Liquor Guides, Wine

Understanding Wine Ratings: What They Mean and Why They Matter.

There are thousands of varieties of wine available to the global market; with so much to choose from, how can you expand your horizons without getting burned on quality or price? Renowned sommeliers sought to answer this for casual and frequent consumers alike. Robert Parker first introduced a 100-point scale to the space via his publication, “The Wine Advocate.” Since then, several other reputable sources have developed similar systems, allowing consumers to compare a variety of opinions and ultimately choose the right wine for their chosen occasion.

A variety of systems does not necessarily mean one is superior or inherently correct in its scoring! Wine scores are meant more as an endorsement of the product being worth purchasing and consuming, but acceptable quality and price points are up to individuals to decide for themselves. Use wine ratings as a guide, not an absolute rule.

Below is an overview of the major wine rating systems so you can make informed purchases, whether in-store or online. Cheers!

Wine Enthusiast’s Rating Scale

  • Classic 98-100: The pinnacle of quality.
  • Superb 94-97: A great achievement.
  • Excellent 90-93: Highly recommended.
  • Very Good 87-89: Often good value; well recommended.
  • Good 83-86: Suitable for everyday consumption; often good value.
  • Acceptable 80-82: Can be employed in casual, less-critical circumstances.
  • < 80 Unworthy of further review.

Wine Advocate (by Robert Parker) Vintage Guide

  • 96-100 Extraordinary
  • 90-95 Outstanding
  • 80-89 Above Average to Excellent
  • 70-79 Average
  • 60-69 Below Average
  • < 59 Appalling

Wine Spectator’s 100 Point Scale

  • 95-100 Classic: a great wine
  • 90-94 Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style
  • 85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities
  • 80-84 Good: a solid, well-made wine
  • 75-79 Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
  • 50-74 Not recommended

James Suckling’s 100-point Scale

  • 95-100: Must buy.
  • 90-94: Outstanding.
  • 88-89: Good, not excellent.
  • < 88: Potentially worth buying; proceed with caution. Not recommended.
  • Two point ranges: Reserved for wines rated from the barrel & unfinished wines.

Jen Dunnuck’s Wine Rating System

  • 96-100: As good as it gets.
  • 90-95: Outstanding.
  • 87-89: Good to very good.
  • 80-86: Good to decent.
  • 50-79: Quaffable to undrinkable.

Vinous/Antonio Galloni Rating Scale (formerly International Wine Cellar)

  • 96-100: Exceptional
  • 90-95: Outstanding
  • 85-89: Excellent.
  • 80-84: Average.
  • 75-79: Below average.
  • < 75: Not worth your time.

Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri Scale

  • Tre Bicchieri: Excellent wines; .
  • Due Bicchieri: Very good wine.
  • Un Bicchiere: Good wine.