The question of ratings

So, I’ve got an ongoing crisis of faith with regard to wine ratings. I’m not a fan of the 100-point system. You can read my full dissertation on this subject here and here. However, I realize that having some sort of rating system is helpful. It has helped me in the past to quickly remember which wines I liked best at a big tasting, and it gives people who are reading my reviews some manner of perspective when reading one review against another. So, I had previously established the 4-Awesome scale. My philosophy was, of course, that wine is awesome and should be rated as such. I defined my original scale like this:

4 Awesomes – One of the best wines of it’s kind I’ve ever had.
3 Awesomes – An excellent wine, I would absolutely drink it again, and you should totally try it.
2 Awesomes – A good wine. I’d drink it again, but no great tragedy if I never do.
1 Awesome – Drinkable. That’s about it.
0 Awesomes – Drink water.

The issue that has arisen as I have continued to taste and score wines according to this scale is that it may be too limited. I’ve had several situations where I rated several wines 3 Awesomes, then going back and tasting them again, or tasting them next to each other for the first time, I found that I liked one more than another. Now, they all still fit my criteria as I defined the 3-Awesome rating, but if I like one of them more should it get a higher score?

When I first decided on this scale it was on the assertion that a more precisely defined rating system is really just a misguided attempt to assign an objective score to a subjective assessment, and I still think that. However, since we are talking about my opinion I can certainly apply an objective score based on my assessment of the wine, can’t I? So then the question becomes, do I use the 100-point system, taking into account how I feel about it, or do I just expand my scale to 10 or 20 points, with the commitment to actually use the full range of my chosen scale as it is appropriate?

I’m really torn here.

  1. Personally, it only matters if you really want to quantify wine in some sort of context. My suggestion is complex, expensive, and and time consuming. However, it’s unique and probably is more helpful to the consumer given that it’s based on multiple tastes.

    Here’s how it would work:

    You taste a wine and decide that you like it. You keep a note of the wine. After you taste ten or so of these wines which fit in a similar category, you invite a panel of five or so tasters to sample the wines in a flight – yourself included. Blind tasting would be ideal, but double blind might could be subject to debate. The panel rates the wines in order of “most liked to least liked” and the notes are included in the review. Because the blog and scores would appear with your name attached, you could have two separate rankings for the wines – one would be your own and one would be the panel’s.

    This system throws out the idea of a scoring system and simply judges wines against each other – which could be more useful for the consumer if they’ve tasted any of the wines in the flight.

    Like I said – complex, time consuming, and expensive…but accurate.

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