How to Rate Wine

parker-note-100-points

I’ve written about wine ratings before, in one of my early blog posts. My conclusion is that wine ratings are, by their nature, subjective. They represent how one taster felt about a wine at a given time in a given situation. Collectively, a large number of ratings for a wine can be averaged, giving what is arguably a more accurate picture of the wine’s quality, and certainly its mass appeal. Websites and Smartphone Apps like Cellar Tracker, Vivino, and Delectable provide this sort of ratings averaging.

There are different types of rating scales. Probably the most well known is the 100-point scale, popularized by wine critic Robert Parker, and adopted by the powerhouse publication, Wine Spectator. 100 Point ScaleThe 100-point scale is easily adaptable to a 1-10 scale, with increments of 0.1 (e.g. 9.1 points.)  However, many user-based reviews rely on a 1-5 scale, be it stars, hearts, or some other emoji. Most wine retailers embrace the 100-point scale for their shelf-tags, because it is so familiar and easy to understand. The higher the rating, the better the wine. In theory, a 91 point wine is far better than an 85 point wine, right? Using the 1-5 scale, how much better is a 4.0 than a 3.5?

So how does one decide what rating to give a wine? I’m sure there are different schools of thought. Here’s how I do it:

I rate wines primarily for myself; to remember which wines I loved, and which I would not buy again. On public sites and apps, there is a secondary purpose which is to contribute to the larger average, in the hopes that somewhere, someone will find my input useful in their wine buying decisions. My ratings are based on how much I liked the wine in general, and how it compares to other wines of the same varietal, region (Rioja, Bordeaux, Piedmont, etc.), or genre (California Bordeaux-style blends, etc.) Early in my wine drinking journey, I followed the Wine Spectator 100-point scale, so all my ratings were done in that format. As social media and Smartphone Apps became more popular, I’ve had to convert to the 1-5 scale, and adapt my ratings accordingly. vivino-ratings-explained-1_ratingsI know of some people who refuse to give a wine 5-points regardless of quality. Their line of thought is that 5-points represents perfection, which can’t exist. I take a different approach, using a range for each half-point in the 1-5 scale. Over the years, I’ve refined this conversion and have settled on this:

  • 95-100 = 5.0 Stars/Hearts
  • 92-94 = 4.5 Stars/Hearts
  • 88-91 = 4.0 Stars/Hearts
  • 85-87 = 3.5 Stars/Hearts
  • 82-84 = 3.0 Stars/Hearts
  • 80-81 = 2.5 Stars/Hearts
  • 77-79 = 2.0 Stars/Hearts
  • 74-76 = 1.5 Stars/Hearts
  • 71-73 = 1.0 Stars/Hearts
  • < 70 = 0.5 Stars/Hearts

For me, anything rated 84 or lower (3.0 stars/hearts) falls into my “would not buy again” category. Frankly, I don’t encounter these wines very often. I like to think that I have a discriminating palate, but maybe I’m just easy to please. On the other hand, since the vast majority of the wine I taste is paid for out of my own pocket, I tend to buy only what I’m pretty sure I’ll like. (I’m open to samples, if anyone would like to send me some!) Oh, sure, I have had a couple of wines that I’ve rated in the mid-70’s, but thankfully, those are very rare!

In today’s world, with modern production methods, I think truly bad wines are uncommon. Somebody in the distribution chain must like them in order for them to make it to store shelves. If a wine is faulty, don’t rate it. Return it and get a new bottle to rate. I scratch my head in wonder when I see, on Vivino or similar sites, people rating wines at 0.5 or 1.0 stars. soapiconAre those people only willing to drink “blow your socks off” wines? I think social media and the “reality” TV culture have made people too eager to criticize, slam, and malign. Trolls are everywhere, and seem to forget (or don’t care, which is even more disturbing) that there are real people behind the labels of these bottles. Even the big, conglomerate wine companies, churning out case after case of mass produced wine, employ people who are doing their best.

In conclusion, now that I’ve stepped off my soapbox, wine ratings are subjective. However, they are useful in helping consumers select wines they may like. As I’ve said before, find a few reviewers with whom you have similar tastes, follow them, and buy what they like. Then, contribute to the global collective, and with whatever scale you choose, rate those wines!

 

Advertisements

Tagged: , , ,

9 thoughts on “How to Rate Wine

  1. Poor Robert February 29, 2016 at 7:58 pm Reply

    great piece!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. okiewinegirl2015 March 1, 2016 at 1:54 pm Reply

    Thanks for the reminder there is a face behind each bottle. I finally went to the 5 star system as well because mainly I just want to remember if I liked it, why, and if I’d buy it again. Cheers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Appetite for Wine March 1, 2016 at 4:02 pm Reply

      Thanks for the comment! I try to remember the people behind the product, whether its wine or anything else. I appreciate your feedback!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. clcoronios March 6, 2016 at 2:16 pm Reply

    Well written, Kent. I concur about how easy it has become to be meanly critical – of anything/anyone, oblivious to the fact that there are REAL PEOPLE involved. Reality shows? Techno-gadgets? Adults in public life who OUGHT to set a good example – and instead, don’t even have a good enough upbringing to be ashamed of themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. clcoronios March 6, 2016 at 2:18 pm Reply

    Meant to also say that we investors in Naked Wines are fortunate because every day we communicate with our winemakers – they are real people, with feelings and families – not some obscure company name on a label.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Appetite for Wine March 6, 2016 at 2:36 pm Reply

      Thanks, Carol Lynn. I agree; Naked Wines Angels are very fortunate to be able to interact directly with the winemakers. This helps me to remember that every bottle I open, Naked Wines or otherwise, is made by a real person who has poured heart and soul into that bottle.

      Like

    • Poor Robert March 6, 2016 at 2:53 pm Reply

      Carol & Kent — Getting close to our winemakers is a double edged sword for me as an emotionally attachable person. On one hand it keeps me from being heavy handed when I have negative things to say an aspect of a wine and on the other hand it may keep me from being as candid as I should about an aspect of a wine. After all nameless corporations really don’t care about my or anybody else’s ratings unless it is on some of their really high-end stuff. Our winemakers do and I don’t want to hurt feelings. I try to be balanced and fortunately for NW wine makers, unless a bottle is definitely off, there isn’t much bad to say.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Rosé-review.com

Enjoying rosé from Australia and around the world. One bottle at a time....

Central Coast Wine Writer

Educational articles for wine lovers

okaywinenot?

Welcome to my blog about wine!

Got Legs

An International Wine Girl

Griffy on Wine

Saving the World One Glass at a Time

Wi.Nes

The diary of a winemaker; vineyards, wineries and kitchen

Oz's Travels

Watch Me Get Lost

Social Vignerons

The World of Wine's Got Talent

one foot in the grapes

Jane Clare, journalist, loves wine, likes gin too. More eyebrow than highbrow.

SAHMmelier

Stay at home mom, lover of wine

World and Wine Getaways

The World and Wine Getaways website provides clients with a central location to learn more about traveling to wine country areas worldwide.

Pairs With: Life

Meanderings on life, posing as a Wine Blog

The Swirling Dervish

Wine Stories, Food Pairings, and Life Adventures

Pairs With: Life

Musings on Life, Love and Wine

The Wine & Food Concierge

Sharing Wine + Food enjoyed in Vancouver and around the world

Winona the Wineosaur

Just your average Mesozoic girl, livin and drinking her way through the modern day world.

Wine Sipper

One Wine at a Time

Have Wine, Will Inspire

Passion, People, Wine

The Vigneron's Wife

The thrills and spillage of an Aussie girl living with a French winemaker

MyWine Channel

“Either give me more wine or leave me alone.”

ROCKIN RED BLOG

A Song in Every Glass

The Primlani Kitchen

Love is My 'Secret' Ingredient

%d bloggers like this: