"Wine Lister" claims "new standard" in wine ratings -- debuts a 1,000 point scale!

Jason – thanks so much for your explanation. I suppose it all makes sense, even if it doesn’t make it particularly useful.

Not trying to be pedantic, nor am I trying to flog a dead horse, but there is a way in which points/medals ARE useful. (Well, OK, not the 1,000-point scale upon which this thread was started, but there’s been substantial thread drift since then . . . )

Yes, and as you now know, I think this is the absolute best way to buy wine. However, 1) you should never limit your self only to buying wine from one store (you never know when you might find a better store on the next block, nor can any one store carry every single wine); and 2) points/medals can be useful . . . if properly used and understood.

Again, nothing is better (IMHO) than listening to the advice of a knowledgeable wine merchant who has taken the time to know and understand your palate, your likes and dislikes. But it’s also good (and fun) to expand your horizons and try new things (again, IMHO). And this is where points and medals do can become useful.

Let’s do medals first; they’re easier. One Gold Medal, in and of itself is (IMHO – let’s face it, ALL this is simply my opinion; take as many grains of salt as you deem appropriate) meaningless. Generally it means that 3 or 4 judges agreed at such-and-such a date, at such-and-such a time, that Wine X deserved a Gold. But a different group of people may have judged the wine differently; indeed, the same group of people might have judged the wine differently at another date/time. When it comes to medals, what’s far more important is multiple medals. In other words, I’d rather try a wine that won (e.g.) 10 Silver Medals than a wine that won one Gold Medal, period. The weight of multiple medals and awards is a far better sign that Wine X might be worth a taste.

When it comes to points, two factors come into play. First of all, the number itself is meaningless; it’s the description of the wine that’s crucial. Unfortunately, far too often, one only knows a number and not the tasting note itself. For the description to be useful, the writer must be consistent. Parker is (was). Indeed he was the “poster child” of consistency, but he is not personally reviewing as many wines as he used to anymore. That said, even when he “panned” a wine with a, let’s say, 84-point score, depending upon the description, I would know that I personally would much prefer that wine over the wine that he rated a “96.” (Remember, the points were never meant YOU will like Wine A better than Wine B, only that the reviewer did.)

Other writers may or may not be as consistent. However, like medals, multiple high point scores from many different wine writers and publications, like multiple medals, are another indicator that “Wine X might be worth a taste.”

AGAIN, I’m not saying that – if you “hate” sweet White Zinfandel, for example, and a sweet White Zin gets 75 medals and/or six scores of 95+ points – you’re going to like it. But if you like, say, a particular style of Pinot Noir, and a Pinot Noir you’ve never heard of gets multiple medals and/or lots of high scores, and the description sounds interesting to you, it’s probably worth a shot.

Jason – I live in Pennsylvania. There’s NO such thing as a “better store on the next block.” While some state liquor stores carry a better selection than others, it’s been my experience that the state employees who staff these store are woefully uninformed. My favorite (Delaware) wine store notwithstanding, the next best shopping option for me is the supermarket-like Total Wine store, also in Delaware. There, the vast majority of wines have someone’s rating – these include ratings from Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator and “picks” from one of the store’s many employees. Again, there are so many high ratings and superior accolades that to me, they cancel themselves out.

I recently learned that a well-regarded wine importer lives but a stone’s throw from me and operates his business from there, but does not sell his wine locally; quite ironically, most of the wines he imports from small producers are not sold in PA. He has one store that carries all of his imports, but that’s in DC. And although there are many “boutique” retail stores that carry his wines, none is within a reasonable distance of where I live.

What I’m trying to say is that wine stores that can provide the selection and advice I’ve come to rely on are just not to be found around here – with the one exception I’ve mentioned.

To every rule, Cindy, there is an exception. Pennsylvania is it. That said, there’s more in Delaware than Moore Bros., and I suspect that – in theory, at least – you understand my point . . .

Oh, absolutely, Jason. When I’m in NYC, visiting my daughter, I almost always stop into Astor Wines, where I know I’ll end up with at least one mixed case of “adventure.” The first time I walked in, I must admit I was quite overwhelmed with the selection, but their sales staff is incredibly helpful, and after answering a few basic questions, I usually let them guide my purchases.

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Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal, Flickr