol’. What’s not to like?
Why is the other bad? Well, it could easily be a steak pie box for a start. The label on the left and bottom right indicate mince pies. It’s simply not a Christmas box. Now, to be fair, there is a window in this box which shows the pies and it is from a bakery so I will tend to make an allowance for that, but you get the point.
Packaging is rated out of 10 and is labelled ‘Pa’ on the league table.
Presentation, well it’s just like packaging right? Well, no. Presentation, in this context, is all about how the mince pies are presented. Are they in a nice gold cardboard tray or is it a cheap red plastic tray? Are the buys crumbling to pieces in the box? What kind of decoration is on the lid of the pie? Does simply opening the box leave a pile of extra sugar lying on the floor? Do the lids correct fit the base? Is mincemeat squeezing out of the tops? Are the pies burnt? Is there a soggy bottom? Do they look appealing?
Easy really. Here’s a good/bad example:
Presentation is once more, rated out of 10 and is ‘Pr’ on the league tables.
This is the category that wishes it was the taste test and isn’t. It’s a judgement of how much filling there is, is it chunky and fruity or is it a wet liquified goo with a vaguely mince pie flavour? Most importantly, does it smell boozy? This isn’t a category that gets it’s own pictures and it’s mostly subjective. If there is going to be a picture though, it’ll be like this:
It’s rated out of 10 and, you’ll never guess, shows up as ‘Fi’ on the league table.
This is the key, this can swing a whole review. It’s entirely subjective, but a few key things I’m looking at here are. Does the pastry stick to the top of your mouth? Is the pastry crunchy or flakey or soft and under-baked? Is the taste boozy or fruity or overly-spiced? Is it ridiculously sweet?
Generally we’re looking for nicely balanced flavours, with a real sense of Christmas about it, some fruity and boozy kick is mostly preferred.
Taste is rated out of 20 to reflect the fact it’s far more important than anything else. It’s ‘TT’ on the league tables.
Well, this is hardly rocket science this bit. It’s all of the scores, added together which means every mince pie is rated out of 50. And I’ll try to think of something pithy to close the review with, but more often than not I’m in a hurry and have a cup of tea going cold.
So hopefully this helps you understand our reviews, happy to take feedback on the system, comments can be added below.