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How Wines are Scored

July 31, 2014 - Norman Bentley

Having been in the wine business for many years, and also having been a judge at wine competitions, I am often asked what goes into scoring a wine. The first thing that should be noted is that all opinions about wine are just that, opinions. The most important opinion is yours. If you like the wine, then that is the only opinion that really counts. When scoring wines the majority of opinions are based on a one to one hundred scale, while some use a more simple one to ten scale.

A few basics when scoring are that first the taste should be reflective of the grape variety it represents. Secondly, the wine should have good balance between the fruit and the acidity. Third, would be how well the wine compares to other examples of the same variety, and of course, the most important factor is that the wine is pleasing to the palate.

I receive sample bottles of wine from wineries and their marketing agencies, as well as making purchases of my own at local retail outlets. My criteria is to write about wines which I feel are in the 85 and up category on the one to one hundred scale. I do not write about wines that are inferior because I would rather write about wines which are enjoyable, and in today’s market place, there are many to choose from. When I was in retail, I used to tell customers, “I taste a lot of bad wines so that you don’t have to.”

Today there are thousands of good wines to choose from, and many are in the ten to twenty dollar range which fits most people’s pocketbooks. I hope that Norm’s Tasting Notes is a useful guide to help make your dinner or special occasion a successful one.


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