How does Wine Spectator's 100-point scale actually work?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

How does the point system work when rating a wine?

—Rob, Detroit

Dear Rob,

Wine Spectator’s 100-point scale is an attempt to help our readers understand our judgments of a wine’s quality, just as the accompanying tasting note is our attempt to describe its character.

A wine rated 80-84, for example, was judged to be good (“a solid, well-made wine”), while one rated 85-89 is very good (“a wine with special qualities”). When assigning a score, the taster judges the wine’s structure, flavors and typicity (how well it reflects its grape variety, region and vintage). In order to eliminate bias, all reviews are done “blind”—that is, the taster does not know the producer or price.

A score is an attempt to quantify a judgment that includes both subjective and objective components. It’s not like measuring something with a ruler or a scale. We use a methodology that helps us give each wine a fair and equal opportunity to show its best, and our tasters have extensive experience with the wines they are judging. We think that makes our reviews authoritative, credible and useful for our readers.

I recommend that you compare your own reactions to a given wine with Wine Spectator’s official review and decide for yourself if they help you choose wines you enjoy. We want to share our experience and our passion, and help you develop your own understanding and appreciation of wine.

—Dr. Vinny

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