Inside the Mind of Rob “The Wine Guy”
The Theory of Wine Rating
By Rob “The Wine Guy”
If you have ever read a wine magazine like the Wine Spectator, toward the end of the magazine you’ll notice that someone who claims to know more that you has placed a numerical value to the wines in an attempt to tell you whether or not its crap. Because of a lack of imagination, we too on The Wine Vault engage in this old fashion wine rating method. It has occurred to me, however, that without the proper guide, how we rate the wine has little value to you, especially Scott’s ratings. So with that, here’s a explanation of our rating rational…
To start, price does not factor into our (The Wine Vault) ratings. If a $5.99 wine is great (unlikely), it doesn’t get extra points because it’s a cheapo. A $5.99 wine is held to the same standards as a $50.00 bottle. That may seem unfair, however, wine is wine, and we are stern, but fair. The rating scale is 1 to 100, with 100 being a perfect score. Now, although it is a 100 point scale, someone has to actually die from consuming a wine for it to rate below a 50, literally die. So…in reality it’s a 50 point scale. Nevertheless, the scoring is as follows:
100 – 95 points
Wines scoring at this level are absolutely magnificent, practically perfect. Normally these wines are going to be higher in the price range ($50.00 +) and be rare, very rare. So while we will be enjoying ourselves on the show, you will not be able to recreate this enjoyment at home. With all that said, I cannot imaging a circumstance in which a 98 or above rating could be obtained. I have had wines that were rated 100, and while excellent, personal preference came into account in the rating. Obviously these wines are highly collectible, and we recommend them, assuming you have many, many dollars. With that, on a recent episode, the 2005 Numanthia Toro scored in this range, so those wines are out there…
94 – 92 points
Wines scoring at this level are extremely good and special wines. They may not be able to ascend to the classic ratings (95+) for an assortment of reasons, however we love these wines. While this range is made up of mostly the higher price range ($50.00 +), occasionally less expensive wines sneak in and score this high. Also, this range tends to be able to age well.
90 – 91 points
I know what you’re thinking, why have a class of ratings for just 2 points on the scale? Well, it turns out that there is a very good reason for this. Wines scoring 92 or above are exceptional and far superior to wines at 91 or below. It may seem strange, however, a bigger gap exists between 91 and 92 than just one point. It basically is the threshold between very good and special. I know that sounds stupid, but it was Scott’s theory, so write to him about it (He’s very arrogant). Anyway, a wine with a 90 is still very good, and for wines that are less expensive (under $30.00), it’s a solid score. For value wines (under $15.00), 90 is an excellent score. Also, these are great wines to have in the cellar to pull out from time to time. The ageability will vary, however, these wines are recommended all day long.
89 – 87 points
When you see wines with this score the first thing you should know is we like them. They tend to show good varietal character and even exhibit nice richness. With that, except for rare occasions, these aren’t cellar wines. They are great drinking wines and have wide appeal, but not ones we’d collect. Expensive wines ($30.00 +) are a bit of a disappointment when we rate them here, but we’d still drink them. Anything under $20.00 is very solid rated in this range.
86 – 84 points
This is a range that can denote “good” depending on the price. If we give something that costs more that $20.00 this rating, look for something else. If it’s under $10.00, look for it. Overall, this is a simple, but pleasant drinking wine. It tastes like it’s supposed to mostly, and there are not any real flaws (e.g. high sugar, green pepper, heat, tastes like 2016 19 Crimes Cabernet).
83 – 80 points
This range isn’t much different than 86-84, however, the wines typically are very mediocre. They are completely forgettable in their mediocrity, like Scott’s reviews. With that, typically these wines should be cheap, which makes them good choices for parties where the masses won’t care. Normally reviews at this level and lower are not published by mainstream magazines, assuming the wines are released for review. We at The Wine Vault, however, are rebels, so such reviews are released in all their horribleness.
79 – 75 points
In short, we really do not like these wines. They aren’t undrinkable, but we would drink something else if we could. Much of your budget grocery store wine falls into this category. A word that described these wines is blah.
74 – 70 points
Now we’re starting to talk about crappy wine. These wines aren’t just blah, they’re flawed in some way that is objectionable. For instance, 2015 Meomi Pinot Noir tastes of strawberry daiquiri. That is bad. Say it with me, THAT IS BAD!!!!!!!!! (Scott liked it) Another example would be a wine that tastes very light and vegetal such as Pepperwood Grove Cabernet, bad.
69 – hell
Yeah, these wines are trash. These wines are why spit buckets were created. They’re extremely flawed in some way, and are undrinkable. Wines in this range are terrible regardless of price. Unfortunately we have had more than a couple of wines score here. When we give a review in this range, avoid it.
Beyond the ratings, we here at The Wine Vault have a couple additional honors/dishonors that we bestow upon wines. The first is our Hall of Fame. Wines included score typically 92 and above. Wines scoring 90 or 91 are sometimes included, however, it depends on the wine’s cost. Beyond that we also have a Wall of Shame. There we include wines that suck, but should be better. Hence a $75.00 bottle that scores a 82 will receive the special treatment. Further, wines that are truly horrid (Tribunal, Scarlet Path) ends up on the wall regardless of price.
So there you have it, that’s the rating philosophy of The Wine Vault, and with that, I will bid you adieu!
-Rob “The Wine Guy”