I know that for some people medals and ratings influence their decision about the wine they are going to buy. For others, they are just numbers. What do wine ratings actually mean? How are they translated? Is it right to only buy wines that score 90 pts or more (as many do)? I will try to answer these and other questions below. Let's go!
First, I will state the obvious, that ratings are a simple and direct way for critics to communicate their opinion on each wine. On the other hand, the 100 point system was established by Robert Parker and the Wine Advocate. The system is based on the American high school grading system, so the scale starts from 50 (rather than 0), which may be confusing to some. Nevertheless, the 100-point scale is used by more and more critics – amateurs and professionals. The scale is divided into subcategories, each of them corresponds to an explanation-characteristic for the wine. The categories are:
95-100 Classic: a great wine
90-94 Excellent: a wine of superior character and style
85-89 Very good: a wine with special characteristics
80-84 Good: a well-made wine
75-79 Moderate: drinkable wine but may have minor flaws
50-74: Not recommended
In competitions, medals have a similar logic. For example, in Thessaloniki International Wine and Spirits
Competition, the medal scale is as follows:
What does all this mean? A wine of 85 points or more is a wine that is pleasant to drink even if it is not a monster of concentration and complexity. Is it worth buying? In my humble opinion, if a wine has 85-86 points and a normal price (ideally around 10 euros or below) I see no reason not to include this wine in the everyday table, if of course the content is of my taste. I emphasize this because I have also drunk wines with 90+ points that were not to my taste. It makes a very big difference if a wine is objectively good but does not suit one's subjective taste because, for example, one does not like acidity or high alcohol. Now, wines that can have a good price (up to 15 euros) and are in the range of 88-89 points are what we call a bargain! Those are the wines that we drink again and again and we keep them for dinner with friends (me at least). From 90 points or more, the price starts to lose a bit of its importance and we mainly talk about what wine one wants to drink and how much money wants to pay. Οptions are too many. The wines that get 90 points and are under 20 euros (or slightly higher) are the ones that have a very good value for money ratio and from what we see on the site, the wines customers buy again and again.
But I'm going to play devil's advocate and I will say the following. There are amazing wines, Greek or not, that they don’t have any rating or medal. Does that mean it's not good? Not at all! Quite a few winemakers decide not to send their wines to competitions and critics, for various reasons, such as financial or because their production is already extremely small and they could not support a possible increase in sales that a distinction would bring. I'm not innocent, clearly there may be other more… strange reasons but I choose to be benevolent.
What is the conclusion? It is good for someone to taste the wines without predisposition and to decide for himself whether the wines are good for him or not. On the other hand, it is good to have competitions and to reward effort and good work. Along with the competitions or reviews, emerge wines from small or unknown producers and from rare varieties that we might not otherwise think of trying.