This post explains how wines are rated on Vino in Love and discusses some of the wine industry’s other rating system including the Parker 100-point scale.
Background: Wines on Vino in Love are rated on a scale from 1 to 5 stars with 5 stars being the highest possible rating. Let me explain the rating system step by step to (hopefully) clear any possible misunderstandings.
5 stars: World Class
4.5 stars : Excellent
Excellent wines. Expect major fireworks.
4 stars: Very Good
Wines with this rating are highly recommended and are a joy to drink.
3.5 stars: Good
These wines are good and recommended.
3 stars: Ok-ish
This rating is for wines which are recommended but only if you enjoy that particular style or grape variety.
2.5 stars: Decent
Decent wines. Do not expect any fireworks and be cautious when buying them.
2 stars: Disappointing
These wines are disappointing and are definitely not recommended. They are not fun to drink.
1.5 stars: Very disappointing
Very disappointing wines. It is best to stay away from them.
1 stars: Extremely poor
These wines have major flaws.
Wine Rating Systems
In North America, the 100 point rating system is popular which in truce is not even based on a 0 to 100 point scale but on a 51 to 100 scale. This system was said to have been popularized by Robert Parker and is used also by Wine Enthusiast, Guia Penin, Wine Spectator and others.
The average rating for a wine on most 100 point scale rating system is around 88. Wines with a score of 85 are considered ‘above average’ or ‘good’ and wines with a score of 90+ are considered ‘exceptional’ or ‘outstanding’. And here comes the problem I have with the 100 point scale. How many wines have you seen which were rated by Parker, WS or WE with a score of 65 or 70? Probably not too many because most wines have a score between 82 and 94 points (Wine Folly).
Wine Spectator’s average rating is 88.3 and 50% of their reviewed wines fall in the category of 86-91 points (Wine Searcher). In fact, between 2009 and 2013 Wine Spectator rated no wines at all with a score of 71 (Wine Folly).
Wine Enthusiast is even worse in that regard because they refuse to review any wines with a score below 80, yet they still use a 100 point scale (Jancis Robinson). Why not simply use a 1-20 scale if no wines are rated below 80 anyways?
Spanish wine guide Guia Penin also uses the 100 point scale to rate wines. According to data from October 2013 its average rating is 88.8 so almost identical to the Wine Spectator’s average rating of 88.3. This means that the average Spanish wine reviewed by Guia Penin is apparently very good and almost excellent. A Guia Penin score 80-89 translates to ‘very good’; 90-94 to ‘excellent’ (source: Wine Searcher). Hard to believe – at least for me.
Falstaff, an Austrian wine guide, uses a 100 point rating system but on a scale from 75-100. Their average rating is 90.8 and 50% of their ratings fall between 89-92 (Wine Searcher).
I wonder if the average wine consumer really understands the difference between a wine with a 93 point rating and one with a 94 point rating? I doubt it and I mean to cause no offense to anybody.
In Europe, various rating systems exist and the 100 point rating system is less popular but still used by some as soon above. British wine critic Jancis Robinson and the European wine magazine Vinum rate wines on a scale from 1-20.
The Italian Gambero Rosso uses an entirely different system based on a 1-3 scale with so-called ‘bicchieri’. Bicchieri is Italian for glasses. 1 glass = ‘above average’; 2 glasses = ‘very good’; 3 glasses = ‘excellent’.
The British Decanter magazine and the Italian Espresso magazine rate wines on a scale from 1 to 5. Any wines rated by Decanter with a score lower than 3 are not recommended. The same 1-5 scale is also used by Bibenda, an annual wine guide published by the Italian Sommelier Association (AIS). South African wine critic John Platter is also an advocate of the 5 star scale. Platter’s average rating is 3.4 stars (Wine Searcher). A good average score if you ask me.
On a Parker 51-100 scale, Platter’s 3.4 stars average rating would correspond to a score of 65. Yet the average rating on a 51-100 point scale is 88, as explained earlier. Jancis Robinson posted a useful chart on her website which shows some of the various rating systems used by wine professionals. Make sure to take a look at it later on.
Using a 100-point based rating system is an absolute no-go for me. I feel that on a 5-star scale the consumer understands much better the difference between a Good Wine (3.5 stars) and a World Class Wine (5 stars). I also find it more transparent. The 100 point scale is misleading to the average wine consumer who may not know that the average score is 88.
I am curious what your thoughts on the 100-point scale are and which of the various wine rating systems you like/dislike most. Feel free to join the discussion by commenting below.
With that said, I hope I made it clear why I choose a 5 star rating system for Vino in Love. I have been using this rating system for years now but I felt the need to clarify my way of rating wine. If you have any questions about it then do not hesitate to contact me. Cheers!