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Wine Rating

How Wine is "Scored" by Tasters and Editors?

Wine Rating

First off, we'll explain the way many famous wine magazines and critics conduct their tastings. The accuracy of wine ratings is grounded in two things:

1. The stringent standards set:

Virtually all tastings are conducted "blind." This means that the reviewer doesn't know what wine he or she is tasting or how much it costs. It takes place in a "tasting room" under optimum conditions, against several other wines of similar type. The bottles are bagged and coded, all capsules and corks are removed, and other necessary efforts are made to conceal the wines' identity from the tasters. The tasters are told only the general type of wine (varietal or region) and the vintage. Each wine is swirled, sniffed, and spat into a bucket, and notes are taken on the aromas and flavors. After tasting several wines against each other, a score is attached to each wine according to the taster's finding. Special care is taken not to allow any outside aromas to enter the room, and the tasters are only occasionally allowed to take a sip of water or a bite of a bland, unsalted cracker to "cleanse" their palate. These precautions are taken so as not to interfere with their judgment and scoring of the wines.

2. The proven ability and experience of tasters and critics.

All tasting begins with a wine that was previously rated, which was tasted non-blind as a reference point. These previously rated wines are inserted into the blind tasting to ensure consistency. The tasters notes and ratings are entered directly into a database prior to the removal of the bags. Further comments may be added to a tasting note after the identity of the wine is revealed, but the score is never changed.

Ratings are based on potential quality: how good the wines will be when they are at their peak. For ageable wines, we suggest waiting for a year or more to start drinking the wine, when the roughness of youthful tannins has completed. Those who prefer very mature wines may wish to wait longer.

The cost of the wine is not taken into consideration when scoring. However, after the scores are determined, the notes are often edited to include comments about price and value. Any wines that tasted corky, show other major flaws or score below 70 have the blind taste repeated using new bottles.

Wine rating is conducted by famous wine magazines and critics.  Here are the methods they use and an explanation of the score they receive.

In addition, when applicable, critics rate barrel samples rather than the finished wine. If this is not mentioned by the critics, this distinction can mislead you. Many things can happen to a wine's quality between the barrel and the bottle, from filtering, fining and blending. The same tester always tastes every category of wine. Since each taster, over time, has developed an expertise on the wines region, they generally test in the same locales.

If you don't know who rated a wine, just check the magazine issue where the tasting report appeared. The author of a tasting report is always the lead taster for that area, and although other senior editors may have contributed to the article, the lead taster has the final say on the rating and description. The editors always taste the wines, make the analysis, record the notes, and write tasting report for each region or country and their initials follow each tasting note.

There are many scoring systems for wine and each have their advocate, but bowing to international pressure the U.S. uses the 100 point scale, which is now widely recognized. Ratings are based on how good the wines will be when they are at their peaks, regardless of how soon that will be.




The pinnacle of quality. An extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine of its variety
A great achievement. An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character.
Highly recommended. A barely above average to very good wine displaying various degrees of finesse and flavor, as well as character with no noticeable flaws.
Very Good
Often good value; well recommended. An average wine with little distinction except that it is soundly made. In short a straightforward, innocuous wine.
Suitable for everyday consumption; often good value.
Can be employed in casual, less-critical circumstances.


Wines receiving a rating below 80 are not reviewed.


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