Is a 95-point wine from a 98-point vintage "below average"?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

If a wine's score is lower than the region's vintage rating, does that mean the wine is below average quality for the vintage?

—Matt, New York

Dear Matt,

Wine Spectator's wine ratings are not weighted by the quality of the vintage (however, our vintage ratings do take wine ratings into account; more on that in a bit). A 91-point wine is a 91-point wine, no matter the overall quality of the vintage. Our scores do not take quality of the vintage into account, and a 91-point wine from a lesser vintage is neither superior nor inferior to a 91-point wine from an outstanding vintage.

In addition to reviewing individual wines, we also summarize the overall quality of regions in specific years. These vintage ratings are a snapshot of what to expect, and our wine tasters arrive at their score for a vintage by looking at many things, including the number and percentage of outstanding wines they tasted. So even though a 91 is a 91 no matter the vintage, you could expect more wines to score 90 points or higher in exceptional vintages than in more difficult vintages.

—Dr. Vinny

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