How I Rate Wines

Rating wines can be fraught with controversy.  Many wonder whether wines should be rated at all,  in part, because by nature ratings are subjective (each individual’s palate is different,a and even if we perceived the same flavors, we might describe them differently).
Furthermore, if one does choose to rate wine what scale should be used (there are many the most prevalent being the 100 point scale, but I’ve seen a variety of scales including 5, 10, and 20 point scale, stars, and various flavors of recommendations or non-recommendations.
I myself like the 100 point scale, but not as a be-all and end-all.  I think it’s useful as a data point. And when I choose a wine, in some respect it’s like choosing a car, the more informed I am the better I’ll feel about my choice.  In terms of buying wine for example, without any other information I’d choose a wine rated 90 points over one rated 85 points if it was at the price I was willing to pay for it.  The thing is there is a wealth of information available if you care to dig a little.  A wine can be Googled, there are plenty of apps that have wine ratings, or you can check out crowd-sourced review sites such as Cellar-Tracker.  My experience in tasting wines has led me to others whom palate I believe is similar to wine, so I check out what they think, if possible.  I encourage you to use the wealth of resources available, on-line and otherwise as data points, resources, then go with what your like because ultimately what you think of a wine is all that really matters!
While I like the 100 point scale, I rate wines based in the ‘report card’ A-F grade format used in the U.S.  I do so because I believe wine ratings are inherently imprecise. Wine change over time, and event minute by minute.  When I taste a wine, I typically have a number in mind (often give a take a point) which I then convert to “grades” as noted below:
Ratings Key:
(A+) – 95-100/Extraordinary (I’m still waiting for one of these bad boys!)
(A) – 92-95/Outstanding
(A-) – 89-91/Very Good to Outstanding
(B+) – 86-88/Very good
(B) – 80-85/Good
(C) – 70-79/Bleh
(D) – 50-69/#Fail
Here’s the 411 on how I taste and rate wines:
  • Wines are tasted non-blind unless otherwise noted
  • My criteria for rating wines are as follows:
    • Color – I believe it’s useful to note the color of a wine, but if I’m rating a bunch of wine (i.e. a large tasting event, I omit the color because it’s less relevant that the wine’s aroma, flavor, and finish in my book
    • Aroma – How strong is the aromas and/or bouquet of a wine, and are they “simple” or “complex”
    • Body – Is the wine light/medium/full-bodied?  For sparkling wines I also note whether the mousse is delicate/creamy/aggressive. I may also note the way the wine feels in the mouth and/or the acidity level of a wine
    • Taste – How much do I like the way a wine tastes? What flavors do I perceive?
    • Finish – Great wines “finish” last.  The longer the finish, the higher the score in my book..
  • Any wine received as a media sample is so noted
  • You may assume all wines tasted are from a 750ml bottle, unless otherwise noted
  • All my tasting notes (TN) are maintained in Cellar Tracker, where I go by MartinD of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog. I’ve done over 1,500 tasting notes and counting! 
Every article on this blog is produced without compensation from any party whatsoever.

One Comment Add yours

  1. mkharb says:

    Very interesting and useful measurement to rate wine. Great. Thanks and keep sharing your views on topics like this. Collectible Wine Prices

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