Our judging panel working hard at the National Wine Centre
how do we rate and taste?
Australian Wine Showcase Magazine tastings provide an independent review of wines currently available or ready to become available in the USA, UK/ Europe and Asian Markets.
Wine is very different from any run-of-the-mill consumer product. There are not many consumer products that are rated and reviewed as extensively as wine. The only three that come to mind that are similar to wine are music, movies, and food. All of these clearly fall into the ‘subjective’ category and their enjoyment is truly personal.
Wine critics will admit that wine is a subjective experience. The 100 point system makes sense from a scoring point of view. Most consumers will not be able to pick the difference in 2 or 3 percentage points but will give the wine buyer an accurate bench mark to make selections from with other factors such as price point. Several writers use stars or symbols, many score out of five. The Australian show circuit uses the 20 point system and award Gold, Silver or Bronze medals. There is no real right or wrong way to score. The true purpose of a score is for the reader to gauge a professional critic’s overall qualitative placement of a wine.
We have chosen to use the 100 point system that the American critic Robert Parker has used for many years because our research has found that many overseas buyers prefer this point system and we prefer to give them the tools that they like to use.
It is also important to consider the description of the wine’s style, personality, and potential. No scoring system is perfect, but a system that provides for flexibility in scores, if applied by the same taster without prejudice, can quantify different levels of wine quality and provide the wine buyer with a professional judgment.
The Judging & Scoring System
Our judging panels will sip, swirl, taste and spit under blind tasting conditions so there can be no biases. A blind tasting simply means that the judges don’t know what wines they are tasting, the flight of glasses are placed on the individual judges tables and each of the glasses simply have a number on them and the bottles are out of sight.
We use three judges for each flight, plus a chairperson, all with experience in wine and known for their good palates. The final rating is the average score of the three judges. We ensure the wines are tasted at the correct temperature and environment and clean glasses. In terms of awarding points, the 100 point scoring system gives every wine a base of 50 points.
The wine’s general colour and appearance merit up to 5 points. Since most wines today are well made, thanks to modern technology and the increased use of professional oenologists, they tend to receive at least 4, often 5 points. The aroma and bouquet merit up to 15 points, depending on the intensity level and dimension of the aroma and bouquet as well as the cleanliness of the wine. The flavour and finish merit up to 20 points, and again, intensity of flavours, balance, cleanliness, and depth and length on the palate are all important considerations when giving out points.
Finally, the overall quality level or potential for further evolution and improvement—aging—merits up to 10 points.
A more detailed description
90-100 is equivalent to an A and is given only for an outstanding or special effort. Wines in this category are the very best produced of their type.
There is a big difference between a 90 and 99, but both are top marks.
80-89 is equivalent to a B in school and such a wine, particularly in the 85-89 range, is very, very good; many of the wines that fall into this range often are great value as well.
70-79 represents a C, or average mark, but obviously 79 is a much more desirable score than 70. Wines that receive scores between 75 and 79 are generally pleasant, straightforward wines that lack complexity, character, or depth. If inexpensive, they may be ideal for uncritical quaffing.
Below 70 is a D or F, depending on where you went to school. For wine, it is a sign of an imbalanced, flawed, or terribly dull or diluted product that will be of little interest to the discriminating consumer.