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Dear Dr. Vinny,

Could you break down Wine Spectator's 100-point scale? Is the total score an accumulation of points earned for various categories like color, aroma, mouthfeel, etc.?

—Ingeborg, Hurst, Belgium

Dear Ingeborg,

While I know that some publications that use the 100-point scale break down the points the way you describe, we do not do that at Wine Spectator. Our scores—along with our tasting notes—are how we try to help our readers understand our opinion of a wine’s quality and character. Rather than weighting points for individual aspects of color, aroma or finish, our score is an overall grade.

Think of it as a score on an essay, rather than a multiple-choice exam. We ask ourselves broader questions: Does the wine make a compelling case for being complex and structured? Does it display flavors and typicity that reflect its grape variety or blend, region and vintage?

I’d like to point out that we use a methodology that helps us give each wine a fair chance, no matter who made it or how much it costs. All wines are reviewed in blind tastings conducted in our office (unless otherwise noted), so the producer and the price are not known when the score is assigned.

We encourage wine lovers to compare our scores with their own impressions of wines to see if Wine Spectator’s reviews can help them choose wines they like. In the end, we want our scores to be one tool of many in helping wine lovers develop a deeper appreciation of wine.

—Dr. Vinny

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