When searching for new wines to try, scoring/rating systems may provide some insight as to which ones may be worth your while. However, having said this, it is important to keep in mind that any rating is only the opinion of the reviewer who completed it.
A score isn’t the be all and end all. In addition to looking at the number or symbol, it is important to consider the complete tasting notes in order to get a fuller understanding of what the particular wine is about. Without the tasting notes the rating is of little value as the notes explain what the reviewer considered when completing their assessment.
If you can find the vintners notes those can provide important insight as well. The vintner’s notes would most likely be located through the winery’s web site. However, these are not always published.
Ratings can be most useful to you if you can find a critic whose likes and dislikes are similar to your own. However, keep in mind that all rating systems are very subjective. There really is no science involved in completing the scorings. The beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.
Wines that are scored between 85 and 90 often provide the best value as price can be influenced by ratings and popularity. Demand tends to be greater for the highest rated wines though the quality is very similar to wines rated in the high 80’s. The difference may only be that the vines on the higher rated wine are older or of a particular heritage. Neither of which may provide a difference in taste for the average consumer.
The higher rated wines may contain more tannin and acid, making them good candidates for cellaring. However, if you are just looking for a good wine to drink over the next few months, a wine rated between 85 and 90 will be well worth the investment
You will find that not all wines will be scored. This is often because they are not able to be reviewed by the critics before being released for sale to the public. The fact that there is no rating doesn’t mean that the wine is bad or inferior.
Here is a quick review of the common rating systems that you may come across in your wine exploring adventures.
The 100 Point System
This system was made popular by Robert Parker Jr. and has been commonly used since the early 1980’s. It is used by the majority of critics today.
This approach automatically assigns each wine reviewed with 50 points. Up to an additional 5 points are awarded for colour and appearance; a maximum of 15 additional points for aroma; up to 20 more points for flavour and finish; and up to 10 points for overall quality.
The 5-Star Scale
This scale was derived based on the common hotel-rating system. 5 stars represent outstanding quality; 4.5 stars indicate excellent quality, verging on outstanding; 4 stars represents excellent quality; 3.5 stars indicate very good quality; and finally 3 stars indicate good quality.
3 glasses indicates an excellent wine in its category; 2 glasses is a very good to excellent wine in its category; and finally 1 glass indicates good wine in its category.
Remember the most important wine critic you should pay attention to is you. You know better than anyone what wines you like.