The popular 100-point scale is used to rate every
wine that is reported here
with at least a brief description accompanying it. The breakdown:
100 (20) Ethereal Perfection. Heaven. (Haven't experienced this yet)
97-99 (18-19) Very Great. Classic Plus. More than perfect.
95-96 (17-18) Great. Classic. Textbook Perfect.
90-94 (15-16) Outstanding. Excellent. Serious Stuff.
87-89 (13-14) Very Good. Well put together.
84-86 (11-12) Good to very good with flaws.
80-83 (9-10) Pleasant to Good "table wine". Nothing serious.
79 and below Barely drinkable to horrid
+ better than the score implies, either due to potential or sheer charm
No surprises here. This is the scale used by most wine publications
and critics. It doesn't exactly follow the A, B, C, ... grading system
we got in school, since a C (70-79) is essentially an F. I guess wine
critics are all overacheivers, or have overinflated images of themselves.
20-point scale equivalents are given in parentheses.
The great thing about the 100-point scale is that it condenses everything you
think and feel about a wine into a single number. Of course, this is also the
bad thing about it, which is why descriptions of the taster's impressions
always accompany the scores. These impressions are very subjective, which is
why most tasters, including me, think that a score is required for clarification.
But even with the score, I often find it difficult to translate the impressions
of the taster into a coherent picture of what the wine actual tastes like. This
is the inspiration for the 20-point scale, whose purpose in life is to give a
blow-by-blow description of a wine in a more objective format. This is acheived
by deriving an overall score from the sum of the scores from five categories.
This sounds intricate and painful, but it's actual not, since the five categories
relate what your senses are experiencing in the order in which you experience
You see the wine (the Color)
You smell it (the Bouquet)
You taste it (the Flavor)
You taste it again after it's gone down (the Finish).
Oops, that's only four, I saved the most abstract category for last,
Body, the texture and structure of the wine (mouthfeel, size, balance, etc.)
Each category receives 0-4
points as follows
1 Just passable.
2.5 Very Good
The 20-point scale is nothing new. It has been
traditionally used by wine
nuts for generations, so it actual predates the 100-point scale by a long shot.
Some tasters use it in a similar fashion to the 100-point scale, just giving
an overall score, but I find the 20-point scale to be more confusing unless
you know where the points are coming from. 20-point ratings are only
given here when time permitted and the wine inspired indepth coverage.
See above for overall conversions between the 100-point and 20-point scales.
The philosophy behind the rating:
Scores should be used to put the overall level of quality and desirable traits
of a wine on an absolute scale, based on how it's drinking at the time it was
tasted. I reject the idea that scores should take into account the taster's
estimation of a wine's aging potential, even though I'm probably sometimes
guilty of this myself, since no one is clairvoyant, particularly when it comes
to wine. I also reject, even more strongly, the idea that different types of
wine should be rated on different scales, in other words, a Beaujolais should
be rated on a less critical scale than a Bordeaux. This defeats the purpose
of a rating system and gives the reader a false impression of how a wine
stacks up in the general scheme of things. The score should reflect a wine's
level of perfection, not how well it stacks up to its peers, i.e. no bell curves
please. In a similar vain, I also try not to get too hung up on wines being true
to form, appellation, etc. If I found a Chambertin that drank like a very great
Latour, I would not subscribe to marking it down because it didn't taste like a
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