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

What’s the difference between Brix, Baumé, Oechsle and residual sugar?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains why measuring sugar content in grapes is so …

Jan 18, 2021

Will my wines get too cold in the garage?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny covers the pitfalls of storing wine in the garage, …

Jan 11, 2021

Dr. Vinny's 25 Top Answers to 'What's the Difference Between …?'

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny offers disambiguations for wine topics far and wide.

Jan 4, 2021

Dr. Vinny's Most Interesting Questions of 2020

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert, Dr. Vinny, revisits the most thoughtful questions …

Dec 31, 2020

Dr. Vinny Answers Your Pandemic Questions (About Wine)

Wine Spectator's resident wine expert, Dr. Vinny, revisits all your questions about wine …

Dec 28, 2020

Why is the name “Sauvignon” attached to both red Cabernet Sauvignon and white Sauvignon Blanc?

Wine Spectator's expert Dr. Vinny explains the relationship between Cabernet Sauvignon and …

Dec 21, 2020