Knowing your wine scores

As a wine consumer, it’s useful to have a basic grasp of the different wine scoring systems. As wine is so subjective, I don’t think every buying decision should ever be based purely on a score. Critics reviews can conflict and they are often looking for something different to what the everyday wine drinker is after. It should, however, be the case that a wine is scored based on its merits. For what it is, not for how it suits the taste of that particular person.

We’ve been working hard recently to get our wines up to date with Parker scores. The Langmeil Three Gardens is a nice example. Type “Robert Parker” into the search bar on the homepage and you’ll get the idea.

Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate (100-point scale)

This is the most prolific wine scoring scale. American wine critic Robert Parker based it on the American high school system of marking. It is the bases for most scoring systems used today. Parker’s influence is so big, he can help a winery sell thousands of extra cases when he reviews with a high score.

96-100: An extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine of its variety. I think wines of this caliber are worth a special effort to find, purchase and consume.

90-95: An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. I consider these terrific wines.

80-89: A barely above average to very good wine displaying various degrees of finesse and flavour, as well as character with no noticeable flaws.

70-79: An average wine with little distinction except that it is soundly made. In short a straightforward, innocuous wine.

60-69: A below average wine containing noticeable deficiencies, such as excessive acidity and/or tannin, an absence of flavour, or possibly dirty aromas or flavours.

50-59: A wine I deem unacceptable.

James Halliday’s Wine Companion (100-point scale)

94-100: Outstanding. Wines of the highest quality, usually with a distinguished pedigree.

90-93: Highly recommended. Wines of great quality, style and character, worthy of a place in any cellar.

87-89: Recommended. Wines of above-average quality, fault-free and with clear varietal expression.

84-86: Fair to good. Wines with plenty of flavour (usually varietal) and good balance; free of technical faults.

80-83: Everyday wines. Price is particularly relevant; represent good value.

75-79: Also tasted. Usually wines with some deficiency, technical or otherwise

Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale

95-100: Classic, a great wine.
90-94: Outstanding, a wine of superior character and style.
80-89: Good to very good, a wine with special qualities.
70-79: Average, a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws.
60-69: Below average, drinkable but not recommended.
50-59: Poor, undrinkable, not recommended.

Decanter’s 5 star rating system

5 stars: Outstanding quality, virtually perfect example
4 stars: Highly recommended
3 stars: Recommended
2 stars: Quite good
1 star: Acceptable

Jancis Robinson’s 20-point scoring system

20 – Truly exceptional
19 – A humdinger
18 – A cut above superior
17 – Superior
16 – Distinguished
15 – Average, a perfectly nice drink with no faults but not much excitement
14 – Deadly dull
13 – Borderline faulty or unbalanced
12 – Faulty or unbalanced


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