The 100 Point Wine Rating Scale Works
For some time now I’ve lived in the camp that argues the 100 Point wine rating scale is non-sensical, reductive and counter productive. I think I’m changing teams. And here’s why:
Wine Drinkers Like it.
No, it hasn’t taken me 20 years to realize this. I’ve know this all along. So does everybody else. It’s just that recently I’ve come to have a greater appreciation for giving people what they want, rather than trying to give them what I think they need.
There’s no doubt that the 100 Point rating scale is non-sensical (there’s not difference between a 91 point wine and a 92 point wine that anyone can identify), reductive (it diminishes in monumental ways the nature of the product being reviewed—even if the rating is accompanied by 75 words), and it’s counter productive (particularly if the goal is to explain what makes this wine different from that wine). But damn it, they like it.
What I’ve come to appreciate is that wine, at least the way wine is presented in the market place, is a pretty complex thing. We aren’t talking soap here. Consumers can look at the 10 or 15 kinds of soap flavors and understand right off the bat if they want to smear lavender, sandalwood or lemon verbena on their body. But with with wine the are confronted not just with numerous varietals, but also different vintages, appellations, vineyard designations and even special designations. It’s complex.
Now add to this complexity that very few people who actually like the taste of wine have really any idea what these different factors that go into defining a wine actually mean.
Add to this the pressure to serve or present a wine that’s not crap.
If only these consumers had a quick way of going through the 1000s of wines at their disposal and finding one an expert deems just fine, or really good, or great, and not having to learn a new language or take classes to appreciate what the expert is trying to say.
Voila…The 100 Point Rating Scale.
This form of ranking and rating wines is so convenient and so perfectly matches the needs of most wine consumers that to ignore its utility is to dismiss the needs of the customer.
It’s quite possible that the 100-point wine rating scale is among the most important advances in wine marketing in the last 100 years. It’s because it works.