Newcomers to the world of wine may find themselves perplexed about the wine rating system. Wine ratings from critics and publications such as Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast are very important to the success of a particular wine. Highly rated wines are more likely to be purchased by consumers. Choosing the right wines to try can be the difference between someone becoming a wine lover or a wine hater. The wine rating system can make finding great wines easier at any price point.
Although the most common scale for wine rating is the 100 point scale (used by Robert Parker, Wine Spectator and most wine critics), the rating scale really starts at 50 and goes up (much the same as a test grading scale). Here is how Wine Spectator defines the point system:
95-100: Classic, a great wine (A+)
90-94: Outstanding, a wine of superior character and style (A)
85-89: Very Good, a wine with special qualities (B+)
80-84: Good, a solid, well-made wine (B)
70-79: Average, a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws (C)
60-69: Below Average, drinkable but not recommended (D)
50-59: Poor, undrinkable, not recommended (F)
In order to experience a good wine, it is easy to find wines which have been scored 84 and above to purchase. Among wines in this category of good or better, there are wines at every price point. Just because a wine has scored highly, doesn’t mean it is expensive (and vice versa). New online wine forums such as Snooth have mobile versions so that you can access wine ratings on the go, although it uses its own 5 point rating system. Wine Spectator has a subscription-based online listing of more than 200,000 wines and their ratings to make wine purchasing easier. Many wine stores will also place Wine Spectator ratings on store shelves next to select wines.
Wine tasting, of course, is subjective and not all wine commentators will agree on scores, but generally most scores for a wine will place it in the same or neighboring categories. Checking a wine’s score before purchasing allows the drinker to at least have an idea of the wine’s quality, but remember … not all wines will taste the same to everyone. When enjoying wine, no score is more important than the opinion of the drinker!