Wine Scoring

There are differing schools of thought as to whether it’s appropriate to use a numerical scoring system to rate a particular wine. Systems like this are often criticised on the basis that they don’t make proper allowance for regional variations or the personal bias of the taster. And it’s no surprise that where a wine reviewer has the label on the bottle in front of them, bias and prejudice can subconsciously come into play because of personal knowledge of the region, the fruit or the winemaker.

Whilst the Australian Wine Review Scoring System uses a 20 point scoring system, most of the better known critics use a 100 point system. It allows for a little more variation but in practice, you’ll almost never see a wine score less than 60 unless it’s suffering from cork taint!

The reality is that most wines will score somewhere between 80 and 90 points. You’ll rarely see a low score spoken about because if a wine isn’t considered to be good by the winemaker, it generally won’t get submitted for tasting in the first place!

Whilst there are a number of systems used, I personally prefer the guide used by Wine Spectator Magazine. They are well established and well regarded and their scoring system is easily understood.

Essentially, their system works like this:

Score Commentary
60-69 wines are flawed
70-79 the wines are average but contain flaws
80-84 these wines are considered to be good wines (above average)
85-90 these wines are considered to be good to very good examples
90-94 this is the range for wines which are considered superior to exceptional
95-100 in this category wines are at a benchmark standard. They are classics and rarely seen

When I allocate a number to a wine, I’m really doing it for my own purposes. It is very difficult to compare apples with oranges when you are tasting wines from vastly different regions, countries or even continents. It’s also difficult to compare reds and whites or wines from the old world with the new. For me it’s a reference point. I look at aspects such as the wine’s colour, aromatics, fruit flavour, balance, integrity and mouthfeel. Of course, the overall perception of quality and the consumption experience is a necessary part of the judging process.

But having said that, it needs to be recognised that it’s just an opinion. It’s surprising how often opinions will differ – especially when wine is involved. So, if you drink a wine and enjoy it, then it’s a good wine for you.