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Wine Ratings Revisited

Wine Ratings Revisited

by Tim Elliott on July 25, 2007

Several weeks back I proposed a standardized wine rating scale for the wine blogosphere which generated a bit of discussion. Since then I’ve been thinking about how to implement this scale here and have decided to start rating all wines on the following scale with half-stars added for a bit more granularity:

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ Flawed, Not Recommended
Rating: ★★☆☆☆ Average
Rating: ★★★☆☆ Very good, Recommended
Rating: ★★★★☆ Delicious, A Wine of Distinction
Rating: ★★★★★ Outstanding, A Classic Wine

Note that this is an overall reflection of a wine’s quality and value as having a second scale for value seems too complicated.

It’s great to see other Wine 2.0 sites support this proposal (thanks, Philip, and great Facebook app!) and I expect others to follow. For devotees of the 100-point scale, I will also include that score in all reviews for the foreseeable future along with this 5-star rating.

I know this is somewhat of a contentious issue but I’m hoping some other wine bloggers join me by adopting the 5-star scale (I have noticed Andy begin to use this scale recently). Perhaps we might have some standardization in the wine blog world that seems to exist in the established wine press.

  • I’m still holding out hope that some clever web/wine 2.0 developer will find a new way to communicate that doesn’t parrot the print media….

  • The concern I have with my ‘implimentation’ is that I get quarter and half points….

  • Tim

    el jefe: I’m not proposing we “parrot the print media” but give readers a consistent way to compare wines across blogs and Wine 2.0 sites. I know that the 100-point scale wouldn’t work but perhaps this 5-star thing will… time will tell.

    Andrew: I was going to talk with you about those quarter stars… seems a bit eccentric to me 😉

  • hi Tim – I understand. It all just seems so conventional…

  • I’ve been rating wine on a 5-star system since May, when I started my $5 Wines Blog. I think it’s a much easier way to “rate” wine than the 100 point system. I also wrote down my own particular ratings for each star…

    I hope everyone jumps on board with the 5 stars!

  • gr

    @el jefe: First, 5-star ratings on web sites isn’t parroting print media, so much, it’s parroting netflix, BUT:

    “Parroting” in software UI design is not a bad thing. Recognizing the model with which a majority of users (and potential users) have already become comfortable and just using that model is not “stealing”, it’s just solid design. (Cf, desktop motif, bold/italic/underline buttons in all word processors, underlining/coloring text that will lead you somewhere else, changing mouse icons under context, so forth.)

  • Tim


    Thanks for your support and I’ll be reading your blog. Your focus on value is commendable given many of the wines you are tasting and I’d check out Trader Joe’s for some bargain Nebbiolo. They have one for about seven bucks that’s quite drinkable.

    gr: Good point on “parroting.” I like the idea of parroting NetFlix 😉

  • Very cool, I will look for that Nebbiolo! 🙂 I added your site to my link list or blog roll or whatever their callling it these days. Love the site!

  • Tim,
    I’ve started using Snooth as the review portion of my blog. I just blogged about it here.


    I’m using your rating system and keeping my reviews on Snooth. The inherent problem I see with a standard scoring process, is that it leaves out the uniqueness of each reviewers system. For instance, I may want to include some sort of a value quotient and a score. With this system I can’t do that. For instance there is no way for me to say that this wine is just average, but for $6 it is absolutely stunning.

    In the end it all comes down to what Tanzer has been railing on in his interviews at GrapeRadio. The score is just a guideline, the important thing is the actual review and tasting note. I think more important is a standardized format for reviews that allows sites to share information in a common way.

  • Integral to standardization is not agreeing on what system of communicating the overall impression of the wine (the final score/rating), but how one arrives at the score.

    Stars, moons, puffs, points etc, mean nothing without context and they mean little when they represent personal opinions of qulaity.

    Any system -stars, 5, 10, 20 or 100 points become more meaningful when the reader knows how the score or rating was derived.

    That is one aspect of context. The other is the seemingly unavoidable one in today’s wine writing – amateur and professional (WE, WA, or WS) alike: more often than not, a score represents the taster’s enjoyment of the wine. This is not often rooted in the fundamentals of what makes for a well made wine or what is the best example of a wine form given region and year – what it’s components and character should express.

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