Wine-Rating Systems

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Photography by Janice Kleinschmidt

Below are descriptions of the most used wine-rating systems.

96-100: An extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine of its variety. Wines of this caliber are worth a special effort to find, purchase. and consume.

90-95: An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character.

80-89: A barely above average to very good wine displaying various degrees of finesse and flavor, as well as character with no noticeable flaws.

70-79: An average wine with little distinction except that it is soundly made; in short, a straightforward, innocuous wine.

60-69: A below average wine containing noticeable deficiencies, such as excessive acidity and/or tannin, an absence of flavor, or possibly dirty aromas or flavors.

50-59: An unacceptable wine.

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.

98-100: Classic — the pinnacle of quality.

94-97: Superb — a great achievement.

90-93: Excellent — highly recommended.

87-89: Very good — often good value; well recommended.

83-86: Good — suitable for everyday consumption; often a good value.

80-82: Acceptable — can be employed in a casual, less-critical circumstances.

Wines receiving a rating below 80 are not reviewed.

95-100: Superlative, rare finds.

90-94: Exceptional examples of their type.

86-89: Highly recommended; “you should check this out.”

80-85: Recommended as good examples of their variety or region.

Wine & Spirits does not report on wines that score less than 80. Wines that break the 90-point threshold meet all the basic requirements of being well made from good, clean fruit, balanced and pleasing. Aside from physical pleasure, the wine struck an emotional chord or brought an intellectual response by Wine & Spirits critics.

17-20: Wines of outstanding characteristics with no defects.

13-16: Standard wines with neither outstanding character nor defect.

9-12: Wines of commercial acceptability, but with noticeable defect.

5-8: Wines below commercial acceptability.

1-4: Completely spoiled wine.

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