My Response to a Former Reader

Dear Tom…I read your rant supporting wine scores. This has to be the most dundleheaded opinion I’ve ever seen. How can you justify using wine ratings to market wine when we know that the 100 point rating scale is a fraud. These “critics” who use the 100 point scale want to be seen to be objective and use 100 points to try to be seen as objective. And you know (so do they) that you can’t ever justify the difference between 92 and 91. The scoring of wine has made wine drinkers and others in this industry really dumb drinkers and really dumb sellers. It’s how we got all these Napa wines that are big, boring fruit bombs. I’m ashamed of you and anyone else who uses the 100 point scale or supports it. I’m done reading you.

The author of this email (who was anonymous—Why?) gets points for the use of a word I’ve never heard before yet I understand intuitively: “Dunndleheaded”. Well done, Mr/s Anonymous.

However, he loses points for completely misunderstanding what the 100 point rating scale is and what it does. The writer will be happy to see that I’m going to explain it to them.

First, in order to judge one wine better than another, it is true that the judge must first embrace an ideal of wine pleasure or wine deliciousness or potential wine pleasure or potential wine deliciousness. One cannot make an aesthetic judgment without an ideal in their head.

The 100 point ranking is the judge’s (or critic’s) very specific assessment of how close a wine got to their ideal. 

There it is. That’s it. Moreover, it’s an entirely justified way for a critic to express their opinion on just how delicious or pleasurable or potentially pleasurable a wine is or will be. The number is not the result of a strict formula. It’s not the result of a calculation. It’s an adjective.

Finally, if someone wants to make the case that a critic that uses the 100 point rating system is unlikely to give the same wine tasted blind the same score when tasted blind the next time, I’d only suggest that the critic that only describes a wine with words is unlikely to use the same words the next time they taste a wine.

I’m unaware of any writer who does not accept the idea that different people may have different tastes in wine. Nor am I aware of a critic who states that their opinion of the quality or pleasurableness of a wine is the only opinion possible. I’ve never come across this kind of writer or critic because most critics are not dundleheads.

So, Mr/s Dundlhead, I’m bummed you won’t be reading me any longer as I’m always open to learning new, useful words.


Posted In: Rating Wine


8 Responses

  1. Jim Ruxin - September 19, 2019

    Sounds like another paranoid Trump supporter…all knee-jerk reactions based on the real fake news. PIzzagate anyone?

  2. Jim Bernau - September 19, 2019

    Have witnessed very serious efforts at scoring. Whether producers like them or not, many customers do.

  3. Tom Elliot - September 19, 2019

    I’ve often wondered why only wine (as far as I know) is rated on a 100 point scale, when theoretically, just about anything else could also be. I presume there must be a few/several exceptions that I’m not aware of, but am curious to hear if anyone has any insights on this.

  4. Richard Hart - September 19, 2019

    Think maybe s/he meant dunderhead?

  5. Tom Wark - September 19, 2019


    Yes, I think that’s what they wanted to write. But I still like dundleheaded better.

  6. Paco - September 20, 2019

    Tom – I think Jim R. just proved your point. Not to get political (too late) but when I read his comment I immediately thought that’s just the opposite of what a Trump supporter would think. From my perspective, it’s the anti-Trump people who seem to have lost all objectivity. I suppose it’s based on a person’s ideal of what government should and shouldn’t be doing.

  7. Charlie olken - September 21, 2019


    Might I gently point you to Consumer Reports—the most widely respected product evaluator in the world. It has millions of subscribers—far more than any wine mag and maybe more than all of them combined. CR rates everything from soup to computers on a 100 point scale.

    How about movies? Rotten Tomatoes rates them all on a 0-100 numerical system. Parker did not invent the 100 scale. I believe it was my elementary school.

  8. Charlie olken - September 21, 2019

    Last comment directed to Tom Elliot, not T. Wark.

    Mr. Wark, you are too kind to Mr. Anonymous.

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