Robert Parker introduced his radical 100-Point Scale rating system in 1978, back then it polarised the wine world, and today, although it has gained acceptance in a number of publications and with individual critics, it still attracts a love-hate relationship.
There was sound logic for Parker to adopt such a rating system however, he tailored the Real World Model for United States High School grading and applied it to wine reviews. It enabled those US wine consumers to easily apply the scale that they were familiar with, transmogrifying a wine into an academic student. It provided Parker with a more expansive scale to account for the nuances of the wines reviewed in his Wine Advocate magazine.
In reality, Parker’s 100-Point scale was a 50 point one. Wines below 60 points were in High School Grading terms ‘failing’ – they were commercially unacceptable due to a fault or other insufferable shortcoming. Wines rated 60 – 70 were capped with the Dunce’s hat and deemed below average quality, while a rating of 70 – 80 was an average wine, which was passable but possessed little distinction. Wines rated 80 – 90 were above average, or in Parker’s terms, ‘barely above average to very good’, a wine attaining a 90 – 95 rating was simply outstanding, and the elusive 95 – 100 point wine was extraordinary.
Different personalisations of Parker’s scale have evolved since then, and concomitant with wine quality improving in general, and winemaking faults being more of a rarity than a common occurrence, it’s more acceptable to see in reality an 80 – 100 point rating system (bearing in mind that anything scoring below 80 remains unreviewed).
I have adopted the modified 80 – 100 Point Rating, akin to the Wine Enthusiasts rating system as follows:
80 – 83 Acceptable quality
84 – 87 Good quality
88 – 90 Very good quality
91 – 94 Excellent quality
95 – 98 Outstanding quality
99 – 100 Out of this world brilliant quality