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Explaining the Scribblings Wine Rating  Add/Read Comments

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Wine Ratings - 100 point scale, 20 points, plus or minus, half points, 5 points, stars or barrels. There are many ways to rate or grade a wine. And equally as many comments and blog posts on the advantages and negative thoughts on each.

A scale is the only way to impart a snapshot of a wine (for specifics you read the text) and enable comparisons between wines (whether that is a good thing or otherwise, it is up to the user). It's easy, it's visual and as a numeric, simplicity for all those comparison websites (Adegga, Snooth etc) to manage and compare.

There have been several suggestions to 'impose' a universal rating for bloggers - my friend Rob (Wine Conversation) talked about a +2/+1/0/-1/-2 rating, which I rather liked but this is, in essence, just a five point scale as advocated by Tim at WineCast (and subsequently added to the ratings on Spittoon).

Nancy took the time to scribble a comment the other day basically asking why the 100 point scale has such prominence on Spittoon. The answer is historical. A now defunct wine site used the 100 point scale to grade the wines, as all my notes were stored on this database the 100 point scale was 'imposed' on me. You were not able to record a wine without a score.

But if you roll over any of the green 'Scribblings Ratings the breakdown of each score is displayed. Four ratings - Drinkability, Interest, Value and Enjoyment are each assigned 1-5 points with 1 being poor or bad, 5 being excellent or superlative. Totalling these supplies a rating out of 20, the method Nancy's friend, in her comment, advocates. To convert this to a 100 point rating the scores are totalled, doubled and added to a base 60.

The ratings themselves are self-explanatory I believe.

The fact I don't list the 20 point score is for simplicity and clarity; it is enough work to include the five point score! But of course a 1-20 rating is easily calculated - the 90 point Willunga Creek Black Duck Cab-Merlot is 15 points (5+3+3+4). On the five point scale it is 3.75, an average of the four criteria.

Overly complicated? Maybe, but I know of no better way to encapsulate those four criteria. No one else I'm aware of uses this idea. No one else though has such a transparent method of displaying cost value, pure drinkability, how interesting the story or grapes behind the wine is, or how enjoyable the drinking experience is.

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This entry Explaining the Scribblings Wine Rating is under General


No ratings system is going to suit all of the people, all the time.

Personally (in my notebooks), I use a tick/cross system (with the occasional half or plus!). The problem with wine is the fact that it's so personal: I can drink a wine that I recognise as a good wine but still not like it. I think the most important thing is that the person using whatever system is both comfortable with it and consistent in the application of it.

Sometimes I am reduced to simply putting exclamation points in my notes -- or not -- because the whole thing is indeed so personal. Besides, with my lack of experience, how do I know what's great?

By the way, my professional friend blames and loathes Robert Parker for the 100 point scale. "Ruined the wine industry," etc. etc. He has strong opinions.

What ever works for you I guess! But if you believe in your own palate (I had a revelatory moment several years ago!) then you should trust your opinions.

But the point is to combine value with enjoyment etc. The latter is the most personal and is highly influenced by mood, setting and other people.

I neglected to mention that the idea for the scores came from The Wild Bunch: Great Wines from Small Producers by Patrick Matthews. It was published in 1997 so the recommendations are going to be a little out of date; but the book was very inspiring for me at the time. I think I should re-read to see if it still holds true!

I have tried this system, and it just doesn't work for me. Where I have a problem is the value score. I would prefer to rate my wines based on the wine itself. Once it is rated (according to my own palate of course), I can evaluate value based on the price I paid for the quality of wine I got.

Of course there must be some sort of enjoyment factor in the rating for this to work as a tool to help me to determine my wine purchases.

That's exactly what I do Lindsay - I look at the other criteria first and then look at the retail price and decide whether the wine offers value at that price. Several wines I have tried have been marvellous but have excessively high retail prices which drops their overall rating down (and vise versa too obviously).

hi andrew - i like this type of rating so much that I'd like to adopt it for The Cru if you don't mind too much?

I always swore that I'd never assign a numerical value to a wine but see that for reference purposes it does help.

I might change one of the criteria to "memorability" instead of interest or enjoyment, not sure which one or if even thats a good idea.

either way with your blessing i'd like to use the rating system on the cru...let me know if thats ok.

Do I mind? Far from it; I'd be honoured that someone else uses it!

For me 'memorability' is actually part of 'interest'. This encapsulates the story behind the wine, unusual grapes and so on. Although it could also be part of 'enjoyment' - did I enjoy the wine enough to want to buy another bottle?

thanks andrew, appreciate it.

yes i see where memorability fits in!

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