In short, a wine score is a numeric, subjective quality score assigned to a specific bottle of wine. In most cases, wine ratings are determined by one wine critic, but in some cases a rating is derived by input from multiple critics who taste the same wine at the same time.
It is the quickest and easiest way for a reviewer to express his or her opinion about the quality of the wine, and it helps (in addition to tasting notes) consumers and collectors decide which wine to buy.
The 100-point scale
Despite several major critics using a 20- or 5-point scale (based on stars), the 100-point scale is the most widely used method of rating wines. This scale was popularized by Wine Spectator magazine and by wine critic Robert Parker. Wine critics typically start by rating at a baseline of 50 points. Points are then added for specific quality characteristics, with the maximum number of points being 100. Each publication and reviewer uses their own unique criteria for rating wine, but in general, 80 - 100 points indicates the following:
- 80 - 84: above average to good
- 85 - 89: good to very good
- 90 - 94: excellent to superior
- 95 - 100: Extraordinary, exceptional and classic
Allen Meadows | www.burghound.com
Allen Meadows began as a successful financial executive, but found his higher calling in the wine world. In 2000, he founded his own wine publication with newsletters, wine reviews and tasting notes from Burgundy. He is a highly respected and acclaimed publisher in over 60 countries, with a particular interest in pinot noir wines from California and Oregon, but his passion for Burgundy wine remains the boldest.
Antonio Galloni | www.vinous.com | Twitter @AntonioGalloni | Instagram @antoniogalloni
Began as a novice wine enthusiast and tasting contributor to Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate, where he gained attention and respect within the global wine community. He eventually became a leading critic, even writing a third of their wine reviews in 2012. Galloni eventually left The Wine Advocate to start Vinous; a popular and trusted online wine publication that focuses on Italy, Champagne, Burgundy and California, among others. In 2020, Vinous became the owner of Cellar Watch, a tool for valuing wine collections, previously owned by Liv-Ex.
James Laube | www.winespectator.com
James Laube is The Wine Spectator's leading authority on California wines and has published several books on the subject. The first edition of his California Wines won the James Beard Award for Best Wine Book of the Year in 1996. He has been contributing to and publishing for The Wine Spectator since 1980 and is the leading contributor to the promotion of California wines on the world stage.
James Suckling | www.jamessuckling.com | Twitter @JamesSuckling | Instagram @james.suckling
A wine critic, journalist and cigar enthusiast, James Suckling's taste for the finer things in life has made him one of the world's most well-known and influential wine experts. He has over thirty years of experience in wine and was the Senior Editor and European Bureau Chief of The Wine Spectator. In 2010 he left The Wine Spectator to set up his own, untitled wine publication site, which offers current reports and information on current wines, as well as scoops, tasting notes, blog posts and videos.
Jancis Robinson MW | www.jancisrobinson.com | Twitter @JancisRobinson | Instagram @jancisrobinson
As Britain's best-known wine critic and journalist, Jancis Robinson is described by Decanter as "the world's most respected wine critic and journalist." She contributes a weekly column to The Financial Times, writes for her website JancisRobinson.com and has collaborated on some of the most popular wine books, such as The Oxford Companion to Wine, The World Atlas of Wine and Wine Grapes. Notably, in 1984 she was the first person outside the wine trade to pass the rigorous Master of Wine exams and was honored with the royal seal of approval, an OBE, by Queen Elizabeth II for whom she regularly advises on wine from the palace cellar.
Jeb Dunnuck | www.jebdunnuck.com
Jeb Dunnuck is an American aerospace engineer turned wine critic who discovered his passion for the wines of the Rhone Valley after traveling through the wine region for work. This led him to launch The Rhône Report in 2008, where he published newsletters about the Rhône. By 2013, Dunnuck was an established critic with a worldwide following. Robert Parker asked Dunnuck to join the Wine Advocate team, to which he agreed. He began writing about wine full time. After four years of publishing more reviews than any other wine critic, Dunnuck left The Wine Advocate to launch his own platform.
Monica Larner | www.robertparker.com | Twitter @MonicaLarner | Instagram @monicalarner
Monica Larner is an American wine critic born into a family of wine lovers. However, her career as a wine critic began with her move to Rome. She reported on Italian wines for Italy Daily and was approached by Wine Enthusiast to be their first-ever Italy-based correspondent. The years that followed were marked by Larner's love of Italian wine. She became the Italian reviewer for The Wine Advocate and later succeeded Antonio Galloni at RobertParker.com. Perhaps Larner's most notable contribution to The Wine Advocate was the addition of many Italian regions to their Vintage Chart, which lists the world's most cellar-worthy wines.
Neal Martin | www.vinous.com | Twitter @nealmartin | Instagram @nealmartin123
Before venturing into the world of wine publishing, Neal Martin worked for Lloyd's of London and moved to Tokyo for a short time to work as an English teacher. It was in Japan that he came into contact with wine when he worked for a Japanese wine export company. In 2003, he launched his own website, Wine-Journal, which caught the attention of Robert Parker. In 2006, Parker took Neal Martin under his wing as a protégé. At The Wine Advocate, Neal wrote articles and tasting notes on Sauternes and Burgundy. In 2016, he took over Parker's role as chief reviewer of Bordeaux En Primeur. After just two years in the role, Martin announced he was joining Vinous as Senior Editor and reviewer of Bordeaux, Burgundy, South Africa and New Zealand.
Richard Juhlin | www.champagneclub.com
Richard Juhlin, aptly titled "the world's number one champagne expert," is a Swedish critic who holds the record for tasting the most champagne (over 12,000). He focuses specifically on sparkling wine. He has made films about it, designed his own optimized champagne glasses and created a non-alcoholic wine called 'Richard Juhlin Blanc de Blancs'. He even came up with the concept of 'Champagne Hiking', hypothesizing that the taste of champagne is influenced by where and when you drink it. He is also a member of Decanter's international jury and now publishes his work on his own website.
Robert M. Parker, Jr. | www.robertparker.com | Twitter @Wine_Advocate | Instagram @wine_advocate
A household name in the industry and probably the most influential critic in the wine world. Robert Parker has in many ways shaped the wine industry to where it is today. The Financial Times once described his taste buds as the world's most highly regarded. In the 1970s, Parker founded the bi-weekly wine newsletter The Wine Advocate. This newsletter has amassed more than 50,000 subscribers and is best known for its influential reviews and wine reviews of Bordeaux, Rhone Valley and California wines, among others. More recently, Parker stopped reviewing Bordeaux En Primeur, handed over his role as editor-in-chief to Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW and sold his interests in The Wine Advocate.
Stephen Tanzer | www.vinous.com
Stephen Tanzer has been a wine critic, editor and publisher of the bi-monthly International Wine Cellar since 1985; with a particular focus on the wines of Burgundy, Piedmont (Italy), California and Bordeaux. In 2014, Antonio Galloni's Vinous acquired Tanzer's International Wine Cellar. The articles and published reviews are now part of Vinous' extensive archive.
Tim Atkin MW | www.timatkin.com | Twitter @timatkin | Instagram @timatkinmw
Tim Atkin is an active and high-profile British wine critic who regularly writes wine reviews for Women and Home, Intelligent Life, Off License News, The World of Fine Wines and Imbibe. His contributions have earned him many awards, including the UK Wine Guild Correspondent of the Year. He also hosts his own website with reviews, reports and tasting notes focused on Rioja, the Rhone Valley, South Africa, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Argentina, Brunello, Washington State, Napa and Oregon.
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