There are numerous rating formats employed around the world when reviewing wine – stars, glasses, medals, points out of 20 and points out of 100 to name a few. However, the 100 point rating seems to have become the dominant format. However, some of us are beginning to wonder if this format is still relevant or is it in need of a major revamp or replacement.

Crowded at the top

The main problem is that too many wines are rated 90 points or more. It has become very crowded at the top end. Yes, there are a lot of very good wines being made. The consistency of wine quality is also improving every year. However, the rating system has not or cannot adapt to changing conditions. It’s now at the point that when a wine scores less than 90, you hide it from public view. And unless a wine rates 93-94 points it’s hardly worth bragging about. There are 100 points available but wine reviewers only use 15, producers only care about 10, and consumers only listen to 7. There needs to be a greater spread of scores. What’s wrong with 75 percent? When I was at school, 75 percent was pretty pleasing, 90 percent was rare and exceptional. So it should be with wine ratings.

Try the alphabet format

It will come to the point when the 100 point format completely breaks down because it fails to sufficiently differentiate between wines of different qualities and consumers lose faith in scores. Revamping or recalibrating the 100 point system seems doomed to failure. Every wine reviewer who uses the format will have to agree to new score standards (that’s not going to happen). Wine producers will have to accept that 75 points is a perfectly good score for a perfectly good wine (that’s not going to happen). Consumers will have to be pleased to pick up a 75 point wine for $20 and still think they are onto a good thing (that’s not going to happen). Eventually the 100 point format will be superceded by a completely novel format, as indeed the 100 point format was at one stage. Can I suggest the alphabet format where anything between A-H is reserved for all but exceptional wines, it’s still worth boasting about a P rating and only X,Y and Z are left for the unrecommended.

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