What's Up with Wine Ratings?
Why they don't mean as much as you think
I’ve been thinking about writing up my thoughts on this issue for some time, but I had always thought it was just too simple an issue; something that might be summed up in a few sentences, but perhaps I was wrong.
The issue of course is wine ratings — we hate them and we love them, but are they really worth anything? It would be sad to realize that something so many people become emotionally invested in is actually not worth the effort, but to a large extent that is what I believe.
Before going any further, let me just say that I use the 100 point scale, or about 30 points of it, when I rate wines and I find that it is a useful way to gauge how much I like one wine versus another wine of similar type. I don’t believe it is some absolute scale, and have always felt that its accuracy was something better than plus or minus five points. That is, my 90-point wine could be your 85-point wine or your 95-point wine. Now, considering that most people use about 20 points of the 100 point scale, scoring wines between 80 and 100 points, that also means that they are not of much worth, and that my friends is entirely true.
In the abstract they are generally worthless. You can have two 90-point wines that are qualitatively equivalent, but so completely different as to make their equivalency useless. And you can also have two tasters, each with a different palate, assign points scores that are so divergent that you really have to ask who has lost their mind. Might it be us, those of us who use point scores to begin with? Maybe we have lost a bit of our minds.
— Gregory Del Piaz, Snooth