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Wine Judging Scales


wtbell
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The Detroit International Wine Experience has published a 20 point scale for judging wines:

DIWE 20-Scale for Judging Wine.

In summary, it breaks the judging process down into 5 broad areas:

  • Appearance (0-1)
  • Aroma and Bouquet (0-6)
  • Taste and Texture (0-6)
  • Aftertaste (0-3)
  • Overall Impression (0-4)

Among their caveats and instructions: "Remember to judge the wine, and not your preference for wines. Rate each wine individually and on it's own merits. Try not to compare one wine to another during judging.

While subjective, would using this sort of judging system allow you to rank wines within certain subgroups (type and price range, for example)? Should the categories be weighed differently?

Ward Bell

Obsidian Communications

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Just a reminder: my interest in this subject is based on a concept I'm developing for collecting ratings and combining them using some advanced statistical techniques in order to arrive at a system that provides recommendations. To achieve my goal, I need to come up with some measure that is useful in differentiating wines and is easy to collect. This Detroit 20-Point scale seems to satisfy those needs; may need some incentives to encourage folks to use it.

Ward Bell

Obsidian Communications

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20 point scales have been around for many years. I hate to admit that I am pre-Parker but all of the tastings and score sheets prior to Parker were based on a version of this scale. There were subtle difference in the max points to each catagory. I think that the Underground Wine Journal still uses this system.

edited for spelling

Edited by dlc (log)
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IMO, no professional rating of a wine should be based on just one tasting. Certainly not without also divulging the circumstances of the tasting. As I have said in other posts, therre are simply too many variables. s such I think statistical analysis can be useful, albeit difficult, in getting an overall picture of a wine.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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oh gosh I do not know...

what about varietal correctness, regional considerations and all that?

What about, does this make my heart beat?

It has always seemed wretchedly inappropriate, to me anyways, to be judging Lambrusco and Volnay Les Fremiets all on the same scale.

Quantification is such a linear, limited way to approach wine.

It takes the mirth, emotion and artfulness out and lets the spread sheet deconstruction in.

here's a good example:

We did a Rhone tasting in the shop. At the end we showed a Gaillard Cote Rotie, 1999.

It is an absolutely beautiful wine, smokey, terse, with raspberries and seeds, a little Viognier blended in just like they used to.

The tasters loved it, bought all of it and now it is our go to Rotie.

WS score- 84.

A dismal score, for a great wine.

probably much to do with this score was that it was tasted as an infant, and the color was not rich.

Who cares

the wine rocked.

over it

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I really appreciate all who have responded to my question; while a relative newcomer in terms of being registered and posting, I've been "lurking" in this forum and others as I have began my work on this recommendation concept.

On the web, there are sites where you can register your preferences and receive movie recommendations, based on matching your preferences with the preferences of others. There is no guarantee that you will, indeed, like the movies recommended, but the probability is that you will.

On the web, there are sites that share ratings and reviews of music; same thing as above: by sharing your profile and match it with others, a play list that you may appreciate can be generated.

Why not for wine? Actually, there are a number of recommendation services that might not exactly position themselves as such, but they do. In the States, check out the weekend sales figures for wines discussed in the Wall Street Journal's WeekEnd wine column by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher.

While they go out of their way to say that these are not recommendations, people accept their judgement and taste and go out an purchase and try the wines listed.

On this site, there are tasting notes. Some of us will, based on our view of the writer of the notes, try some of those wines ourselves. Our experience is neither improved or degraded by the note -- however, it might encourage us to try something that we might not otherwise.

So, what I'm trying to create (adapt is probably a better term) is a means whereby a diverse group of people with differing levels of knowledge and sophistication, can submit a quasi-objective judgement on wines they have experienced.

By aggregating this data, I should be able to provide someone who is looking for a recommendation something that has a high probability of meeting their expectations. If so, great! If not, their review goes into the database and helps to further refine it.

This has nothing to do with Parker's ratings or the ratings of any of the other sources. As one person has stated, a wine with an 84 rating could be deemed excellent in some circumstances.

Does this make more (or less) sense now?

Ward Bell

Obsidian Communications

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A friend of mine as a two-point scale:  Yum and Yuck.  Seems to make sense.

It makes sense on a personal level while drinking the wine, but not really when trying to get a sense of what the wine was like and whether or not I would likely have the same response. Give me a nice cab based wine with pasta in tomato sauce and it won't be the same as with a good steak and mushrooms. Does it mean that it is a bad wine when drunk with the pasta? No. What about a wine that is great to drink on its own without food - e.g. "the hedonistic fruit bomb"? How does it fare with food? Context is key. Am I drinking the wine at a casual party with friends or a wine tasting with strangers? Ultimately what matters is whether one enjoys the wine or not. Understanding the context of a tasting report or score is invaluable in assessing whether an investment in a new wine may be worthwhile. A number without the context of its rating is useless, but not totally so long as it can be placed in the appropriate context.

A statistical model such as proposed here is IMO not a bad idea so long that someone is able to give it enough of a chance to match his or her palate to the statistical norms.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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A friend of mine as a two-point scale:  Yum and Yuck.  Seems to make sense.

I agree that this might work for a while but we all have had the experience of having the perfect night. We are having dinner with a special friend or group of friends, the night is delightful, the setting perfect, the food sublime. We are entranced by the conversation and commeraderie. The wine has added an unbelievable boost to the evening. It is perfect.

We run to the wineshop the next day and buy 6 btls or a case in anticipation of a repeat. We open a bottle at home on a Tues. night with our standard fare and discover "WHY DID I BUY THIS".

I think that wtbell has a great idea that could help some persons make a better choice in wines but first they must know their palate. There is so much more to the enjoyment of wine than just the taste and smell.

Not really wanting to change the subject but the premise of the system begs the question of whether a 90 or 100 or whatever point wine is always that score.

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A clarification on the yum/yuck.

I agree with those who say there needs to be more. If the entire summation of a wine were left to one of those two words, there would indeed be something missing. Wine likely needs more description and then maybe yum or yuck as the concluding word for my friend who uses that scale.

I also partially mentioned it tongue in cheek.

Personally, I really don't pay any attention to wine ratings. And when I write and post tasting notes, I don't add any type of rating. One, I know I could never be consistent enough. Two, I'm rarely drinking/evaluating wine in a vacuum. In my description I'll try to be evaluative, to a point, from my preferences, but that's the best I can do.

On one occasion, I posted ratings along with the notes. But that was from a golf/wine weekend, and I had fun rating the wines eagle, birdie, par, bogey, etc., but that was a one time thing.

And, Walt.

Again, you will probably find some takers for your system. Theoretically it makes sense for those who wish to use something like it. It will require more consumer effort than what is available to them now.

There was one web site (I can no longer remember it) that at what was called an e-sommelier. It would send emails with wine recommendations based on the types of wines you've been drinking or buying. I experimented with it once just to see how it would work. For me, at any rate, it never recommended a wine I would actually buy. But that was just me.

We cannot employ the mind to advantage when we are filled with excessive food and drink - Cicero

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Wine competition is not unlike horse racing or boxing in that it's easy enough for a panel to posthumously rank dead contestants as long as you're willing to accept disagreement (and maybe fisticuffs) among the panelists, but among living peers, there's no guarantee who's going to win a race or a match on any given day, no matter the odds. There's also no objective finish line or knock out in wine tasting. While some people might appreciate a horse race without caring who comes in first, I would hope that the "scores" would not be the most important thing to anyone involved except for maybe the seller and his banker.

That won't stop anyone from ranking wines or devising new scales on which to base the ranking. I have no idea who invented the Grading list for BUXBAUM methode. I can only hope and pray we're not related. I would award less than a half point for opalescent wines and give no credit for a "gloomy" wine, even without bits of skin. :biggrin:

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Recommendations.

I think that trust has a great deal of impact on how we receive recommendations. For example, as "newbie" to this forum, I spent some time going over the archives. I see lots of examples where people have come asking for suggestions and names are given.

(There was even one case I remember where a member passed on a suggestion that another, apparently trusted member made and I got the impression that the recommender had yet tried the suggested wine.)

Trust does not have to carry experience with it, but is probably higher if it does. I trust that if I went through all the recommendations given here that I'd probably like most of the wines and that would be considerably better than making uninformed, blind choice in the wine shop.

Again, probably nothing replaces the shop owner or employed that we've developed a relationship with. But what if they are not available?

For example, someone here mentioned Binney & Smith; I'm not personnally familiar with them, but I understand that they are a big shop in the Chicago area. I went to their website and search for American Pinot Noirs. The initial search came back with 119 entries!

While I could slice and dice that list by price or area, how might I choose wines to try from that listing? I'm thinking that it would be good if I had some semi-objective way to see how folks who apparently have a similar palate to mine feel about some of these wines. If there is a match, I think I would feel more comfortable trying something new to me -- recognizing, of course, that in the end, re-purchasing a given wine depends on my own experience with that recommended wine.

One of the many challenges my concept has is getting folks to add their ratings to the database. Until there are sufficient ratings within the system, recommendations derived from the data will not be statistically meaningfull. One of the ways that I'm considering is to make the scoring system available at local wine tastings and then recording the results. Once the system is operational and able to provide reasonable recommedations, I think people may be more willing to record their own ratings.

What might be other incentives to participating in such an exercise?

Ward Bell

Obsidian Communications

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One of the many challenges my concept has is getting folks to add their ratings to the database. Until there are sufficient ratings within the system, recommendations derived from the data will not be statistically meaningfull. One of the ways that I'm considering is to make the scoring system available at local wine tastings and then recording the results. Once the system is operational and able to provide reasonable recommedations, I think people may be more willing to record their own ratings.

Ward,

So, if I read this correctly, your system requires numerical scores for each wine tasted.

Right?

Best, Jim

www.CowanCellars.com

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A Swiss wine mag for Italian wine established the "Empty Bottle" wine rating.

They open a lot of bottles and have the tasting with a meal. Eveyone is allowed to drink as much from every bottle he likes.

At the end of the meal, the rating scale is represented by amount (volume) of each wine consumed. It's called the JLF-Test. (German for "the emptier the bottle")

Here you find some results. The less height (cm) of the liquid level the better. It's in German, but it's easy to compare the results with your tasting impression.

Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.

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Yes, Jim: my proposed system "requires" individuals to record their ratings of the wines they have sampled. Of course, that requirement is sorta voluntary, because one cannot expect everyone to participate fully (it is sort of a community thing).

Why the ratings?

Your ratings are important to the system so that we can establish your profile. The hypothesis is that if you rate 100 wines (arbitrary number for now; some statistical analysis will be performed over time to determine some optimal number and some minimum), if the rating scale is sensitive enough, we can establish a profile of your tastes over that 100 type sample.

We can then take a sample of your ratings and find all the others within our database who have scored those same wines the same way that you did. While rather crude, we can say with some confidence that this group shares the same tastes.

Now comes the speculative part: we believe that we can predict, with some high level of confidence, that you will like a wine that your peers in this grouping rated high but you have yet to sample or rate. We cannot guarantee that you will like it, but the probability will be high based on your self-reported results.

The 20 point scale referenced in the first posting of this group might give us the discrimination that is needed for this sort of analysis. It is weighted towards Taste and Aroma/Bouquet (0-6 possible points) and Overall Impression (0-4) is relatively highly weighted.

What I like about it is that it pushes the reviewer, who may not be so sophisticated and experienced, to consider the various aspects of a wine's characteristic. And, again, it is important for this scoring to have value, to be a judgement of the wine tasted and not a reflection of your preferences or some comparision to some other wine.

Boris, I like that empty bottle rating system. I would probably be a poor participant is such a test as I hate to leave partially-filled bottles! I guess I belong to the "clean plate and empty glass" generation!

Ward Bell

Obsidian Communications

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I think you have an intriguing idea that might use wine scores in a useful way. Certainly no one score for a wine is particularly useful, especially if it is someone else's, however, if sample size can be large enough, I can see where patterns may develop and have some validity. I don't think this will be easy to accomplish, but good luck.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Yes, Jim: my proposed system "requires" individuals to record their ratings of the wines they have sampled. Of course, that requirement is sorta voluntary, because one cannot expect everyone to participate fully (it is sort of a community thing).

Ward,

I believe from reading your explanation that I understand where you are headed with this system and, assuming you get sufficient input, you may be able to assit folks who avail themself of it.

For myself, I will opt out for reasons which I think you have already heard/read.

Good luck.

Best, Jim

www.CowanCellars.com

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Thanks, John: it will take lots of work and a good measure of luck. Still got to work out if the scale proposed give enough discrimination.

Will explore the concept a bit this evening. One of the better shops is holding a tasting of its selection of staff recommendations. In my scenario, I would prepare a score sheet for each wine in the tasting and capture the customer's ratings at they taste the selections. It would seem that this is a good opportunity for teaching as well as data collection.

At the end of the evening, I would collect the sheets and enter them into the database.

What I want to test this evening is staff's reaction to the concept of collecting this data during tastings. It seems to me that valuable information is left on the table when there is no attempt to collect reactions.

Ward Bell

Obsidian Communications

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One of the problems with the format you are describing is that the "ratings" will be based on a taste isolated in time and context. We all know that the way a wine tastes and is perceived changes with time as the bottle is opened and the wine "breathes" in a glass or decanter. In addition, perception of a wine is most decidedly affected by the pairing with foods. This is a big problem for me with most rating systems. The wines tend to be tasted in isolation and scored based on that. Very few wines are actually drunk that way. Nevertheless, I still think you have a good idea, which means to say a potential improvement over current methods of disseminating relatively subjective wine-tasting information.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Context.

Absolutely! Context is everything. A computer could keep track of as many variables as we would want to collect but the limit, I think is on what we can encourage the public to record.

The idea is to remove some elements of mystery to the process without over-promising. If used within a broader scope of teaching and sharing, I think that the service can be of value to the individual who wants to try but isn't ready just to jump in and plunk $20 down for an unknown.

We all know that until they try and until they develop their own lists of keepers and avoiders, no progress is made but you have to start somewhere.

thanks, again, for your feedback!

Ward Bell

Obsidian Communications

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Well, I took my Detroit International Wine Experience 20-point scale and a little notebook with me to an in-store tasting on Monday. I won't name the store but it is fairly well respected in my community but I've not had good luck talking wines with this one person that hosted the tasting.

Maybe it is me?

(I went to a previous tasting of Beaujolais Nouveau in this store and was asking a number of questions: specifically how she rated this 2003 Beaujolais Nouveau (because of the heat in France and early harvest) and if we could project how the later released Beaujolais would taste based on the Nouveau. I don't know what it was but she responded with some bs.)

In any event, the setup and atmosphere was not condusive to what I wanted to accomplish so I just tasted the reds she had open. Didn't find any that particularly appealed to me but I did buy a pinot (recommended in the recent pinot noir item) and left.

I've just got to go to this store when she isn't on duty!

Ward Bell

Obsidian Communications

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