We've all seen the scores on the labels and in the advertisements promoting a the wonders of a specific wine. Where do they come from, what do they mean, or do they mean anything at all?
Justin Ove, Ambassador of Wine Education, Arizona Stronghold Vineyards, breaks it all down.
What are wine scores?
Wine scores are a simple means of navigating through a broad selection of wines. With so many choices on the market today, a wine score can make selecting a wine easier for the consumer.
How are wines scored?
First and foremost, wines are scored in a blind setting with the only information given about the wines to be rated being the varietal and/or region where they were produced. No information on vintner or price is known, and a score is never changed once the wine is revealed.
To start, scorers begin by tasting a wine they have rated in the past in order to get a base standard for comparison. Each taster will taste and rate up to 60 wines in a day, including wines they have scored in the past in the blind tasting as a means of maintaining consistency - a sort of quality control.
There are a number of different wine scoring templates, ranging from 1-3 all the way to 1-100. The most common template used in the United States is the 100-point system, which was developed by the famous Robert Parker of The Wine Advocate magazine.
According to Ove, the 100-point system can be complicated if you are doing the scoring, but for consumer interpretation, it's pretty simple.
Ove says, fifty points is given right out of the gate just for being a wine made from grapes, so the absolute lowest score a wine can be given is fifty points. According to Ove, this would be an undrinkable, terrible wine with nothing good to be said.
From the fifty-point marker, Ove says the main changes occur at every ten-point mark - with a 100-point wine being "an extraordinary wine of profound and complex character," as Robert Parker would say.
The Wine Spectator explains scoring like this:
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.
As with anything, there are pros and cons to the wine ratings.
According to Ove, one of the benefits is they can be used as loose guidelines when purchasing wine, especially if you can find a critic who shares a similar palate with you. One of the negatives, Ove says, it is very easy to place too much emphasis on wine scores, purchasing them by score alone. Another downfall, is a good wine score can force the price of an affordable bottle of wine to skyrocket.
Ove goes on to say, by placing too much importance on the score you will miss out on a lot of great wines that haven't been scored, so it is important to trust your instincts and buy what you like.
Join Arizona Stronghold Vineyards for its next wine club event - Grapes on the Green - (open to non-members as well) at the exclusive Gainey Ranch Golf Club in Scottsdale.
Enjoy nine holes of golf, followed by a blind tasting and educational scoring session on Sunday, April 29 for even more from Justin Ove on the art of wine scoring.
Visit www.azstronghold.com for more information or contact Holly House at (928) 639-2789 extension 214 or by email at HHouse@AZStronghold.com for reservations.
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