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Understanding Wine Ratings: How the System Works

Understanding Wine Ratings: How the System Works

Since the start of recorded history, people have been drinking wine. Not only was it for drinking, but it also has a long history of being used in medical practices.

Nowadays, people drink wine for many reasons. Some just enjoy the taste, others like the health benefits it gives to the body. There is no doubt that wine had deeply ingrained itself in our society as a beneficial drink. It became so popular that there is a system that rates wines depending on their characteristics.

What is the Wine Rating System?

A wine rating system works by having critics assign to a specific bottle of wine. The score is mostly numerical and represents the overall summary of what the critics think of the wine. The method is usually subjective since all would still boil down to whether the critic likes the wine or not. There are instances where input is taken from several critics instead of one.

The idea and method of rating wine were introduced by Robert Parker in the 1980s. He was an author who is now recognized for the 100-point wine rating system. This is what most critics use to rate wine. However, some critics would prefer to use other scales such as the 0-20 scale or the 0-5 scale (usually in the form of the famous star system).

This 100-point wine rating system has become the benchmark for quality in the wine-tasting world. To make great wine, wineries must understand that winemaking is a form of art as much, maybe even more, as it is a science. Many factors could contribute to wine production. The soil, climate, the temperature of the fermentation chamber are factors that are as important as the kinds of grapes used for winemaking.

Great winemaking process, combined with high-quality ingredients, yields terrific wine and a good rating. In the 100-point system, the grading starts from 50 (the lowest) to 100 (the highest). However, some raters don’t go lower than 80 when rating their wine. The Wine enthusiast wine ratings, for example, does this practice.

The Ratings 

Here are the ranges of wine scoring system;


These wines are considered to be profoundly flawed and not consumable. Wines under this rating are unacceptable.


Very faulty wines fall under this category. However, they’re drinkable. The flaws are noticeable, and the wine is unbalanced and usually is dirty in flavor.


This is where the average wines fall under. Still, these wines are considered flawed. However, critics think wines under this bracket to be straightforward and innocuous.


Above-average wines with flavor and personality, this bracket contains a wide range and degree of finesse. The flaws of the wine, if ever there are, is not noticeable.


These wines are considered outstanding and excellent and worth the money you put into it. Most of these wines are exceptionally complex with terrific characters.


Unique, magnificent, and in an entirely different caliber, these wines are filled with deep flavor and a cacophony of complex personalities. It displays the characteristics of a classic wine under its variety. These wines would take considerable effort to find, purchase, and consume.

How Do The Wines Get Their Score?

As mentioned earlier, wine tasting and rating can be done alone or with a peer of critics. These tastings happen through single-blind conditions. This means that the type, brand, and producer of the wines will not be revealed as they are tasted one after another.

Wines go through a series of tastings, starting with 50 as the base score. It is built up with additional points after the look, smell, and taste of the wine are analyzed.

  • If the wine’s color and tears are good, there will be an additional 5 points to the score. The color will tell you a lot about the quality of wine you will be drinking. The way that the tears will drip down to the side of your glass will indicate how viscous the wine is.
  • The bouquet and aroma of the wine will coin 15 points to the score. According to research, 80% of what we taste comes from what we smell. This means that the smell of wine tells you how it would taste. Not only that, but the scent of the wine also indicates if there’s something wrong with the wine.
  • 20 points will be given for the flavor and finish. The initial flavor that assaults your tongue with the first sip will give you an idea of whether the wine is balanced or complex. How long the taste sits on your tongue is the most crucial factor of judging a wine’s quality. A wine with a long finish indicates that the wine is excellent.
  • The last 10 points will be given based on the overall quality of the wine. The age, potential, and level of quality will determine the score.


Wine ratings are a helpful basis for how the wine might present itself. The input of wine critics can help those who aren’t too sure about what they should buy. However, at the end of the day, it is still up to you to decide whether you like a certain or not. Drink the wine you thoroughly enjoyed and loved.

Guest author, Scarlett Wells is a freelance writer and wine enthusiast. She is an active critique examining all levels of wine types so she can produce reviews and articles that will help guide every consumer in selecting the right kind of wine to drink. In her free time, she reads a lot about food and beverage pairing in order to help her become an effective mentor inspiring everyone to maintain a fit and fab lifestyle.

About The Author


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