A New Blogger-Created System for Wine Ratings

There is something very interesting going on over at the new wine blog, Swirl & Sniff, that I mention in the post above.

They employ a 16 point rating system in which the Value, Color & Clarity, Bouquet and Flavor of a wine can be scored between 1 -4 points each. For example, their review of the Seresin Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is scored thusly:

Value: 3.5 Color & Clarity: 4.0 Bouquet: 3.5 Flavor: 3.5

The wine gets 14.5 points out of a possible 16. That’s pretty darn good.

The system is explained on Swirl & Sniff’s homepage.

There was a time when the 20 point scale for rating wines was in pretty wide use before the century system took over. When comparing wines, I still use the 20 point system. It’s efficient, easy to use and allows for the my own palate’s ability to discern differences between wines. But I’ve never seen 16 point system for rating wine. What’s interesting here is that each of the four categories that are ranked in the 16 point system are given the same weight. So in evaluating a wine, this blogger gives color and clarity the same critical weight as the flavor. I wouldn’t give the same weight to the wine’s color as I give the wine’s flavor. Why?

Take Pinot Noir for example. I’ve had dark/hefty opaque pinots and I’ve had light bodied medium density/clear pinots. Neither is more or less proper, but gives and indication of the style of pinot you are about to dip your nose and tongue into. The aroma and flavor will be more important to me.

And, the idea of "Value" being equal to aroma and flavor in evaluating a wine is another interesting idea. It makes much more sense to me than giving "Color and Clarity" equal weight. Everyone is looking for good value. In explaining the value concept, Swirl & Sniff Blogger writes:

Essentially a grade on whether or not a wine justifies its price. Wines with costs greater than $25-30/bottle tend to fare poorly on this site.

I think we can assume that the Swirl & Sniffer is evaluating "Value" outside the context of the market and only on the relationship between their perceived quality of the wine and its cost as these relate to other wines they’ve tried and ranked.

OK. I’ll buy that. That’s a rational way to go. But I think it’s equally rational to take into account the market when assigning a ranking to the wine’s value. The fact is, some types of wine are so coveted for their quality and for what they represent that they demand a higher price. For example, Grand Cru Puligny Montrachet is a wine you will rarely find under $30. It often costs a lot more, particularly the great ones. Were you to find a Grand Cru Puligny Montrachet for $45 and it’s likely it would be a pretty darn good value. You can say the same about many Napa Cabs, Bordeaux and Aussi Reds.

Nevertheless, Swirl & Sniff has some pretty interesting stuff going on over there. I like the blog and will read it regularly.

Posted In: Rating Wine


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