Wine Scores – What’s the Point?

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We’ve all seen them. Those display cards with rating scores next to bottles of wine at our retail stores.


Wine Advocate 92 points.

Wine Spectator 94 points.

Wine Enthusiast 89 points.


Face it, the score cards are there to sell you wine – and you’ll never see a rating under 85. So what’s the point? Further, is there any significant meaning to the scores and should you pay attention to them at all?


Scoring wines was originally meant to make the selection process easier for consumers. It may have achieved that, but the biggest effect has been on potential investors and traders in the wine market. Highly rated wines can be sold at higher prices.


There are lots of wine critics scoring wines, but three publications are considered the most prominent – and those are the ones you’ll likely see in retail stores.


Wine Advocate

Robert Parker, publisher of The Wine Advocate, he has had a profound effect on prices and demand for fine wines around the world. In spite of his recent “semi-retirement,” he’s still the most known and influential wine critic in the business.


Wine Advocate’s ratings:

96 – 100: Extraordinary, a classic of its variety

90 – 95: Outstanding, exceptional complexity and character

80 – 89: Barely above average to very good

70 – 79: Average with little distinction

60 – 69: Below average, but drinkable

50 – 59: Poor, unacceptable


Wine Enthusiast

Wine Enthusiast ratings are based on tastings by the magazine’s editors and other qualified tasting panelists.


Wine Enthusiast ratings:

95 – 100: Superb. One of the greats.

90 – 94: Excellent. Highly recommended.

85 – 89: Very good. May offer outstanding value if price is right.

80 – 84: Good. Suitable for everyday consumption.


Wine Spectator

Wine Spectator editors review more than 15,000 wines each year. Every year the magazine contains 400 to 1,000 wine reviews.


Wine Spectator ratings:

95 – 100: Classic, a great wine.

90 – 94: Outstanding wine. Superior character and style.

80 – 89: Good to very good.

70 – 79: Average. May have some flaws.

60 – 69: Below average. Drinkable but not recommended.

50 – 59: Poor. Undrinkable.


We think wine scores are much like movie reviews. If you’re familiar with the reviewer and usually agree with his opinion, you’re safe to choose a movie based on the review. Otherwise, you might be better off asking a friend.


When it comes to selecting a wine, remember that everyone has a different palate and different preferences. So buying on a high score alone may not get you the best wine for your tastes and money. Scores can be helpful but shouldn’t be the sole factor in your purchasing decision.


Our advice, in states that allow in-store tastings, is to attend a tasting at your favorite wine store and rate the wines yourself. And you don’t have to spend a dime to taste.



Barbara and Beverly