Last time you were at a liquor store looking for a bottle of wine, you may have saw a wine being advertised as 93 points or something. But what does that mean? I would be happy if I got 93% on a test in school, but can one apply something similar to this scale?
And in a sense you can. While someone might be over joyed with an 85% on their test, someone else might be gunning more for a 95%. And with wine ratings, there is something similar. You may perfectly enjoy a 85 wine, whereas the snob next door might only drink wines that are rated 90+ and only by Robert Parker. And that’s how subjective these ratings can get. Now you might be asking who the hell is Robert Parker? He is a prominent wine critic that is credited with popularizing the 100 point system with his friend Victor Morgenroth that a lot of critics nowadays use.
Wine Spectator does explain their scoring scale for rating wines as well.
In general, this is what I personally go for if I see a wine rating:
- < 80 points – Not Great
- 80-84 points – Good, but wouldn’t go seek it out
- 85-89 points – Lets give this a try
- > 90 points – It’s gotta be good, if the price is right, lets buy it
Of course no one is advertising their low scores, so if you see a score, it’ll probably be in the high 80s or above.
Now, keep in mind that ratings will differ between critics and even between regions for the same critic. What that means is that even if two wines score the same, but they are from different regions, they may not provide the same amount of enjoyment to you. The best way would be to try something that a particular critic has rated for a particular region and keep note of it if you agree with that critic’s rating. That way you will know that you prefer the critic’s ratings of wines from that region. This way you also get an idea that your taste palate will match a particular critics (for that particular region). All wines that are rated 90+ may not taste great for your particular taste buds.
So since lower ratings are never published, you may have to look for alternate sources for wine ratings. A popular resource for user wine ratings is Cellar Tracker. I personally use Vivino on my phone. You can take a picture of a wine label, and it will match it up in their database. Then you can see how other users have rated it. And if it can’t find a match, there is someone on the other side manually matching them for you. It might take a little while, but I was surprised the first time to see a notification saying that they found a wine that I scanned a few hours earlier.
So in general, wine ratings are a very subjective thing, but if you are cognizant about how they work, you can use it as a tool for finding new wines that have a higher chance of enjoying without trying everything out there. As that would be quite hard for your body. Cheers!