Wine Ratings – What do those numbers mean to you?

Wine Ratings – What do those numbers mean to you?

There’s a lot of controversy about the wine rating “numbers” and whether they really represent an objective assessment of the quality of the wine. (There are lots of insider deals between the “raters” and the “wine makers” – so be skeptical about the numbers.) Example from Wine Spectator.com: (Is 3 points really worth $55?)

Different publications rate wines based on a 100-point scale during controlled tests. Sounds like school! Well-known publications that do this include the Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Wines & Spirits, and Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate. In theory, tastings are often conducted “blind,” meaning the tasters do not know what they are tasting. They may be provided with some basic information such as the wine’s varietal, region and/or vintage. (Keep this in mind when you have a party holding blind tastings.)

Wine Spectator‘s 100-Point Scale is a typical example:

  • 95-100 — Classic; a great wine
  • 90-94 — Outstanding; superior character and style
  • 80-89 — Good to very good; wine with special qualities
  • 70-79 — Average; drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
  • 60-69 — Below average; drinkable but not recommended
  • 50-59 — Poor; undrinkable, not recommended

The wine is rated on various criteria. Each criterion has a multiplier, and then the final score is added up. Wines are usually rated on four criteria in this order:

  1. Appearance
  2. Aroma
  3. Taste
  4. Harmony

Here is an example of how this works:

Wine Rating Tasting Sheet

Wine (include name, varietal, region, vintage, price, importer and/or any other characteristic important to you): Vigoroso Buono, Sangiovese, Tuscany, 2004, $24

Name of taster: Maria

Date: February 14

Criteria Scale Score Circle the score for each criterion. Multiplier Score times Multiplier
Appearance (how it looks – cleanness, clarity, color) 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10 1 5
Aroma (how it smells, the “nose”) 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10 2 12
Taste (how it feels in your mouth – intensity, body) 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10 3 21
Harmony (how you experience it overall, roundness, quality) 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10 4 24
Total Score 91-100 points – Superb81-90 points – Excellent71-80 points – Very Good61-70 points – Good51-60 points – Ordinary50 and under – Undrinkable   62

 

Understanding the rating system, and your personal preferences, can help you buy wine more knowledgably. However, what’s important is what tastes good to you.

While we remain skeptical about the experts’ ratings, we have found winedogs enjoy rating wines at parties. You can have a fun party comparing your assessment of the wine with the so-called “experts’” numbers – just be sure you cover up the published rating number until after you’ve tasted and scored the wine yourself. Use the following worksheet as a handout for each guest. Use a larger worksheet on a wall where you can write in the average rating score of your guests and the covered up expert score.

Wine Rating Tasting Sheet

Wine (include name, varietal, region, vintage, price, importer and/or any other characteristic important to you):

Name of taster:

Date:

Criteria Scale Score Circle the score for each criterion. Multiplier Score times Multiplier
Appearance (how it looks – cleanness, clarity, color) 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10 1  
Aroma (how it smells, the “nose”) 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10 2  
Taste (how it feels in your mouth – intensity, body) 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10 3  
Harmony (how you experience it overall, roundness, quality) 1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10 4  
Total Score 91-100 points – Superb81-90 points – Excellent71-80 points – Very Good61-70 points – Good51-60 points – Ordinary50 and under – Undrinkable    

 

We think drinking wine is like traveling. You have to keep exploring to find out what you like. You may have your old favorite haunts, but discovering a new place is so exciting and wonderful. And just like your appreciation of a certain place can change over time, one’s palate may also change. We believe that change makes life better. Ever the optimists!

A votre santé! Cin Cin! Cheers! Wen Lie! Slainte! Ooggy Wawa! Tulleeho!

Jean Sifleet and Susanne Flynn aka The Winedogs

Check our blog for more info: http://www.winedogsblog.wordpress.com

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