Wine Ratings and Why We Score Them

Wine Ratings and Why We Score Them

So, you've spotted the numbers on your wine bottle, huh? Ever scratched your head and thought what these suggestive numbers mean or why your beloved wines are getting scored?

You can thank the 100-point wine rating system that has set the standard for wine quality on a wine critic named Robert Parker, who popularized the system in the 1980s when wine became on-trend again. While the system is good for rating some of the qualities in wine such as the production quality, it helps to understand it further to pick a new bottle of wine to try.


However, wine ratings won’t tell you how delicious a particular wine is. Wine is like beauty as much of it lies within the beholder. So, these wines that are rated and scored are based on the production quality and how well the traits of a specific wine feature typicity of the style and region it hails from.

Despite being known as a 100-point scale, it starts at 50. Often wines that score below 80 aren’t included so it can be a challenge to ascertain whether it simply wasn’t rated or rated so poorly that it wasn’t worth mentioning.

What the Wine Rating Scores Mean

As you browse for a new wine to try, you will likely have a wonderful experience with those that have a higher score. That’s not always the case, but here’s what the numbers can tell you on a rated bottle:

  • 100-95: Considered the benchmark
  • 94-90: Superior to exceptional
  • 89-85: Good to very good
  • 84-80: Above average to good
  • 79-70: Flawed and average taste
  • 69-60: Flawed, not recommended, but drinkable
  • 59-50: Flawed and not drinkable

As you can see, no one would opt to willingly buy and drink a wine that was rated as flawed and average in taste. Or even worse, flawed and not recommended (or undrinkable!). Since many of those critiquing wines will often leave off these unsavoury scores, wines that have no rating may be mistaken for those that were just plain horrible.

How to Choose Wines with or Without Ratings

Remember, a high score on a wine won’t tell you if you’ll love it. It just means it exemplifies the type of wine you’re drinking. That means nothing if you try a Merlot rated with 99 and hate it.

Instead, take the ratings with a grain of salt and look at other factors too that will help your decision along. Generally speaking, if you are fond of a region for a certain type of wine, you should be pleased with the result. Asking around often helps too for getting a broad spectrum of opinions goes beyond what one wine critic scored a particular bottle.

Using wine ratings can help you explore new wines, though they should only serve as a partial guide. A great way to get to know more of them is to host a tasting and let each friend bring a different bottle. You can compare notes and have a good time finding a new wine to love.

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