WINE SPECTATOR TASTING PROCEDURES
Wine Spectator editors review more than 15,000 wines each year in blind tastings. Every issue of Wine Spectator magazine contains 400 to 1,000 wine reviews with detailed tasting notes and drink recommendations. We set stringent standards for ourselves and rely on the proven ability and experience of our editors as tasters and critics. (Read our Statement of Ethics.) Below are the guidelines we follow in order to maintain the integrity of our tastings.
Why We Taste Blind: A Letter from Marvin R. Shanken and Thomas Matthews
What do we review each year?
Each year, more than 15,000 wines from around the world are blind-tasted by our editors. The majority of these reviews are published in issues throughout the year, in the Buying Guide section of the magazine. Additional reviews are posted exclusively on our website. Wine Spectator primarily serves a national audience, and we therefore prefer to review wines that are widely available.
Where do the wines we review come from?
The majority of the wines we taste are submitted to us by the wineries or their U.S. importers. Additionally, we spend thousands of dollars each year to buy wines that are not submitted, at all price levels.
Where do we review the wines?
Tastings take place in our offices in Napa and New York, and in the vineyard regions of Europe. Each office has dedicated tasting rooms and staff to coordinate the tastings. The European tastings are organized and conducted at independent sites by Wine Spectator staff.
Who reviews wines for the magazine?
Each editor generally covers the same wine regions from year to year. These "beats" remain constant, allowing each lead taster to develop expertise in the region's wines. Other tasters may sit in on blind tastings in order to help confirm impressions. However, the lead taster always has the final say on the wine's rating and description. A taster's initials at the end of the tasting note indicate that the rating and review were created by that taster in one of our blind tastings. Wines that do not include initials at the end of the tasting note are wines that were reviewed by two or more tasters. These tastings are conducted in the same blind setting and are monitored and guided by the lead taster for that region.
While the vast majority of our wine reviews originate from blind tastings-in private, under controlled conditions-and result in official scores, as described above and on our Tasting Format page, we occasionally review wines in other formats.
THE WINE ADVOCATE RATING SYSTEM
Robert Parker's rating system employs a 50-100 point quality scale (Parker Points®). It is my belief that the various twenty (20) point rating systems do not provide enough flexibility and often result in compressed and inflated wine ratings. The Wine Advocate takes a hard, very critical look at wine, since I would prefer to underestimate the wine's quality than to overestimate it. The numerical ratings are utilized only to enhance and complement the thorough tasting notes, which are my primary means of communicating my judgments to you.
An extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine of its variety. Wines of this caliber are worth a special effort to find, purchase, and consume.
90 - 95:
An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines.
80 - 89:
A barely above average to very good wine displaying various degrees of finesse and flavor as well as character with no noticeable flaws.
70 - 79:
An average wine with little distinction except that it is a soundly made. In essence, a straightforward, innocuous wine.
60 - 69
A below average wine containing noticeable deficiencies, such as excessive acidity and/or tannin, an absence of flavor, or possibly dirty aromas or flavors.
A wine deemed to be unacceptable. Scores in parentheses indicate that the wine was tasted from barrel.