Numerical ratings for wine are one of the the wine world's favorite all-night-debate topics. Nothing seems to polarize a crowd of wine lovers or engender such impassioned debate as the seemingly innocent question, "So just how useful is it to score wines, anyway?" Some people think these scoring systems (dominated by the 100 point method developed by Robert M. Parker, Jr.) are really useful tools for the consumer. Others think they're one of the worst things that's ever happened to the wine world.
It's probably not hard for you to guess where I come down on the issue. After all, I provide scores along with my reviews. But I've decided to use a 10 point scale instead of 100 because, in part, I have issues with the degree of specificity of the 100 point system (I can't tell the difference between a 96 and a 97 point wine). But I do think numerical ratings are a good thing and I'll show you why:
"Light garnet in color, this wine has a beautiful nose of tobacco, dried cranberries, violets, cedar and a light hint of oak. In the mouth it is very smooth, with classic cool-climate Pinot Noir flavors of cranberry and raspberry with a little tart pomegranate and lovely earthy, black tea flavors that taper into a substantial finish."
"This wine is blood colored with a pleasing nose of cinnamon, leather, redcurrants and tobacco leaves. On the palate it is bright and light with primary flavors of redcurrant and sour plum and a light spice as the wine finishes clean without much tannic structure. This is one to drink early and often"
Now tell me. Which one of these wines did I think was better? If you're reading my blog to find out about wines you might like, just a tasting note isn't going to give you enough information RELATIVE to the rest of the wines that you've seen me review here. Knowing that the first wine scored somewhere between an 8.5 and 9 on my scale, while the second one scored between 8 and 8.5 helps you at least judge which one I liked more., and if you're familiar with my palate (a key point here) then those scores are actually really helpful.
Having said all that, there are definitely issues with numerical ratings for wine that have serious implications in the business. Here's an article I came across the other day that captures many of them eloquently and with some brevity.
So I thought I'd raise the issue and ask you: helpful numbers or wicked beast?
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. 2015 Roederer Award Winner.Learn more.
The Essence of Wine Wins a Roederer Award I'll Drink to That: Carenn Jackson of Glazer's Vinography Unboxed: Week of September 13, 2015 Vinography Images: True Blue 2015 Masters of Wine Champagne Tasting: September 28, San Francisco Is Wine Ready for its Close Up? Warm Up: Pre-Prohibition Texas Wine I'll Drink to That: Chad Carey of Hot Joy 2015 Wine & Spirits Top 100 Tasting: October 20, San Francisco Wine News: What I'm Reading the Week of 9/13
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune