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Marina Elettra Snow
February 11, 2021 | Marina Elettra Snow

Wine Ratings Demystified

Hi wine friends!

I want to take a moment to demystify wine ratings for you. How do you know what a wine rating means? Should you buy wines based on ratings?

One thing that most people don't realize is that the 100-point scale really starts at 50. You won’t find a wine rated below 50. In all honesty, you probably won’t find a wine rated less than 80 because if it's below 80 that means that it didn't get a good rating. Most winemakers of course, won’t put a poor rating on their wine.

As we get from 80-point wines and up what are we talking about?

The other thing that you need to remember is that wine critics and their ratings are subjective. Their wine ratings are based on their own palette and what they considered to be a great wine as well as what is the objective of the rating that they're giving. For example, when we look at the Wine Spectator Top 100, they're talking about value. So, they're giving you a rating that implies the value of the wine. This refers to the quality-price ratio, does this mean it's one of the world's best wines? There are other wine critics like James Suckling, for example, he tends to rate wines based on tradition or classical representation of a wine. When we look at his top 100 Italian wines, you know that if you get a high rating Brunello from James Suckling, you're getting an outstanding example, of that particular type of wine.

It’s important to note that, ratings are subjective. Some critics prefer wines that are subtle, and others prefer wines that are bold. So again, when you're going to go with wine ratings as a criterion for buying a wine recognize that it doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to like the wine based on the rating. It means that whoever was reviewing and rating the wine, valued its presentation whether it's a bold example of a traditional wine or a subtle example of a more classical wine. It's important to get behind the rating and understand what the objective was.

Do you want to buy wines based on ratings? Si and non, as we would say in Italian! It can be a good indicator of a quality wine. It could be an indicator of a good value for the price, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to like it.

I'm going to circle around now and say that one of the things that I hope to achieve in creating my portfolio of wines is that people who get to know me and my selection will know whether or not my palate is in line with theirs.

I don't give wine ratings. I would never pretend to be of that level of skill to be able to critic wines in that way, but I do know what I like, and I do know that my palate is very well matched with many of my clients. People buy wines from me because they know that if Nina likes it, they're probably going to like it too. And of course, that's not to say you should only buy wines from people who you know, but if you do tend to buy quantities of wine from a particular source, whether it's a Rep on the floor at an important wine shop or a particular importer or retailer like myself, people tend to go back to someone who's palette is similar to their own. I believe that's more important than an actual wine rating.

This is what I keep in mind when I'm shopping for wines. A lot of my producers will say they have a 95-point wine, a 98-point wine, a 99-point wine and in my world, that's important because I know that other important bodies have rated the wine highly so if I like it as well, I'm going to buy it and I'm going to share it with you.

Feel free to send me a message if you’d like more information about wine ratings. Good luck in your search for high-quality wines! Again, remember more wines are unrated than there are rated wines so balance it out, go with your gut, and ask your friends who are experts if you need to.

Ciao for now!


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