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Wine 101: The 411 on Wine Ratings

“Louis Latour Pinot Noir 98 points, Marques Casa Concha Carmenere 90 points” and you thinking “What are they talking about? Can’t we just grade them with 1 through 10 and be done with it?”.

Well there is an explanation behind these numbers. They are wine ratings that are supposed to give a general idea of how good a wine is. Even though these wine ratings may influence your judgment, you must remember that the ultimate judge is you. There are  numerous publications about wine ratings. However, the most popular and reliable are the Wine Spectator, the Wine enthusiasts and Robert Parker’s (The Wine Advocate).

The Wine Spectator

The Wine Spectator uses different types of editors for the different wine regions. These tastings are blind tastings, during which the editors are rating the wines. At the end, the ones with the highest points are tasted once again to assure that the wine is indeed worthy of such rating.

The editors use the following 100-Point Scale:

  • 95 – 100 Classic wine , it is a great wine
  • 90 – 94 Outstanding wine, it is a superior wine with character and style
  • 80 – 89 Good to a very good wine. Wine with special qualities.
  • 70 – 79 Average wine, drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
  • 60 – 69 Below average wine, drinkable but not recommended
  • 50 – 59 Poor wine, undrinkable, not recommended


The Wine Advocate

Robert Parker is a renowned wine critic and publisher of the Wine Advocate. There are more publishers for The Wine Advocate though, so he isn’t the only one judging the wines. Robert, together with his co-tasters, also conduct blind tastings. These blind tastings are done in groups, in which the same tasting is repeated several times and the scores represent a cumulative average. The score assigned to a specific wine, reflects its quality at its best.

Robert Parker uses the following 100 – Point Scale:

  • 96 – 100 Extraordinary wine, a classic wine of its variety
  • 90 – 95 Outstanding wine, exceptional complexity and character.
  • 80 – 89 Barely above average to very good; wine with various degrees of flavor
  • 70 – 79 Average wine; little distinction beyond being soundly made
  • 60 – 69 Below average; drinkable, but containing noticeable deficiencies
  • 50 – 59 Poor wine; unacceptable, not recommended.

The Wine enthusiast

The Wine Enthusiast rates the wines based on an individual, a group of qualified tasting panelist or by the magazine’s editors. These tastings are blind tasting and only the ones with 80 points or higher will be published.

  • 95 – 100 Superb wine, one of the greatest wines.
  • 90 – 94 Excellent wine, extremely well made and highly recommended
  • 85 – 89 Very good wine, may offer ourstanding value if the price is right
  • 80 – 84 Good wine, suitable for everyday consumption


So there you have it! Wines that carry high points are the best of the class. But don’t worry about the ones that are rated less than 80 points, luckily for them there are wine tasters out there that are willing to taste for themselves. Some of the low rated ones might actually surprise you, but there are others that should be send to the back of the class and never be opened.