Wine Rating Systems
I have a major issue with the current state of wine rating. I think the system is simply another way for corporate-owned magazines to generate advertising dollars. What better way to make a buck than to give a top rating to a wine, then sit back and wait for the winery to pour marketing dollars into print and Internet ads?
How many times have you seen a highly rated wine discussed in an article and then at the end of that same article, the ad pages are promoting this newly acquired rating? This system gives too much power to the magazines and wine rating experts. And it presents an opportunity for dishonesty, favoritism and kick backs.
A Flawed Scoring System
When we were all back in school, the grading system was based on a 100-point system. However, a student could actually score a 48/100 or totally hose the test and score 18/100. That is not the case with wine. I’ve researched several wine rating systems, both foreign and domestic; and all of them cease granting scores below 60. So, what’s the point of using 100? Plus, these scores do not accurately reflect the average wine drinker’s experience. I mean really. Who among us can distinguish between a 91-point wine and one that scored a 94? It’s a trick to get us to fork over more money for wine and to have the winery fork over more money for advertising.
Wine is Not a Competition
My other major issue with the wine rating systems is wine drinking is not a competition. Wine should be enjoyed with the pretense of point systems. I’m not saying I wouldn’t love to be given the opportunity to try both the 94-point, as well as the 91-point wine. Wouldn’t you? The more wine I get to taste, the better. However, it doesn’t mean I’m going to be impressed with the wine or agree with the rating. On how many occasions have you been unimpressed by a 90-plus point wine that you drank? You’ll run out of fingers keeping count.
A Meaningful System
So if a system “must” to be used, I prefer a 5-point system, where “5” is the highest mark and “1” is the lowest. Using my 5-point system, a score of 5 equals an A, 4=B, 3=C, 2=D and 1=F. Compare this to a rating of 85 or 83. WTH does that mean? If you tasted a wine you absolutely hated, wouldn’t you be comfortable giving it an “F”? I would. An “F” clearly demonstrates your distaste for that bottle and you aren’t doing a disservice to anyone who reads your rating. They’d clearly know you thought the wine sucked.
My system is something everyone can get down with because it’s a far more meaningful rating system. We grew up with this one. And one that doesn’t take itself too seriously by using scores like 88 or 89.
Days are Numbered
Although the Robert Parker’s of the world have saddled us with this 100-point wine rating system, I do believe its days are numbered. I believe as younger wine drinkers become more prevalent and marketing dollars are shifted to this demographic, they will view this as an antiquated system. They will shun it in favor of one that simply asks, “Would you buy this wine?” It doesn’t get any simpler than that.