Scoring System

If I ever run a wine mag I will do all my scoring like this.

I do my best to rate wines based on objective (or quasi-objective) factors like complexity of flavours, overall balance and structure (whether the acidity, tannins, alcohol and other elements of the wine are all in sync and don’t overwhelm one another), length of finish, etc., and if a particular bottle is a well-made example of a certain style, I will certainly try to mention that, even if the style in question isn’t my favourite.  But I don’t pretend that the scores I give wines in this blog are anything more than the overall evaluation that my own palate makes of a specific bottle, which inevitably brings in my own (conscious or otherwise) preferences and subjective impressions.  That said, every wine rated and written up in this blog will get a full and fair hearing, and every numerical score will be supported by a few hundred words of reasoning.

I score all of the wines I drink on the now-ubiquitous 100-point scale.  I’m not a die-hard proponent of this scoring system, which has some clearly weird features, the clearest example being that only on the rarest occasions involving the very worst wines do you ever see a professional wine reviewer score a wine below 80 points.  Why have a scale if you don’t use 4/5ths of it?  Does every wine has 78+ points out of 100 worth of redeeming quality in it?  I’m not entirely sure.  And yet I’m still using this top-heavy, slightly flawed scale in PnP, because it has come to have a generally-accepted meaning that most people reading up about wine come to understand.  Roughly speaking, this meaning, which forms the basis of my personal scoring system on this site, is something like:

  • Under 80 points: Horrific wine fail (or, hopefully, some fault in the winemaking process).  Burn all your vines and go back to school to learn how to do something else.
  • 80-85 points: Definitely not good, but not totally, abjectly awful.  I’m not impressed, but if the wine is really cheap, I might overlook (most of) its flaws.
  • 85-89 points: Now we’re getting somewhere.  More interesting, more high-quality, more serious, more oomph.
  • 90-95 points: Fantastic, complex, thoughtful, impressive juice.  Honour roll wines.
  • 95-99 points: Classic, unbelievable, collectible wines to be cellared and opened only on special occasions or if you’re made of money.  The creme de la creme.
  • 100 points: The Platonic ideal of wine.  Not sure if I’ll ever see one in my life, but never say never…

So there you have it.  Other publications might put it in slightly different terms, but I think we all get to the same place in the end.

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