Here's the problem: the traditional 100 point wine rating scale is useless for most consumers.
Why? Because it does not even attempt to consider a wine's price! Here's a dirty little secret the wine industry would rather you didn't know:
Take a look at these two side-by-side wine listings we recently pulled from a major wine retailers website.
The ratings? Very similar! The cost? Vastly different! Which would you rather have for $290? 19 bottles of a 91-94 point rated wine or just 1?
The answer lies in our unique rating system that builds a wine's cost into the rating, to ensure you're always getting your money's worth. Read on for how it works.
At its heart, our rating system is fairly simple and admittedly a bit subjective. It's simple by design. With a background in analytics, my first inclination is to design an extremely complex formula, analogous to, say, the convoluted QB rating in football that no one can understand. Instead, I decided it's best to keep a wine rating system as basic as possible. All wines are rated on two factors: taste and cost. From there I came up with an algorithm that combines both of these into one overall rating.
The Taste Rating
A simple scale from 1–10. I'm endlessly confused by the 100-point rating system given by the major wine magazines and critics. If you have 100 points, why are 80 percent of wines rated between 85 and 94? Simplify, simplify, simplify. This rating is subjective, so your opinion may vary.
And since I get asked this question a lot, while I don't put a lot of stock in the traditional 100 point scoring system for the reasons noted above, if forced, I would line up my Taste Rating scores as follows:
- 10 - 94-100 points
- 9 - 91-93
- 8 - 89-90
- 7 - 87-88
- 6 - 85-86
- 5 - 83-84
- 4 - 81-82
- 3 - 79-80
- 2 - 77-78
- 1 - 76 or less
The Cost Rating
Again, a 1–10 scale, but as price goes up, the score goes down.
The Overall Rating
To score really high, a wine must be cheap and good. The more expensive the wine gets, the harder it is to attain a high score (unless the taste rating is off the charts, which is the way it should be, right?). We’re trying to maximize our dollars here!
8.3–10: Bulk Buy! (Buy as much as you can because it's awesome)
7.8–8.2: Highly Recommended (You're gonna want more than one)
7.0–7.7: Recommended Buy (Buy a bottle, you won't be disappointed)
Saturday Splurge: Wines over $20 that are so good they justify spending more
Ready to start finding those great value wines? Check out our Best Of Lists covering all the major varieties and regions plus the best wines and tips for shopping popular retailers like Trader Joe's and Costco. Find a wine you love that we haven't reviewed? Join us in our Facebook Group to tell us about it!
Note: Many of the wines that we review are free media samples, which is definitely a nice perk. Rest assured we are still 100% independent and we treat all wine the same, whether we bought it or not. As always, our reviews are based on the whole experience of drinking the bottle, usually over two days, and how the wine changes. No one sip tasting notes allowed!