Several writers score wines on a 100-point scale popularized by R. Parker jr., and American lawyer turned wine critique.
Scoring wine is a personal matter, and some like writers like Jancis Robinson, and English wine critique, scores on a 20-point scale; others prefer five stars, some even three glasses.
Decanter magazine has a policy not to score any wine, but describe according to their criteria.
When reading any wine description and looking at the score, you have to know your critiques. James Halliday, a famous Australian writer and wine judge, rates as much as five to six points higher than most.
Other reviewers have blind sports for wines they specialize in, or upgrade their country’s products. In the wine world, high scores indicate a critic’s stamp of approval for quality, value, complexity and character.
The key to making scores most meaningful for you is to learn which expert palates align most closely with your own and look for those as staring points for your discoveries.
R. Parker jr. is an expert on Bordeaux, and known to like powerful wines, Antonio Galloni who contributes to the famous wine publication Wine Advocate, specializes in Italian wines, James Laube is an important critic of the Wine Spectator, and specializes in California, Jancis Robinson who writes for a number of publications including her own website evaluates wines from all over the world, and Gambero Rosso, an influential Italian wine magazine uses three glasses.
Of course critics score wines that are made available to them. Few buy, if any, wine they score. A few may buy a bottle or two after release on the market to confirm their findings with the one made available to them either my the producer or importer.
The 100-point system functions as follows:
Each wine starts with 50 points, then five points are allocated for colour and appearance, aroma 15, flavour and finish 20, and overall quality 10.
95 – 100 scoring wines are considered exceptional and classics of the category
90 – 95 Excellent
80 – 90 Very fine
75 – 80 acceptable to fine
Below 75 Why bother?
The taste of wine is perceived differently in different settings, moods, time of the day, and by the scorer. Some like dark, brawny red wines; others wines that are delicate and elegant.
All important is the palate as well as the educational background of the scorer.
Should a Syrah’s aroma from northern Cotes du Rhone be the same as that of a Syrah (or Shiraz as the Australians call the variety) from the Barossa valley in South Australia? Or a Pinot Noir from Oregon like one from Burgundy?
What are the benchmarks?
Also to consider is the fact that the bottle presented may not have been transported as it should. It could have been exposed to high or too low temperatures. It may also be affected by a host of defects that impair taste, flavour and aroma.
Wiens change over time pending storage condictions, and itn the glass. A wine may appear to be very appealing at first and then quickly lose its charm and apepal.
Overall scores must be looked upon guidelines, the more elevant part of any evaluation is emaningfull description.