Scoring Wine

Turning something as complex as wine into a score is always going to be controversial. Many critics have advanced their own methodologies for the scoring of wine, however, it is the scoring system of Robert Parker that currently reigns supreme.  Hugh Johnson, Oz Clarke, Jancis Robinson and John Platter are just a few examples of critics using different scoring systems. When critics use the same systems of scoring for the same wine they can be compared in their ‘objectivity’ despite the fact that the appreciation of wine remains subjective. A few quick searches on winesearcher demonstrates the vast differences between the views of different critics.

Our Scoring: Parker Points

Robert Parker’s scoring system has become ubiquitous within the wine world, used by critics and retailers around the world.  Whilst Robert Parker himself highlights the importance of the tasting note over the score, the rest of the wine industry is often far less discerning. We use the 100 point scoring system throughout this website primarily because in the current era it is expected that a wine will be scored.  Given that this scoring system was developed by Robert Parker we take his own notes as the reference in our scoring. Robert Parker’s system permits scores between 50 and 100 points, with wines below 70 being of low standard and wines above 95 vanishingly rare.

There is a myriad of questions to be asked about the scoring of wine. As just one example: Should wines be judged alongside their peer group or alongside the wider world of wine? Whilst we would like to be able to taste and score all of our wines blind we are unfortunately not equipped to taste under the same clinical conditions advocated by Robert Parker. As such context, glassware and preconception may have greater bearing on the overall score. Where tasting conditions are insufficiently controlled scores are not provided. Price is not taken into account when scoring wines on this scale.  As in Robert Parker’s guidance it is the tasting note that is of most importance whilst the scores give a rough guide of where a wine belongs.  

The Impact of Scores:

A high or low score from a well regarded critic can make or break a wine, even from an otherwise prestigious producer. At the high end those wines commanding 95+ points often have eye-watering price tags, and at the lower end reviews from magazines from decanter lead to wines flying off the shelves.  There is a risk of score inflation with vested interests leaving us dependent on the integrity of those scoring the wines. Even budget retailers such as Lidl use the 100 point scale in selling their wines – a retailer that for the most part gives reasonably realistic scores.

We actively buy and taste wines across the range of possible scores. It is far more important to have a wine that suits the occasion than maximizing the number of points you are drinking. Our scores are a guide to our own experiences of the wines tasted – we encourage you to come to your own judgments.

Take caution putting too much trust in scores – it would be a shame to ruin your impression of that special bottle because it does not score as highly as you hoped.