Wine Rating System

Let’s talk about our wine rating system. At first we liked reporting what the average Vivino rating was for an individual wine to provide a better idea of what the wine-population thought of a wine. We progressed to want to provide our rating of the wine. As you likely already realized, people interpret wines differently which ultimately means it’s truly up to the individual to decide what they think of a wine. We also felt that having a 5 point rating scale somewhat limited our ability to differentiate between wines. Let us demonstrate:

– We really like wine A and think it deserves a rating of 4.5
– Wine B is not great, but definitely not bad, we give it a rating of 3.5
– Wine C is not quite as good as wine A but definitely better than Wine B, easy 4 on the rating scale
– Wine D, better than C but not as good as A, so it falls between 4 and 4.5

Sure we could give it a rating of 4.2 or 4.3 but that makes life complicated. Wine isn’t supposed to be complicated, just something to be enjoyed, discussed, and consumed. We tried the 100 point scale, but that became challenging because there was no objective method to truly differentiate the wines and also lead to many wines falling into the same rating 90-93.

Thus we came across the following 10-point rating scale that was both fun and helpful:

0 – Samson Oliver wouldn’t even pee on this wine
1 – You have to pay me to drink
2 – Give to friends – that you don’t like
3 – Not good alone (but not worth throwing away) – use in sangria, mulled wine, etc
4 – Meh, you’ll drink it if you have to or bring as a gift because you don’t want to use your supply
5 – Every day wine – always have on hand for whenever you need
6 – Good wine – weekend wine
7 – Great – fine dinner wine – slightly overpriced
8 – Excellent – special occasion – share with (good) wine friends – great value
9 – Incredible – anniversary wine
10 – Life changing – I can now die happy – better than sex wine (joking)????

However, we didn’t want to stop there. As you may know, or experienced, there are inexpensive wines that would rate 7 or higher on our scale with an equal distribution of wines that are expensive that, well may not fall into the Samson Oliver discussion, but certainly don’t speak to your palate. Within one of my wine education book it was simply put: “Is a $100 bottle of wine better than a $10 bottle of wine?” Quite simply yes, maybe not for the reasons you care about but the wine is of better quality, likely due to source of grapes, wine making techniques, reputation of producer, etc. More importantly, is the more expensive bottle of wine 10x better than the cheaper, in almost all cases NO!! Thus, I believe price is an integral factor in developing a wine rating system; and this price integration should be an individual decision – nothing that we can mandate for you.

For the purpose of our system (and demonstration purposes) we have developed a $20 increment pricing guide:

Wine Pricing Pyramid


1) Because multiples of 20 is simple
2) Seemed logical

As you can see from the pyramid, the space associated with the <$20 area is significantly more than the area associated with the >$100 area. Utilizing this mentality with respect to wine, there are going to be far more bottles of <$20 wine as compared to >$100. Unfortunately, just pricing a wine within the $60, 80 or >100 category doesn’t mean that you will like it any more than a <$20 or $40 bottle of wine.

Therefore, we advocate combining the two systems into one to better evaluate wine. Now we can put together our wine rating scale. Using the first 10 wines we analyzed on Reds or Whites we come up with the following chart (with cost on the x-axis and rating on the y-axis)

You can see from our plot that may of the wines have a rating above 5, with 60% being less than $50. What does this mean??

Value means something different for everyone. Our goal with this is to find great wines for reasonable prices. If however, we still think the wines are great we are willing to pay a bit extra (how much is up to you). What we want to avoid is wines that don’t taste good to our palate but still offer a hefty price tag.

Lets take it to our final step, where we have added lines to distinguish our cost threshold and rating threshold. Wines with a rank of 5 or greater we felt compelled to consider while ideally we want to spend less then $50 for wines. Using this we have created 4-separate areas, loosely labeled “A”, “B”, “C”, “D”:

Defining the Areas
• A – Good wine with Great Value
• B – Good wine but Expensive
• C – Bad wine ……
• D – Bad wine and Expensive
Understandably, our ideal wine would fall into “A” we would accept wines in “B” and absolutely try to avoid in “D” as they are both bad and expensive – a losing combination!!

There is no “wrong” rating system – the goal of our rating system was to incorporate not only quality of wine but cost as well. Reverting back to an original statement – while $100 bottle of wine is likely of higher quality than a $10 bottle, it does not mean that it is 10x better wine. Therefore, let’s go find value in our wine and get those wines in area “A” while avoiding the “D” wines!!!

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