Grape Tips Tuesday: What Do Wine Ratings & Scores Mean?

This Week In Wine 101: Wine Ratings Explained & Simplified

What does a wine score mean and what is a good, average, above average and great score?

Many of us have seen wine scores on a bottle, printed in a guide, newspaper, magazine, or promoted online – but what does a wine score mean exactly? Who determines the score a wine receives? Better yet, what’s a good, average, above average and great score? And more importantly, should you base your future purchases on wine scores?

Wine scores have existed for several decades and continue to have a profound affect on the wine market. Often times, wine scores determine how consumers, collectors and investors decide which bottle(s) to purchase. For those of us who don’t speak “wino” and aren’t exactly familiar with every varietal, region, etc., wine scores help us hone in on a wine we may fancy.

So, what’s the process a critic goes through when evaluating or grading a wine? Usually, when wine critics are asked to review a wine they are blindfolded and have no idea what they are tasting – swirling, sniffing, tasting, savoring and spitting are the motions of this process followed by each critic jotting down their opinions about the quality of the wine they’ve just sampled.

Let’s take a look at some of the different methods critics use for scoring a wine. There are several different methods that critics use to place a score on a wine. The most popular wine scoring table is the 100-point system, used (most famously) by Robert Parker (RP), one of the world’s most acclaimed wine critics, Wine Advocate (WA) and Wine Spectator (WS) along with many others. Famed wine critic, Jancis Robinson, Decanter magazine and more – use the 20-point system, while the 5-point scale tends to use stars to grade their wines as opposed to points. Below we’ve listed what certain scores represent.


100 Point Wine Rating System

20 Point Wine Rating System

5 Star Wine Rating System



Grape Certification: A Simpler Wine Rating System

Grape Certified Lineup


One of our goals is to make (the business of understanding) wine ratings easier. What’s the real difference between a 96 point and 94 point wine? Is the difference between 89 points and 90 points that much? In light of this we’ve devised a simpler way to rate and understand wine ratings. We call it Grape Certification and it works like this:


Grape Certified Platinum: 5 Stars or 95+ points

Grape Certified Gold: 4 Stars or 90 – 94 points

Grape Certified Silver: 3 Stars or 85-89 points

Grape Certified Bronze: 2 Stars or 80-84 points


Simpler wine ratings leave you more time to enjoy (drinking) wine. Besides, think of the decision making time you’ll save choosing between two wines rated Grape Certified Gold versus two wines rated 91 & 94. Grape Certification frees you to focus on what’s most important to you, whether it’s a cool label, the varietal (the grape), the bottle price or the wine region. Place your vote for Grape Certification!

Now that you know what a wine score means along with the different types of scores you’ll be able to put those opinions of critics to the test by enjoying those wines yourself. Again, the scoring system is completely subjective to one person’s taste and yes you’ll still be taking a chance. The only difference, the chances of you enjoying the wine may be a little higher than if you were to randomly pick a bottle yourself. Some base their purchases off of certain wine critics scores while others consider the scores but choose to evaluate their purchases themselves. Regardless, the purpose of the scoring system is to help us pick and choose wines that we can enjoy, collect or invest in for a future date.


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