Wine Rating Scales Explained
Well-known wine writers and critics score wine, and these scores can be used to help and guide others to buy great wines. The scoring prototype is that used by Robert Parker who did much to promote the controversial and highly influential practice of awarding scores as points out of 100. To guide you in your purchases we have used examples from some of the best-known scoring systems:
WA – Robert Parker Jnr, Wine Advocate
WS – Wine Spectator Magazine
IWC – International Wine Cellar
WP – Wine Press
AWC – Australian Wine Companion
BWR – Bob Campbell's Wine Reviews
OW – On Wine
JR – Jancis Robinson
MD – Expert Wine
Robert Parker Jnr – is arguably the most influential wine critic in the world. Parker’s tastings are done in peer-group, single-blind conditions, meaning the producer of each wine is not disclosed at the time of tasting. The ratings reflect an independent, critical look at the wines. Some wines have a range of points ie (85-90) points – this is usually because the wine was tasted and scored before bottling and finishing (ie. in the barrel).
Robert Parker 100-Point Scale
|96-100||An extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine of its variety. Wines of this caliber are worth a special effort to find, purchase, and consume.|
|90-95||An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines.|
|80-89||A barely above average to very good wine displaying various degrees of finesse and flavor as well as character with no noticeable flaws.|
|70-79||An average wine with little distinction except that it is a soundly made. In essence, a straightforward, innocuous wine.|
|60-69||A below average wine containing noticeable deficiencies, such as excessive acidity and/or tannin, an absence of flavor, or possibly dirty aromas or flavors.|
|50-59||A wine deemed to be unacceptable.|
The Wine Spectator – is a longtime advocate of the popular 100-point rating scale; wines are always tasted blind and tasters are told only the general type of wine (ie. varietal, region and vintage). Ratings are based on potential quality on how good the wines will be when they are at their peak. 95-100 points would indicate a great wine for your collection and 50-59 would be considered undrinkable.
Wine Spectator's 100-Point Scale
|95-100||Classic. A great wine.|
|90-94||Outstanding. A wine of superior character and style.|
|85-89||Very Good. A wine of special qualities.|
|80-84||Good. A solid, well-made wine.|
|75-79||Mediocre. A drinkable wine that may have minor flaws.|
International Wine Cellar – scores are based on their expected quality during their period of peak drinkability. A “+” after a score denotes a wine that is likely to merit a higher rating in the future. All wines rated 90 or more are highly recommended additions to your collection; wines rated at least 85 are recommended bottles that should provide pleasurable drinking. Precise scores are provided only for wines in bottle; ranges are offered for unfinished wines.
International Wine Cellar’s 100 point scale
|85-89||Very good to excellent.|
Wine Press – Tyson Stelzer is a freelance wine writer and author of many books on wine. Each year Tyson assesses and reviews thousands of wines, the best of which are summarised in his annual Top 500 wines.
Wine Press’ 100 point scale
|94-100||Exceptional in every way. The pinnacle of the style.|
|90-93||Excellent quality. A wine of style and character, with all components in balance.|
|87-89||Reasonable quality. With sound varietal character.|
|84-86||Ordinary and affording. Little drinking pleasure.|
|80-83||Poor quality. Lacking balance or fruit integrity.|
|75-79||Profoundly faulty. Or distinctly lacking in some way.|
Australian Wine Companion – James Halliday is a leading wine critic and vigneron, his career spanning over 40 years. He is most widely known for his witty and informative writing about wine and is an unmatched authority on every aspect of the wine industry, from planting and pruning of vines through to the creation and marketing of the finished product.
Australian Wine Companion’s 100 point scale
|94-100||Outstanding. Wines of the highest quality, usually with a distinguished pedigree.|
|90-93||Highly recommended. Wines of great quality, style and character, worthy of a place in any cellar.|
|87-89||Recommended. Wines of above-average quality, fault-free and with clear varietal expression.|
|84-86||Fair to good. Wines with plenty of flavour (usually varietal) and good balance; free of technical faults.|
|80-83||Everyday wines. Price is particularly relevant; represent good value.|
|75-79||Also tasted: Usually wines with some deficiency, technical or otherwise.|
Bob Campbell is one of only 264 Masters of Wine in the world. An international wine judge, Bob judges wine professionally in ten countries and contributes regularly to publications around the world. His specialty is New Zealand wine which he reviews from an international perspective.
Bob Campbell’s 100 point scale
|96-100||Absolutely outstanding. The pinnacle of wine quality, highly collectible.|
|93-95||Excellent. Top quality wine, strongly recommended.|
|90-93||Very good, but not great, wines of well above average quality and character.|
|85-89||Above average wines.|
|80-84||Average to good.|
|78-79||Sound wines that may represent good value.|
Jancis Robinson – One of a handful of wine communicators with an international reputation, Jancis Robinson writes daily for JancisRobinson.com, weekly for The Financial Times, and bi-monthly for a column that is syndicated around the world. She is also editor of The Oxford Companion to Wine and co-author with Hugh Johnson of The World Atlas of Wine, each of these books recognised as a standard reference worldwide. Jancis was awarded an OBE by Her Majesty the Queen, on whose cellar she now advises.
Jancis Robinson 20 point scale
20 = perfection
19 = truly exceptional
18 = a humdinger!
17 = a cut above 'superior'
16 = superior
15 = average but undistinguished
14 = sound but dull
13 = borderline faulty
12 = faulty in some way
Matthew Jukes – A wine correspondent of the Daily Mail and is read each week by over 9 million readers. He has won The International Wine and Spirit Competition’s Trophy for Communicator of the Year, writes best selling wine guides in the UK and Australia, as well as being a wine buyer and internationally respected wine judge.