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Aug 13, 2006 07:04 PM

Parker "100 point system" for wine ratings

I'm not sure many consumers know it's actually a 50-point scale, from 50 to 100.

50 existence
5 color and appearance
15 aroma and bouquet
20 flavor and finish
10 overall quality level and/or potential for improvement

A glass of dishwater would get at least 50 points.

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  1. The problem I have with Parker and his ilk is that people buy into the reviews so completely. The reviews are subjective and tilted towards very ripe, heavily extracted, heavily oaked wines that make a huge impact on the palate. Wineries often make better wines that don't get the reviews. The other issue is that the wine industry has bought into it and wines are being made to please the critics - they all start tasting the same, a big blast of oak with big jammy fruit to compete with the barrel.

    I have more respect for somebody that knows what they like even if it's Gallo Hearty Burgundy or white zin, than somebody who won't buy a wine that doesn't get 90+ from Parker

    1. I think Parker is probably more believable than the Wine Spectator. In fact, I recently dropped my subscription to it. I guess there is a place for ratings but like Calamityville, I think it's important to find what YOU like.

      Living here, I find it far more fun to go taste wines and find what I like without even looking at ratings and that's exactly what we do. I also find that many of the smaller winieries who so not submit their wines and not care about ratings produce outstanding, well crafted wines.

      The other recent trend seems to be high alcohol wines which any many cases are far to "hot" for enjoyable drinking.

      2 Replies
      1. re: rtmonty

        I couldn't agree more about WS. As an Oregonian I am lucky to be close to some fabulous Pinot and to try a lot of it, but I've noticed that WS seems to only give good reviews to the most extracted, new-oak aged pinot they can get from OR. It's disappointing that they can't seem to like something that's a bit subtle.

        1. re: nagrom

          For the most reliable/valid rankings and tasting notes on Oregon Pinots, Stephen Tanzer is your guy. That from the mouths of Oregon winemakers.....

      2. Going by Robert Parker's rating system without reading his notes, is like reading the title of a book without reading the book, you miss 99% of the info. His notes are what make him the best wine critic out there.

        3 Replies
        1. re: byrd

          I guess one could consider Parker the best if one's palate is on the same wavelength as his. Mine isn't. I have little or no use for gobby, high-alcohol, low-acid, oaky wines. IMO, this style of wine is not food-friendly.

          Where he is useful is that he's consistent. If you know how to read his notes, you know what wines to seek or avoid. When the words 'gobs' or 'unctious' are in one of his notes, I go running the other way.

          1. re: Larry Stein

            I've liked some of the rieslings he's rated highly.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Parker doesn't rate German wine. Until recently, it was Rovani (whose palate appears to be similar to Parker's). A few months ago, they hired David Schildknecht away from Steve Tanzer. Schildknecht really knows his stuff when it comes to Austria and Germany.

        2. I think there is a certain truth to this scale. Almost every wine I've ever had (with a few memorable exceptions) is drinkable. I suspect even mediocre supermarket plonk is better than the wine that almost anyone had to drink a couple of hundred years ago. And almost all wine is generally good.

          The corollary of this 100 point scale is the realization that people often pay a lot of money for a wine that is only 4% better than another similar wine. I honestly don't think my palate is exquisite or sensitive enough to taste the difference between an 88 and a 92 - particularly in the context of wine shared with friends during a meal.


          1 Reply
          1. re: Phoo D

            A certain percentage of wine I buy is undrinkable as in spoiled and I return it.

            Beyond that, I've bought a lot of wine that was not spoiled but was to my taste undrinkable, as in I poured it down the sink and opened another bottle.

          2. hello, caitlin m. kindly just linked to this board the NY Times article critiquing the wine mags, and there were two factors, not dealing with palate acuteness/memory or taste preferences, that set Parker apart from many of the others. The absence of advertising in the WA, and that the tasting is done blind. We can always calibrate our own palates with those of published critics if we do our own critical tasting; at the same time, there's a segment of consumers(incl. many who speculate on expensive bottles never intending to drink them) whose perceptions are biased by what some authority figure has said or written. cheers

            4 Replies
            1. re: moto

              To my knowledge, Parker does NOT taste blind.

              1. re: Tom Hall

                sorry, acc. to the NY Times piece, Parker brown-bags what he's tasting. Don't doubt that you've tasted w. him and know better. BTW to the other poster, WA==Wine Advocate, Parker's publication, which as others have noted, does include a few other reviewers at present, whereas it originally was a one-palate show. cheers

                1. re: moto

                  Yeah, he does generally brown bag them. But it is still only a single blind tasting. To me any taster/critic looking for credibility should have to taste wines "double blind"

                  For those who don't know the difference, A single blind tasting involves getting a clue about the wines, such as here are 15 Oregon Pinot's or 20 New Zealand Whites, or a selection of Penfolds wines. Or sometimes all the info about the wines are disclosed but not told to the taster which is which.

                  I swear to god, this is how the WS is able to give Yellow Tail retarded scores in the mid-high 80's. What does someone come in with the brown bags and go "Ok gents, today we are tasting 10 Vintage Champagnes and oh yeah, the lates releases from Yellow Tail... the ones that spend all that ad money.

                  Double Blind on the other hand gives you little to no info. The info might be as much as Chardonnay's from Around the World or Dessert Wines - 1998 Vintage, etc.

                  1. re: newJJD

                    Nope. The real story is that winemakers tailor their wines to please Parker's palate.

                    A score of 80 to 89 is "a barely above average to very good wine displaying various degrees of finesse and flavor as well as character with no noticeable flaws." So a score in the mid-80s is nothing special.

                    That's the big problem with the point scale: scores below the mid 80s indicate mediocre to bad wine, and only excellent wines get 90 or more.

                    So almost all good, reasonably priced wines are squeezed into the mid to high 80s, which covers an enormous range of quality.