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

Ask Dr Vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, but you can call me Vinny. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the fine points of etiquette to the science of winemaking. And don't worry, I'm no wine snob—you can also ask me those "dumb questions" you're too embarrased to ask your wine geek friends! I hope you find my answers educational, empowering and even amusing. And don't forget to check out my most asked questions and my full archives for all my Q&A classics.

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

How to Taste Tasting Descriptors Ask Dr. Vinny

More In Dr. Vinny

Why do wines taste different outdoors?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains some of the many environmental factors that can …

Sep 7, 2020

How do you order a glass of red wine? I want to try Zinfandel but I’m not sure how to word it.

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers tips for ordering wine at a restaurant.

Sep 18, 2020

Why are beers aged in wine barrels? And what's a "foeder"?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why large, used wine barrels, or "foudres," have …

Sep 16, 2020

Can I recycle wine bottles that have metal or plastic capsules on the top? Is it true that some capsules contain lead?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers tips for recycling wine bottles and handling older …

Sep 14, 2020

Half of a broken cork ended up in my wine bottle. Is that OK?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers advice for what to do when a cork breaks.

Sep 11, 2020

Are all wine barrels toasted?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why oak barrel staves are toasted.

Sep 9, 2020