Last Updated: 11 May 2020

Walk down a wine aisle at any store and you are pretty much guaranteed to see wine ratings.  It’s a badge of honor for the winery (since only the good scores get publicized), and it’s a great marketing tool for the retailer.  It can also be helpful to the wine novice looking for a bottle to impress their friends (yes, we’ve all done it!).  While this blog WILL NOT get into the weeds on how to use critic scores to help find a good deal (for that, check out What Makes a Good Online Wine Deal), it WILL give you a fairly exhaustive list of those two- and three- letter abbreviations you see next to a score to better understand the wine critic.  Where the wine critic’s rating scale has been made public, we included that as well.  So, this is a great blog to bookmark and search next time you’re in a wine aisle or searching online and want a quick-and-dirty explanation of what a specific critic (and score) means.  And, we’ve made it easy by listing the abbreviations in alphabetical order.  This post is also a good stepping stone to figure out which critic or critics match your palate.  Trust us, relying on scores from someone with a similar palate to you makes purchasing (and life!) SO MUCH easier.  Happy hunting!

BC – Bob Campbell MW

Bob Campbell is a Master of Wine (there are only a few hundred in the world holding this title!).  He founded The Wine Gallery, an Auckland based wine school, in 1990 and is widely regarded as New Zealand’s foremost wine educator.  He specializes in wines from New Zealand and Australia, but his tasting notes (and scores) extended much broader.  Bob Campbell (and Huan Hooke) created The Real Review Alliance in an effort to harmonize critic ratings in New Zealand and Australia.  A few fun facts on Bob Campbell’s scores (as of writing this blog!):  (1) He has never rated a wine 100 points and (2) 84 points is his default score for wines that do not make the cut; he does not record a “scale of badness”.  The Real Review Alliance scoring system is below. 

95-100 These wines are in the big league. They are truly excellent wines which are fully representative of their region, variety and maker; wines of pedigree, great balance and harmony.  They sing with a kind of rightness; an effortlessness; a natural symmetry.  Over 95 points, they are the best of their breed, with great distinction, a certain thrill factor – and sometimes even uniqueness.
90-94 The 90-point threshold is an important one, both psychologically and practically.  90 points is a silver medal in many wine competitions, and that indicates a very high quality wine. Aside from technical quality, it will possess character, balance and that hard-to-define element, style.  And also textural refinement, as opposed to coarseness.
85-89 Good to very good, serviceable, fault-free wines for everyday drinking.  Some of these will also be cellarable.  The best of them are almost silver-medal quality.  Even an 85-point wine can be very good value depending on its price.
1-84
NR (Not Rated) The initials NR instead of a score usually indicate there was something wrong with the bottle sampled.  The usual fault is cork-derived taint or random oxidation (also thought to be due to faulty cork).  If there is any such suspicion about a wine, it is usually not rated. A back-up bottle is tasted if available.  If impressions are below expectation, knowing that the wine was liked on a different occasion, or the wine is from a producer whose wines are normally rated highly, that bottle may also not be rated.  An attempt is usually made to taste another bottle, impressions of that bottle recorded at a later date.

BH – Allen Meadows, Burghound

American finance executive turned wine critic, Allen Meadows founded Burghound in 2000, a quarterly review dedicated to Burgundy and Pinot Noir with rotating coverage of Champagnes and other sparkling wines. Fun fact about Allen Meadows:  If he rated it, it is in the database.  He firmly believes that it is important that readers know which wines to avoid as well as which wines merit your attention.  His rating system below makes this clear.

95-100 Truly incomparable and emotionally thrilling. A wine so rated is as good as Burgundy gets. By definition, it is reference standard for its appellation.
90-94 Outstanding.  Worth a special effort to purchase and cellar and will provide memorable drinking experiences.
85-89 Good to high quality.  Burgundies that offer solid quality in every respect and generally very good typicity.  “Good Value” wines will often fall into this category.  Worth your attention.
80-84 Average to good quality.  The wine is “correct,” displays no noticeable flaws and will provide pleasing, if straightforward, drinking.
75-79 Barely acceptable quality.  The wine is not worth your attention nor is it good value.
Below 75 Don’t bother.  A wine with noticeable, irremediable flaws.

CG – Connoisseurs’ Guide

The GUIDE is written by Publisher/Editor Charles Olken in collaboration with Associate Editor Stephen Eliot.  Founded in 1974, it focuses exclusively on California wines.  All reviews are blind-tested and wines are purchased from independent retailers in the San Francisco area rather than received through submissions from producers.  Every wine reviewed is scored and published.  Fun fact:  The GUIDE does not give 99 or 100-point ratings and rarely gives out 98 points.

95-98 Wines of the highest quality.
91-94 Excellent wines.
87-90 Fully recommended wines.
80-86 From ordinary to good.
Below 80 Wines to avoid.

CK – Chris Kissack, thewinedoctor.com

Winedoctor was started in 2000 by UK-based Chris Kissack and focuses on Bordeaux and the Loire Valley.  He is a Louis Roederer Wine Writing Awards Shortlistee and a Born Digital 2012 Award Runner-Up.  He is known for his amazingly thorough notes from the latest Bordeaux En Primeur tastings and all the top Loire releases.  Since we could not locate a publicly-available rating scale for Winedoctor or Chris Kissack, here is a self-made description of Chris Kissack’s wine style from the Winedoctor website: 

I avoid hyperbole and the slew of perfect scores that seems de rigueur in wine reports these days. My palate favours purity and precision, and seeks out wines that feel energetic and alive in the mouth. I adore moreishness, and freshness. I find wines that are leaden and dull, dominated by over-extracted tannin and raisined fruit, which try to win over the palate with blunt force, to be wearisome. I look for beauty and charm in wine.

I’m determined to seek out value estates, especially in Bordeaux. Although I deal with the big names in detail, I also look to the little guys turning out great wines at great price points; cru bourgeois estates on the left bank, and lesser-known names in CastillonMontagne-St-Emilion and Fronsac get a look in.

D – Decanter Magazine

Founded in 1975 in London, Decanter Magazine is the oldest consumer-facing wine publication in the UK and focuses on wine available in the UK and US markets.  In 2004, Decanter started the Decanter World Wine Awards, which has grown to become the world’s biggest wine competition with over 15,000 entries per year.  The competition awards medals and trophies, but more important for us, wine scores!  Results are published on Decanter’s website and in Decanter’s August print edition.

In June 2012, Decanter switched from the 20-point rating scale to the 100-point scale.  In order to help consumers understand how a 15-point wine rated on its new 100-point scale, and how a 92-point wine compared to a wine on the old scale, they created the handy-dandy conversion chart below.  The column entitled “Medals” refers to the rating needed to wine at the Decanter World Wine Awards.  Platinum (or “best in class”) awardees are then selected among their gold peers in a given category.

Star Rating 100 Points Medals 20 Points
Exceptional 100 Gold 20
Exceptional 99 Gold 19.75
Exceptional 98 Gold 19.5
Outstanding 97 Gold 19.25
Outstanding 96 Gold 19
Outstanding 95 Gold 18.5/18.75
Highly Recommended 94 Silver 18.25
Highly Recommended 93 Silver 18
Highly Recommended 92 Silver 17.75
Highly Recommended 91 Silver 17.5
Highly Recommended 90 Silver 17/17.25
Recommended 89 Bronze 16.75
Recommended 88 Bronze 16.5
Recommended 87 Bronze 16.25
Recommended 86 Bronze 16
Commended 85 Commended 15.5/15.75
Commended 84 Commended 15.25
Commended 83 Commended 15
Fair 82 14.75
Fair 81 14.5
Fair 80 14/14.25
Fair 79 13.75
Fair 78 13.5
Fair 77 13.25
Fair 76 13
Poor 75 12.5/12.75
Poor 74 12.25
Poor 73 12
Poor 72 11.75
Poor 71 11.5
Poor 70 11/11.25
Faulty Below 70 Below 11

GR – Gambero Rosso

Gambero Rosso is an Italian food and wine publishing group founded in 1986.  Its name translates to “Red Prawn”, the namesake of a tavern in the Pinocchio.  The Gambero Rosso wine ratings are published in the annual wine guide, Vini d’Italia, and are based on the number of glasses awarded to a wine, which is indicated in the guide by stylized glasses next to the wine’s name.  The highest rating is three glasses and the wine guide only includes “above average” wines.  Previous editions of the guide used three white glasses rating “Excellent”, “Very Good” and “Above Average”, respectively.  Current editions use the four-tiered glass system below.  All ratings are based upon blind tasting by independent experts and focus on Italian wines.

3 Glasses Excellent wines in their respective categories.
2 Glasses (Red) Very good to excellent wines that went forward to the final tastings.
2 Glasses (Black) Very good to excellent wines in their respective categories.
1 Glass Moderately good wines in their respective categories.

GWS – Global Wine Score

The Global Wine Score is an adjusted score aggregating the opinions of major wine critics from around the world. Their proprietary algorithm takes into account each critic’s scoring habits and their grading scales to provide a single indicator to help minimize a specific critic’s subjectivity.  Some critic scores included (when available) are:  Allen Meadows’ Burghound (BH), Chris Kissack’s Wine Doctor (CK), Decanter (D), Jeb Dunnuck (JD), James Suckling (JS), Matthew Jukes (MJ), Robert Parker (RP), Tim Atkin (TA), Wine Enthusiast (WE), Wine Spectator (WS), and others.  A more detailed explanation of this unique approach can be found here.  The Global Wine Score uses a 100-point scale.

HH – Huon Hooke

Huan Hook is an Australian wine writer and critic who started his career in 1983.  He is known for his reviews in the Gourmet Traveller wine magazine and his weekly wine section in the Sydney Morning Herald.  In 2016, Huan Hooke (and Bob Campbell MW) created The Real Review Alliance in an effort to harmonize critic ratings in New Zealand and Australia.  The Real Review Alliance scoring system is below.  A few fun facts about Huan Hooke:  (1) He is an outspoken critic of wine reviewers who produce, distribute, or retail wine since he believes it is a conflict of interest; (2) he never rates barrel tastings; and (3) the initials “NR” usually indicate there was something wrong with the bottle sampled but can also mean that his impressions were below expectation, knowing he liked the wine on a different occasion or usually rates the producer highly.  In these instances, he’ll usually taste another bottle later and record his impressions then. 

95-100 These wines are in the big league.  They are truly excellent wines which are fully representative of their region, variety and maker; wines of pedigree, great balance and harmony.  They sing with a kind of rightness; an effortlessness; a natural symmetry.  Over 95 points, they are the best of their breed, with great distinction, a certain thrill factor – and sometimes even uniqueness.
90-94 The 90-point threshold is an important one, both psychologically and practically.  90 points is a silver medal in many wine competitions, and that indicates a very high quality wine.  Aside from technical quality, it will possess character, balance and that hard-to-define element, style.  And also textural refinement, as opposed to coarseness.
85-89 Good to very good, serviceable, fault-free wines for everyday drinking.  Some of these will also be cellarable.  The best of them are almost silver-medal quality.  Even an 85-point wine can be very good value depending on its price.
1-84
NR (Not Rated) The initials NR instead of a score usually indicate there was something wrong with the bottle sampled.  The usual fault is cork-derived taint or random oxidation (also thought to be due to faulty cork).  If there is any such suspicion about a wine, it is usually not rated.  A back-up bottle is tasted if available.  If impressions are below expectation, knowing that the wine was liked on a different occasion, or the wine is from a producer whose wines are normally rated highly, that bottle may also not be rated.  An attempt is usually made to taste another bottle, impressions of that bottle recorded at a later date.

JCL – Jeannie Cho Lee

Jeannie Cho Lee is a Hong Kong-based, Korean-American wine critic, author, journalist, consultant, wine educator, professor, TV host, and Master of Wine.  She is the first ethnic Asian to achieve the Master of Wine accreditation.  Lee has a B.A. from Smith College and a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University.  Lee initially pursued a career in journalism before devoting her life to wine.  Lee puts it best:

“What really makes me happy, besides spending time with my family and friends, is being able to turn people on to wine. Now, I spend as much time teaching, hosting wine and food television programs and speaking, or should I say preaching, to people about why wine is so wonderful and how it can transform your life. It helps slow down meals, I say. You can reach palate orgasm when you find that perfect food and wine pairing! You can become closer to cultures and places far away without ever having left your dining room. Plus, it tastes great and it makes you relaxed and happy. What more can you ask for?”

Lee started rating wine in 1992 and found the 100-point system helpful, especially when reviewing her notes from tastings five or ten years ago. Often when she tastes wine, the number surfaces before the words start to form in her mind. Jeannie Cho Lee’s scale is broken down as follows.

100 Truly extraordinary / Perfect
96-99 Exceptional / Great depth & complexity
93-96 Great / Complex
90-93 Superior
85-90 Distinguished
80-85 Good / Above average
75-80 Simple / Acceptable
70-75 Average / Dull
65-70 Poor / Below Average
60-65 Faulty
01-60 Undrinkable

JD – Jeb Dunnuck

American aerospace engineer turned wine critic, Jeb Dunnuck grew up on a rural farm in Indiana and discovered his love of wine in 1996 when traveling through Europe.  He developed a deep passion for Rhône wines (both France’s Rhône Valley and the Rhône movement in California and Washington) and ultimately launched the The Rhône Report in 2008, a quarterly newsletter reviewing Rhône variety wines from around the world.  His viewership exploded and in 2013 he was approached by Robert Parker to join The Wine Advocate team.  In 2017, Jeb Dunnuck left The Wine Advocate and launched his own website which focuses on wines from California, Washington, Southern France, and Bordeaux.  A few fun facts about Jeb Dunnuck:   (1) He believes scores from committees, panels, or legions of tasters are worthless; (2) he does not believe in basing evaluations off peer groups or regions, rather a wine is evaluated based on how well it carries the style in which it is made; and (3) he likens his rating system to the American high school grading system, which begins with 50 points and ends with 100 points.  Jeb Dunnuck’s scale is broken down as follows.

96-100 As good as it gets.  These wines reach the peak of my personal scale of quality.
90-95 Outstanding wines.  These wines are outstanding for their type and are worth the extra effort to seeking out.
85-89 Very Good to Good.  These offer real character and can be age worthy.
80-84 Good to Barely Good.  While still good, these wines lack character or fail to show a significant number of positive traits.  Wines in this category can deliver pleasure, particularly with a meal or in a setting where the wine won’t be the center of attention.
50-79 Quaffable to Undrinkable.  Wines rated less than 80 points are not recommended.  They will range from passable to flawed and undrinkable.

JG – Dr. Jamie Goode, wineanorak.com

With a PhD in plant biology and several years working as a book editor, London-based Jamie Goode ultimately founded Wineanorak in 1999.  “Anorak” is British slang for a person with an obsessive interest in niche subjects.  Besides running Wineanorak, Jamie Goode is a regular wine columnist with the UK national newspaper, The Sunday Express, and also contributes to numerous other wine publications around the world.  A few fun facts about Jamie Goode’s 100-point rating scale:  (1) He tends to rate between 85-95 points with very few exceptions above or below (scores less than 85, he believes generally do not justify a write-up and above 95 points need to be mind blowing); (2) he does not allocate points by category (e.g., nose, palate, etc.) but instead reviews the wine as a whole and rates it according to his overall impression.  Jamie Goode’s rating scale is below.

95-100 Excellent (The very best wines; a stunning effort)
90-94 Very good/excellent (A superb wine; this would probably be equivalent to a Parker score of 90+)
86-89 Very good+ (A good effort, worth seeking out, especially if the price is right)
82-85 Very good (Well made, interesting wine with some appeal)
79-81 Good (Acceptable quality plonk – definitely a commodity wine)
76-78 OK (Mediocre stuff, just about palatable, but not really worth the effort of drinking)
Below 75 Poor (Don’t drink, pour down the sink)

JH – James Halliday AM

Australian lawyer turned wine writer and critic, winemaker, and senior wine competition judge.  Since 1970, James Halliday has written and contributed to more than 80 books on wine.   In 1986, he began publishing an annual overview of Australian wine which (since 2000) has been entitled James Halliday Annual Wine Companion.  He also founded two Australian wineries, Brokenwood in the Hunter Valley and Coldstream Hills in the Yarra Valley.  In 1995, James Halliday received the Australian wine industry’s ultimate accolade, the Maurice O’Shea Award and in 2010 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the wine industry.  He has also collected numerous international awards, including two James Beard Awards.  A fun fact about James Halliday’s scoring in his own words:  “I only give one wine 100 points in my annual Wine Companion and it is always the new vintage of the wine in question: the Seppeltsfield 100 Year Old Para Vintage Tawny.  It is unique in the true sense of the word, for no other winery in the world can release a wine every year that is 100 years old.”  For those other wines lucky to make his publication, here’s the scaling.

97-99 Exceptional.  Wines that have won major trophy/trophies in important wine shows, or are of that standard.
95-96 Outstanding.  Wines of gold medal standard, usually with a great pedigree.
94 Wines on the cusp of gold medal status, virtually indistinguishable from those wines receiving 95 points.
90-93 Highly recommended.  Wines of silver medal standard, wines of great quality, style and character, and worthy of a place in any cellar.
89 Recommended.  Wines on the cusp of silver medal standard, the difference purely a judgement call.
86-88 Wines of bronze medal standard; well produced, flavoursome wines, usually not requiring cellaring.
84-85 Acceptable.  Wines of good commercial quality, free from significant fault.
80-83 Over to you.  Everyday wines without much character and/or somewhat faulty.
75-79 Not recommended.  Wines with one or more significant winemaking faults.

JO – Jeremy Oliver

With a Bachelor of Agricultural Science and a postgraduate degree in winemaking, Australian Jeremy Oliver is one of the few wine writers and critics with a formal technical wine education.  After a series of successful publications (the first of which made him the youngest-ever published wine author in the world), he started The Australian Wine Annual in 1997 and The Good Wine Guide in 2017.  Jeremy Oliver’s focus is Australian wine and he has become the “go to” wine ambassador for Australian wines throughout Asia.  He scores wines on a 20-point scale and converts to a 100-point scale for printed publications.

100 Points Medals 20 Points
96+ Top Gold Medal 18.8+
94-95 Regular Gold Medal 18.3-18.7
92-93 Top Silver Medal 17.8-18.2
90-91 Regular Silver Medal 17.0-17.7
87-89 Top Bronze Medal 16.0-16.9
84-86 Regular Bronze Medal 15.5-15.9

JS – James Suckling

James Suckling is an American wine critic and former Senior Editor and European Bureau Chief of Wine Spectator.  He started jamessuckling.com in 2010, a wine media platform and events company with offices in Hong Kong and Bangkok.  The website receives about 600,000 unique visitors annually and around 4 million followers when including its various social media and newsletter platforms.  The crux of the platform is James Suckling’s tasting notes and scores (all on a 100-point scale).  The website includes about 22,000 new reviews each year.  A few fun facts about James Suckling:  (1) He prefers to taste wines in their respective country of origin and spends months each year traveling the globe; (2) he has a class on wine tasting available online at Masterclass that is worth checking out (we took the class and loved it!); and (3) he’s a well-regarded cigar critic and once served as European Editor of Cigar Aficionado.

95+ A must buy (A+) and a bottle that I want to drink alone in its entirety.
90-94 Outstanding (A) and a wine that I want to drink a glass of right away and is an outstanding purchase.
88-89 Wines that are well made and enjoyable (B) but fall slightly short in a number of areas.
Below 88 It might still be worth buying but proceed with caution.  Would not recommend spending your money.

JP – John Platter Wine Guide

South Africa’s first and still best-selling wine annual, Platter’s Guide was conceived in 1978 by wine lovers and print journalists John and Erica Platter.  They have since handed over the reins to a team of wine critics that come together to rate South African wines and continue the annual publication.  When it comes to assessing wines, Platter’s uses two judging methods: label-sighted and blind tasting (with no label showing).  The blind tasting is reserved for wines that scored 93 points or more in the primary (sighted) tasting round and are re-tasted in a Five-Star taste off where small panels of experts assess all these wines blind to find the Five Star champions.  The highest-rated wines have therefore undergone multiple rounds of tasting and are considered by Platter’s as truly exceptional.

Star Rating 100 Points 20 points Description
5 95-100 18-20 Superlative. A South African Classic
4.5 90-94 17-17.5 Outstanding
4 86-89 16-16.5 Excellent
3.5 83-85 15.5 Very good / promising
3 80-82 15 Good, for early drinking
2.5 77-79 14.5 Average, with some appeal
2 73-76 14 Pleasant enough
1.5 70-72 13 Plain and simple
1 65-69 12 Unexciting
0.5 60-64 11 Very ordinary
0 50-59 10 Somewhat less than ordinary

JR – Jancis Robinson MW, OBE

Jancis Robinson received a Master’s degree in Math and Philosophy from Oxford University.  She is a British wine writer and critic and currently writes a weekly column for the Financial Times, and a daily column for her website, JancisRobinson.com.  She also provides advice for the wine cellar of Queen Elizabeth II (and did so for British Airways from 1995-2010).   Jancis Robinson started her wine career in 1976 as an assistant editor for Wine & Spirit and in 1984 became the first person outside the wine trade to become a Master of Wine. 

As a wine writer, she has become one of the world’s leading writers of educational and encyclopedic material on wine.  The Oxford Companion to Wine, edited by Jancis Robinson, is considered the most comprehensive wine encyclopedia in the world.  In addition, The World Atlas of Wine she co-authored with Hugh Johnson is one of the world’s leading wine atlases.  Among her numerous accolades, she was made an OBE (Order of the British Empire), an Officier de l’Ordre du Mérite Agricole by the French Minister of Agriculture, a VDP Golden Needle of Honor recipient in Germany, and has numerous James Beard Awards to her name.

Jancis Robinson uses the 20-point rating scale and rates wines in context since she does not believe there is a single objective yardstick of quality to measure across regions, years, grapes, etc.  According to Jancis Robinson, “[w]hen reviewing, for example, New Zealand Pinot Noirs, we score the wines in the context of New World Pinot Noir rather than on the same scale as we would mark red burgundies.  So with a score of 18.5, a 2003 Quartz Reef Pinot Noir is not equal to a 2003 DRC and never will be!”  Jancis Robinson’s rating scale is as follows.

20 Truly exceptional
19 A humdinger
18 A cut above superior
17 Superior
16 Distinguished
15 Average, a perfectly nice drink with no faults but not much excitement
14 Deadly dull
13 Borderline faulty or unbalanced
12 Faulty or unbalanced

LM – Luca Maroni, Annuario dei Migliori Vini Italiani

Between 1987 and 1989 Luca Maroni worked with Luigi Veronelli and set up Ex Vinis, the first Italian newsletter for wine sensory analysis.  In 1990, he set up his own publishing house and launched the magazine The Taster of Wine.  In 1993, he created the first edition of the Annuario dei Migliori Vini Italiani (Yearbook of the Best Italian Wines), an annual report on wine production by Italy’s best growers.  And in 1995, he wrote Degustare il Vino (Wine Tasting), where he presented his own unique scientific tasting technique known as the “Pleasantness Index”.  According to Luca Maroni, the evaluation of the pleasantness derives from three parameters:  Consistency, balance, and integrity of the wine’s taste and aroma.  Each category gets a score between 1 and 33 and the sum of the scores results in the indication of the quality of the wine.

Since 1990, Luca Maroni has written and published 72 issues of his magazine and over 70 books on Italian and world wines.  While we were not able to locate a public version of his rating scale, the Pleasantness Index is one that needs to be reviewed in its three parts separately.  By simply adding the sum, you may be missing a significant under or over performance in one category compared to the others that might be critical to your palate (and thus your specific enjoyment).

MC – Michael Cooper

Michael Cooper is an acclaimed New Zealand wine writer and critic, with over 43 books and several major literary awards to his name (including the Montana Medal in 2003 for his first edition of Wine Atlas of New Zealand and the Sir George Fistonich Medal for his annual New Zealand Wines:  Michael Cooper’s Buyer’s Guide in 2009).  In 2004, he was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his long service to wine writing.  Michael Cooper is a weekly wine columnist for the New Zealand Listener, has been the New Zealand editor for Australia’s Winestate magazine for years, and writes wine features for North & South magazine.

Michael Cooper obtained his Master’s degree from University of Auckland in 1977 and went on to work as a marketing manager for Babich Wines from 1980 to 1991 before giving up employment to become a full-time writer in 1991.

Michael Cooper has a unique approach to wine rating.  He uses a 5-star rating system, but for a wine over time (not for each vintage).  If he has tasted enough vintages of a particular wine, he will also assign whether the wine has reached Super Classic, Classic, or Potential Classic status.  For those curious about a specific vintage, he lets the winemakers self-select a score between 1-7 based on their highest quality aspirations for that label.  Michael Cooper’s ratings are based on comparing wines in the same context in New Zealand only (since his ratings/guides are specific to the territory).  So, for example, a five-star Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon is an outstanding-quality red judged by the standards of other Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blends made in New Zealand.

Star Rating Description
5 Outstanding quality (gold medal standard)
4.5 Excellent quality, verging on outstanding
4 Excellent quality (silver medal standard)
3.5 Very good quality
3 Good quality (bronze medal standard)
2.5 Average quality
2 Plain
1 Poor
0 No star:  To be avoided
NR Not rated (tasted prior to bottling)
   
Classic Rating Description
Super Classic Highly prestigious wines, with a proven ability to mature well (must have achieved outstanding quality for at least 5 vintages)
Classic A wine that in quality terms consistently ranks in the very forefront of its class (must have achieved outstanding quality for at least 3 vintages)
Potential Classic Wines of outstanding quality which look likely, if their current standards are maintained or improved, to qualify after another vintage or two for elevation to Classic status.

MJ – Matthew Jukes

Matthew Jukes is a UK wine writer and critic (with an affinity for Australian wine) who started his wine career in 1987 working for James Rogers at the Barnes Wine Shop in London. From 1990-2016 he became the wine buyer for for Bibendum Restaurant & Oyster Bar in London, where he won numerous awards for this wine list.  This opened the door for Matthew Jukes to focus on journalism where he held a weekly radio slot for BBC for several years and hosted Wine Hunt for Channel 4.  He also writes a wine column for the Daily Mail’s Weekend Magazine (with over 9 million readers each week), a weekly column for MoneyWeek, and a monthly column for Vineyard Magazine.

Matthew Jukes also concentrates on four comprehensive annual reports which are published on his website:  (1) The Burgundy En Primeur Report is published in early January; (2) the Bordeaux En Primeur Report is published in April; (3) the 100 Best Australian Wines Report is published in May; and (4) the Piemonte Report is published in the Spring.

Interesting fact about Matthew Jukes:  He is a keen supporter of homeless charities and is the Patron and Founder of Touch Wine (an organization that raises money for the homeless in Adelaide, South Australia) and Degustation for Dignity (in aid of St. Mary’s House of Welcome in Melbourne).  To date, his various initiatives have raised over AUD $2.5m for charity.

While Matthew Jukes uses a 20-point rating scale, he notes that “as a wine taster and writer I prefer you to read my words rather than focus on my scores.  This is why I rarely score wines unless I am writing a large En Primeur Report or similar style of article.”  This could also be why we were not able to find a publicly-available rating scale for Matthew Jukes!

NM – Neal Martin

Neal Martin is a wine critic and author based in the UK.  He is a Senior Editor for Vinous reviewing the wines of Bordeaux, Burgundy, South Africa, and New Zealand.  In 2012, Neal Martin authored the award-winning book, Pomerol, which won the inaugural André Simon John Avery Award and the Chairman’s Award at the Louis Roederer Wine Writers Awards 2013.  The Vinous rating scale is as follows.

96-100 Exceptional.  A profound and emotionally moving wine that exemplifies the very best attributes of its kind.  These are the world’s great, iconic wines.
90-95 Outstanding.  A wine of remarkable personality and breed that is well worth seeking out.
85-89 Excellent.  A strong wine with true character that provides highly enjoyable drinking.  This is the sweet spot for values and everyday wines that won’t break the bank.
80-84 Average.  A wine with no flaws, but no distinction.
75-79 Below Average.  A wine with at least one noticeable flaw.
Below 75 Not worth your time.

RJ – Ray Jordan

Ray Jordon is one of Western Australia’s leading wine writers and critics.  Originally trained as a lawyer, he wrote for Winestate in the 1970’s and hosted a show on Western Australian radio for 3 years.  Today, Ray Jordan writes regular columns for The West Australian and produces his annual guide to Western Australian wine.  He is the winner of the Western Australia Wine Press Club wine writing award and was awarded the George Mulgrue Award for his extensive contribution to the Western Australia wine industry.

Ray Jordan uses a 100-point system.  Anything over 85 points he considers a solid drink and anything over 94 points is outstanding and around gold medal class.  By converse, we can assume anything below 85 points is not worth your time.  Ray Jordan’s rating scale is (humorously) below.

97-100 You sell the kids for this.
94-96 You sell your wife or husband and think about selling the kids.
90-93 Faultless, excellent drinking.
85-89 Good quality and worth a serious look.

RKP – Ralph Kyte-Powell

Ralph Kyte-Powell has worked in and around the Australian wine and hospitality industries for over 35 years.  He has had a wine column in the Melbourne newspaper The Age for 20 years, coauthored the Good Australian Wine Guide for eight years with Huan Hooke, writes in leading magazines in both Australia and New Zealand, and is a columnist at Good Food.  Ralph Kyte-Powell also subscribes to The Real Review Alliance scoring system established by Bob Campbell and Huan Hooke to harmonize critic ratings in New Zealand and Australia. 

95-100 These wines are in the big league.  They are truly excellent wines which are fully representative of their region, variety and maker; wines of pedigree, great balance and harmony.  They sing with a kind of rightness; an effortlessness; a natural symmetry.  Over 95 points, they are the best of their breed, with great distinction, a certain thrill factor – and sometimes even uniqueness.
90-94 The 90-point threshold is an important one, both psychologically and practically.  90 points is a silver medal in many wine competitions, and that indicates a very high quality wine.  Aside from technical quality, it will possess character, balance and that hard-to-define element, style. And also textural refinement, as opposed to coarseness.
85-89 Good to very good, serviceable, fault-free wines for everyday drinking.  Some of these will also be cellarable.  The best of them are almost silver-medal quality.  Even an 85-point wine can be very good value depending on its price.
1-84
NR (Not Rated) The initials NR instead of a score usually indicate there was something wrong with the bottle sampled.  The usual fault is cork-derived taint or random oxidation (also thought to be due to faulty cork).  If there is any such suspicion about a wine, it is usually not rated.  A back-up bottle is tasted if available.  If impressions are below expectation, knowing that the wine was liked on a different occasion, or the wine is from a producer whose wines are normally rated highly, that bottle may also not be rated. An attempt is usually made to taste another bottle, impressions of that bottle recorded at a later date.

RP (Formerly WA) – Robert Parker

An American lawyer turned wine writer and critic, Robert Parker, published the first issue of his world-renowned The Wine Advocate in 1978.  Leading up to the publication, he had been bothered by the paucity of reliable, independent information on wine quality and wanted to commence his own independent consumer’s guide.  Thirty-five years later, The Wine Advocate has over 50,000 subscribers in the United States and in over 37 foreign countries.  In addition, Robert Parker has written 14 bestseller books on wine and in 2002, he founded erobertparker.com, which has become the number one visited website on wine according to data registered by Alexa.com.

Robert Parker has been a contributing editor for Food and Wine Magazine and Business Week, written periodically for the English magazine The Field and Forbes, and has been the wine critic for France’s L’Express magazine (the first time a non-Frenchman has held this position).

Robert Parker is the only wine writer and critic to be given the highest Presidential Honors by two French presidents (President François Mitterrand and President Jacques Chirac) and an Italian President (President Ciampi).  He is also the first wine writer and critic to receive the Grand Cross of the Order of Civil Merit, Spain’s highest civilian honor, by His Majesty King Juan Carlos and the government of Spain.  In 2004, the Culinary Institute of America created a legacy endowment for wine education scholarships in his name and in 2013 he became the first wine critic inducted into the Culinary Institute of America’s Vintners Hall of Fame in Napa Valley.

Robert Parker has been noted as the founder of the 100-point scale (having rejected the previously existing 20-point scale for, according to him, not providing enough flexibility and often resulting in compressed and inflated wine ratings).  His scale has remained unchanged since the first publication of The Wine Advocate.

96-100 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 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 below average wine containing noticeable deficiencies, such as excessive acidity and/or tannin, an absence of flavor or possibly dirty aromas or flavors.
50-59 A wine deemed to be unacceptable.

SK – Sam Kim, Wine Orbit

For 30 years, Sam Kim has been involved in New Zealand hospitality, wine retail, importing and distribution, and running courses and master classes on wine.  He holds a Certificate in Winemaking from EIT (Hawke’s Bay) and has been judging wine for the last 20 years at various wine competitions and magazines.  Sam Kim does not have a financial interest, directly or indirectly, in a winery, importer, distributor or any company involved in wine marketing.

Sam Kim created Wine Orbit, a website featuring reviews of New Zealand wines and wines of the world.  Its stated aim is to provide the wine industry, trade, and wine enthusiasts with reviews from a senior wine judge’s perspective.  Wine Orbit is an advertising-free website, choosing instead to charge a submission fee to each wine entered into formal tastings.

Each wine is rated by Sam Kim out of 20-points then converted to 100-point and five-star scales, which Sam Kim believes are the two most effective and easy to understand rating systems.

Wines are tasted using Riedel Ouverture Magnum and Riedel Ouverture White Wine glasses.  Wines scoring below 81 points (3.5 stars) are not published.

Star Rating 100 Points Description
5 96-100 Exceptional quality exhibiting the highest level of concentration and complexity.
5 93-95 Outstanding quality showing varietal purity and exemplifying regional type.
4.5 89-92 Excellent quality showing a high level of concentration and balance.
4 85-88 Very good quality displaying attractive flavours and good balance.
3.5 81-84 Good quality, easy drinking with straightforward flavours.
3 77-80 Average quality, pleasant, satisfactory.

ST – Stephen Tanzer

Stephen Tanzer is an American wine critic and editor at Vinous. From 1985 until he joined Vinous in 2014 as its Editor-In-Chief, Stephen Tanzer was the publisher of the critically-acclaimed bimonthly International Wine Cellar, an independent journal read by wine professionals and other wine lovers in all 50 U.S. states and 34 countries.  Stephen Tanzer has also served as Senior Editor and wine columnist for Food & Wine magazine and was the wine columnist for Forbes FYI.  Stephen Tanzer has particular expertise on the wines of Bordeaux, as well as other prominent wine regions, including Burgundy, California, Washington State, and South Africa.  The Vinous rating scale is as follows.

96-100 Exceptional.  A profound and emotionally moving wine that exemplifies the very best attributes of its kind.  These are the world’s great, iconic wines.
90-95 Outstanding.  A wine of remarkable personality and breed that is well worth seeking out.
85-89 Excellent.  A strong wine with true character that provides highly enjoyable drinking.  This is the sweet spot for values and everyday wines that won’t break the bank.
80-84 Average.  A wine with no flaws, but no distinction.
75-79 Below Average.  A wine with at least one noticeable flaw.
Below 75 Not worth your time.

TA – Tim Atkin AW

Tim Atkin is an award-winning Master of Wine with 33 years of experience as a UK wine journalist and critic.  He writes (colorfully!) for Harpers, Decanter, Gourmet Traveller Wine and Imbibe and has his own website, timatkin.com.  He is an accomplished photographer whose photos have been published in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, and the World of Fine Wine.

Tim Atkin has won over 30 awards for his journalism and photography including, on multiple occasions, the Glenfiddich Wine Writer Award and the Wine Guild of the United Kingdom’s Wine Columnist of the Year Award.  Tim Atkin uses the 100-point rating system (but, unfortunately, we could not find it publicly available).

TC – Tom Cannavan

Tom Cannavan is publisher of the wine-pages.com website, and Scotland’s most prominent wine expert.  He won International Wine Communicator of the Year 2018 at the International Wine & Spirit Competition and has won numerous other awards during his career.

He has made over 100 appearances on live television and is the resident wine expert for BBC Scotland. His writing has also appeared in Decanter, World of Fine Wine, and the Financial Times of London.

Wine-pages.com was launched in 1995, making Tom Cannavan a true Internet pioneer of wine.  Fun facts about Tom Cannavan:  (1) His website offers free wine courses(!) and (2) he was lead vocalist and guitarist for Restricted Code, a band drawing on influences from punk, new wave, funk, and soul.  Tom Cannavan subscribes to the 100-point rating scale.

96-100 Exceptional.  A profound wine that exemplifies the very best attributes of its kind.
90-95 Outstanding.  A wine of great quality that is well worth seeking out.
85-89 Very Good.  A strong wine with true character that provides highly enjoyable drinking.
80-84 Average.  A wine with no flaws, but no distinction.
75-79 Below Average.  A wine with at least one noticeable flaw.
Below 75 Not worth your time.

TP – Tasting Panel, Tastings.com, Beverage Testing Institute

Tastings, powered by the Beverage Testing Institute, was founded in 1981 with the goal of producing fair, impartial wine reviews for consumers.  Panelists are retailers, restaurateurs, writers, and trade buyers and sellers–all rigorously screened, audited, and trained in Tastings’ proprietary blind-tasting methodology.  Each tasting goes through a series of rounds of scoring across the relevant panelists using a four-band scale – Tastings believes the shorter the scale the easier it is for panelists to repeat their scores accurately.  In the end, these scores are then translated (using the most frequent score rather than the average score) into a modified 100-point scale with the five bands shown below.

96-100 Superlative (Platinum Medal)
90-95 Exceptional (Gold Medal)
85-89 Highly Recommended (Silver Medal)
80-84 Recommended (Bronze Medal)
Below 79 Not Recommended (No Medal)

TS – Tyson Stelzer

Tyson Stelzer is an Australia-based wine writer and critic with an expertise in Champagne.  He has written numerous books about wine, including the annual Champagne Guide.  He is also a regular contributor to various wine publications including Wine Spectator, Decanter, Qantas’ The Australian Way, Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine, James Halliday’s Australian Wine Companion, and Jancis Robinson’s The Oxford Companion to Wine.  He won the Australian Communicator of the Year 2015 award, the International Wine & Spirit Communicator of the Year 2015 award, and International Champagne Writer of the Year in 2011.  As a television presenter, Tyson Stelzer is the host of the People of the Vines series.

Tyson Stelzer utilizes the 100-point rating scale and his (very detailed!) scale for Champagne is noted below.

100 The pinnacle of character, balance and persistence.
99 Almost perfection.
98 An exceedingly rare caliber of world-class distinction.
97 More than exceptional.
96 Exceptional. Top gold or trophy standard in a wine show.
95 Offering an edge that pushes beyond excellent.
94 Excellent champagne that I love.  Gold medal in a wine show.
93 Almost excellent.
92 A very good wine that characterises its place and variety
91 Better than good, offering an edge of distinction.  Silver medal.
90 A good wine that I like.
89 Better than sound and almost good.
88 Sound.  Worth buying if it’s cheap.  Bronze medal standard.
87 Almost sound.
86 Simple and ordinary.
85 Ordinary and boring, though without notable faults.
84 Borderline faulty.
83 Faulty. Caution!
82 Distinctly faulty.
81 Exceedingly faulty.  Stand well clear.
80 Horrid.  You’ve been warned.

V – Antonio Galloni, Vinous

Antonio Galloni is an American wine critic.  He is a son of immigrants from Venezuela who eventually made their way to Florida to retail Italian wines (his father is Italian).  In 2004, while a graduate student at MIT, Antonio Galloni founded Piedmont Report, the first in-depth, English language journal solely focused on Italian wine.  From 2006 to 2013 Antonio Galloni was a tasting staff member (and ultimately lead critic) of Robert Parker’s publication The Wine Advocate.  In May 2013, after Robert Parker announced he was stepping down as Editor-In-Chief of The Wine Advocate, Antonio Galloni founded Vinous, his vision of a modern-day wine publication.  Vinous has grown to become one of the world’s most influential wine publications, and Antonio Galloni remains the lead critic covering the wines of Bordeaux, California, Italy, and Champagne.  Vinous’ writers and critics offer in-depth coverage of new releases, retrospectives and verticals of older wines, videos with winemakers, interactive maps, restaurant recommendations, and much more – all in a continual, daily stream of articles.  Vinous ultimately acquired Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar and the apps Delectable and Banquet to add to its portfolio.  The Vinous rating scale is as follows.

96-100 Exceptional.  A profound and emotionally moving wine that exemplifies the very best attributes of its kind.  These are the world’s great, iconic wines.
90-95 Outstanding.  A wine of remarkable personality and breed that is well worth seeking out.
85-89 Excellent.  A strong wine with true character that provides highly enjoyable drinking.  This is the sweet spot for values and everyday wines that won’t break the bank.
80-84 Average.  A wine with no flaws, but no distinction.
75-79 Below Average.  A wine with at least one noticeable flaw.
Below 75 Not worth your time.

WE – Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Wine Enthusiast Magazine was founded in 1988, bringing consumers information on the world of wine and spirits, reviewing hundreds of wines each month, and comprehensive coverage of wine and lifestyle topics peripheral to wine – such as entertaining, travel, restaurants, and notable sommeliers.  Published 14 times a year, Wine Enthusiast has a readership of over 800,000 consumers worldwide.  The magazine has an accompanying website, Winemag.com, that hosts an extensive database of wine reviews, interviews, food and wine pairings, beer and spirits news, and other topics.  The magazine uses a simple 100-point wine scale.

98-100 The pinnacle of quality.
94-97 A great achievement.
90-93 Highly recommended.
87-89 Often good value; well recommended.
83-86 Suitable for everyday consumption; often good value.
80-82 Can be employed in casual, less-critical circumstances.
Below 80 Products deemed unacceptable and are not reviewed.

WS – Wine Spectator Magazine

Founded as a San Diego-based tabloid newspaper by Bob Morrisey in 1976, Wine Spectator was purchased three years later by current Publisher and Editor Marvin R. Shanken.  That year, its panel of experts blind tasted and reviewed over 12,400 wines.  Wine Spectator is now a lifestyle magazine that focuses on wine and wine culture.  It publishes 15 issues per year with content that includes news, articles, profiles, and general entertainment pieces.  Each issue also includes from 400 to more than 1,000 wine reviews, which consist of wine ratings and tasting notes.  Each year the announcement of the magazine’s Top 100 Wines and Wine of the Year in November is a highly-anticipated event worldwide.  In 2008, the magazine was ranked by the Luxury Institute as the #1 business and consumer publication among wealthy readers.  The magazine follows the 100-point rating system.

95-100 Classic: a great wine.
90-94 Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style.
85-89 Very good: a wine with special qualities.
80-84 Good: a solid, well-made wine.
75-79 Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws.
50-74 Not recommended.

W&S – Wine & Spirits Magazine

The magazine was started under the name Winestate’s Wine & Spirits Buying Guide.  In October 1984, it changed to Wine & Spirits and was acquired by Joshua Greene in 1989.  The magazine publishes 7 issues annually and is read by over 200,000 members of America’s wine community.  The magazine covers information on established and up-and-coming regions and producers, the art and science of viticulture, industry happenings, food and wine pairings, and wine and spirit reviews.  Wine & Spirits is the only wine publication to win the James Beard Award five times for excellence in wine writing and evaluates more than 15,000 bottlings every year.  The magazine uses the 100-point rating system.  All wine evaluations are conducted under controlled, blind conditions, with the wines served in numbered glasses in its own offices (Los Angeles for domestic wines; New York for imported wines).  There are purportedly no exceptions.

100 Transcendent.  A wine that speaks directly from the earth, communicating the flavors of its place with unequaled complexity and intensity; it will offer pleasure for decades.
96-99 Astonishing, Rare.  A wine that saturates the senses with flavors that feel unique and thrilling; a rare landmark for its region.
93-95 Exciting, Distinctive.  A wine that transcends simple typicity to its region or variety—a vivid, singular expression of place.
90-92 Delicious, Compelling.  A compelling wine of its region; a delicious, finessed expression of a place.
88-89 Delicious, Representative.  Well-made, pleasurable and true to its region or variety.
85-87 Balanced, Crowd Pleasing.  Identifiable in style and regional character, and qualitatively solid.
80-84 Useful.  Simple wine that will either quench thirst or play a useful role at the table.

WW – Wilfred Wong, Wine.com

Wilfred Wong, Chief Storyteller for Wine.com, grew up in San Francisco, attended UC Berkeley (Go Bears!), and turned himself into one of the world’s leading wine experts.  Wong was born in San Francisco and got into wine thanks to his parents’ grocery story, the Ashbury Market in the famed Haight-Ashbury neighborhood where he had the opportunity to purchase wine for retail – taking the small store from the likes of Gallo and Italian Swiss Colony to producers like Caymus, Stag’s Leap, and Chateau Montelena.  He spent the next 20 years building up the wine-side of the family business, writing about wines and tasting as much as possible. 

In 1995, Wilfred Wong moved over to BevMo!, which hired him as an import wine buyer and eventually promoted him to cellarmaster.  As part of his job, Wilfred Wong would travel the world, tasting more than 10,000 wines per year and writing tasting notes and scores for those wines BevMo! sold.  In 2014, after helping take BevMo! from 6 to 150 stores, Wilfred Wong left to join Wine.com (the largest online wine retailer) as Chief Storyteller.  Besides including his top picks and ratings on Wine.com for readers, he also tastes and recommends wine to both the merchandising and marketing sides of the company.  Wilfred Wong utilizes the 100-point rating scale.

95-100 World class wines, typically in excellent vintages.  Often single vineyard bottlings; in many cases I will prefer the winery’s single vineyard bottling to their reserve offerings.
90-94 There are lots 90 point wines that are fat, rich and big.  They are often made in a production line way, but with close to an top grade grapes.  But this also includes the delicate, yet complex – wines that are not huge, but balanced and layered.  When I venture into the 91-94 area, I find the wines pretty special.
85-89 Very commercial, to pretty fine.  This is the place where most of the nationally traded wines end up.  I also put wines in the 88-89 point range when they are over-oaked and contain too much sugar, fancy stuff that just missed the grade.
80-84 Clean, simple, boring wines, commercial like canned soup.
70-79 Clean, innocuous and really simple wines and super premium wines, with very low keyed aromas and flavors.  Usually confined to “jug” wines and often seen from areas outside of the major global growing regions.  Often from areas that have never sold their wine internationally.
51-69 Wines here have noticeable flaws that are real and not just imagined or perceived.  I sometime see these wines from immature winegrowing regions.
0-50 Poor, incredible amount of flaws- In the early 1970’s wine judges would often encounter these kinds of wine.  Today, this category is rarely seen.