Rating System

How We Rate Wines

Wines are rated on a 100-point scale with a 100/100 representing the quintessential wine. For us, a "perfect" wine displays both harmony and complexity from the initial observation in the glass, to inviting aromas and distinctive flavors, concluding with a memorable feel and finish--all this alongside non-tangible, non-sensory qualities, some of which are readily ascertainable (e.g. how the wine was made/who made the wine/price and quantity of the wine made, etc.) and others that stem from that "gut" feeling--the internal bells that sound when a wine stands out (and that no professional wine critic can properly explain).

Our proprietary Rating System is as follows:
Each wine begins at 60 points with total of 40 points being available to each wine. Points are only added and never deducted from a wine's score. The sections that comprise the 40 points include the wines appearance (visual) and aromas (smell), as well as the flavors and physical characteristics (taste and structure) of the wine. Lastly, the finish of the wine is considered along with its overall quality. After the wine has been tasted, non-sensory factors are reviewed. We attempt to taste wines in virtually the same conditions, employ the use a universal glass, and adjust, when applicable, for external conditions outside our control.

Furthermore, the six sections are broken down as follows:
1. Appearance - 5 Points Available (color and intensity; cleanliness; uniformity or variation; etc.)
2. Aromas - 10 Points Available (initial bouquet; complexity of smell; intensity and integration of aromas; existence of primary and secondary aromas "layers" etc.)
3. Flavors and Taste - 10 Points Available (initial flavors; complexity of flavors; intensity and integration of flavors; existence of primary and secondary flavors "layers" etc.)
4. Feel and Finish - 5 Points Available (weight of the wine; length of finish)
5. Overall Quality - 5 Points Available (do all of the elements work together?; seamless integration, i.e. complete package)
6. Non-Sensory Factors - 5 Points Available (if price is known, fair or good value (under/over valued?; if other ratings exist, in-line or above/below?; Winemaker specific qualities (e.g. last wine made); Production (easily obtainable/limited production-max of 1 point)

A wine will rarely score below 75 (unless a fault is detected, which produces a F) or above 95.

  • We expect the vast majority of wines we rate to score between 80-90. That being said, there is a large difference between an 81 and 89. Our hope is that Section #6--which may be referred to as the "catch-all"--will help differentiate and illuminate any two wines. 
To help understanding rating in relations to price, consider these categories:
  • Wines rated under 75 are not recommended for purchase. 
  • Wines rated between 76-80 are only recommended for immediate enjoyment. These wines are typically massed-produced and of low quality but can be obtained for well-under $10.
  • Wines rated between 81-85 are recommended 'good buys.'
  • Wines rated between 86-89 are recommended 'great buys.'
  • Wines rated between 90-95 are recommended 'outstanding buys.'
  • Wines rated above 95 are recommended 'screaming buys.' These wines are a connoisseur's and collector's dream. These wines will likely be harder to obtain and command a higher price, but are well-deserving of the chase. 

Why other systems didn't work for us and why an objective system is crucial
Simply stated, we needed to create our own system so that we're forced to do the work ourselves and not solely rely on the opinions of others. Additionally, we believe that our unique approach to rating and reviewing is the most consumer friendly. We'll save the in-depth history of how wine ratings became influential in increasing demand (and therefore prices) for another day, but needless to say, consumers at all levels desire a framework that (1) they can adequately understand, and (2) isn't based on subjective beliefs.

A Note on Price
Our goal is to never tell you what you should pay for a bottle of wine. You should note, however, that the average price of a bottle of wine in the U.S. is between $0-15. Last year, according to SVB report (insert link), over 70% of wine purchased sold for under $10. We attempt to give you as much information possible so that you, the budding wine connoisseur, can maximize any budget, whether $15 or $500. Likewise, the most expensive bottle isn't always the best just as the least expensive bottle isn't always the worst (especially if you find yourself tasting a lineup of diverse wines). Price is an indicator and something to measure the wine against.

Palate Disclaimer - Everyone's is DIFFERENT!
Often under-appreciated is the notion that everyone will enjoy a wine because it has a high rating or is expensive. Although a uniform rating system must be adaptable to consistently score all types of wines, and therefore account for the tiniest of nuances, it in no way reflects the fact that you, your wine friend, or even your family has the same or similar palate. A person's wine palate, relatable to children's food palate, is an ever evolving process. How much wine you've tasted, the diversity of wine you've explored (even if in the same grape varietal--e.g. you might like California pinot noir but have never tried Burgundy) and factors outside of wine such as your preference for sweet or savory foods all play a role in shaping your palate.

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