Since when do we give wine a score in hundredths, today the most widespread in the world? Here's everything you need to know about evaluating wines: from Grandi Crus Classés to Parker Points.
Let's see how the evaluation of wine in cents works, which is by far the most widespread in the world.
From Grandi Crus Classés to Parker Points
The most widespread wine scoring system in the world is the one developed by the American wine critic Robert Parker (born 1947). These are "Parker Points". However, the idea of scoring wines has been around longer and several people have contributed to its evolution.
In Europe, the wine scoring system has been used since the 19th century, when competitions were organized to evaluate wines and award them medals. In France, in 1855 , the "Classification des Grands Crus Classés" was created, which classified the best Bordeaux wines into five categories, from Premier Cru to Cinquième Cru: a classification desired by Napoleon III which is still almost unchanged today.
Read also: Napoleon III's wine marketing
In the 1970s , French wine critic Michel Bettane (born 1952) began using a 20-point scoring system to rate wines in his reviews.
Robert Parker, however, introduced his 100-point scoring system at the end of the Seventies, an evaluation based on certain aspects of the wine such as colour, aroma, flavour, structure and evolutionary capacity.
What was Parker's role?
Parker's wine rating system quickly became the most widespread in the world and has profoundly influenced wine critics and wine competitions around the world.
Parker is credited with having introduced and popularized a wine classification system in cents, which classifies wine on a scale of up to 100 , based on appearance, clearly identified characteristics such as color, aroma, flavor and aging potential.
Not having a classical education on wine, Parker felt the need to describe wine using simple and direct writing , different from that then in use in the wine world.
What other wine scores exist today?
- The wine rating system of Jancis Robinson , one of the most influential British wine critics in the world. It has developed its own wine rating system (Jancis Robinson Points). The system provides a 20 point scale.
- Wine rating system from Wine Spectator, an American magazine with its own wine rating system. The scale is based on 100 .
- Wine rating system by James Suckling , an American wine critic who developed his own wine rating system: a 100-point scale and evaluates wine on aspects such as color, aroma, flavor and structure.
- Wine rating system from Decanter , a British magazine whose rating system is based on a 20-point scale.
- Gambero Rosso wine rating system, an Italian magazine founded by Daniele Cernilli, who developed his own 3-glass wine rating system.
- Wine rating system from Guía Peñín , a Spanish wine guide with its own 100-based rating system.
How do Parker Points work?
The scale actually starts (in fact) from 50 and goes up to 100 .
Here's how to interpret the rating of a bottle:
- 50-59 : undrinkable wine
- 60-69 : imperfect but drinkable
- 70-79 : mediocre, correct, not interesting
- 80-89 : range from above average to very good
- 90-95 : excellent
- 96-100 : exceptional
Parker awarded 100/100 to several wines, including the 1989 Château Haut-Brion (Bordeaux) and the 2010 Sine Qua Non Syrah (California).
But who really is Robert Parker?
A lawyer from Baltimore who becomes a huge name in wine, earning the nickname "Emperor of Wine" and then "The Million Dollar Nose". Parker's goal was to reach the many Americans intimidated by wine, with financial resources but great difficulty understanding which bottles to buy.
It does so with The Wine Advocate , a magazine with its reviews first published in 1978 (then published under the name Baltimore-Washington Wine Advocate ) and a 100-based scoring system similar to that of schools – therefore understandable to everyone .
When is the turning point for Parker?
Parker's fortune exploded when he predicted, with controversy because he went against the trend of other critics, the great quality of the 1982 Bordeaux vintage .
In a short time the cards get messed up, and it is no longer he who evaluates the wine, but it is the wine that tends to adapt to please him, for example approaching, regardless of the area, Parker's idea of power , structure , use of wood and importance of intensely fruity aromas .
What are the numbers of The Wine Advocate?
The magazine soon had great success: in a short time it reached 50,000 copies published.
Parker said he tastes 10,000 wines every year and remembers every bottle he has tasted over the past 30 years. With these numbers, we reach around 350,000 tastings in 25 years of activity.
Why was Parker criticized?
Parker has also received much criticism for the influence on wines that many believe he has had over the years, effectively changing the market and the wine production system. Those who oppose him have called for a return to the specificity and diversity of the various terroirs. Now he has retired, but it is impossible to deny the importance of the "Parker points" on the market: this is confirmed by the growth in price of the wines with the highest scores and the great visibility of his reviews on countless wine sales sites.
Parker sold a majority stake in his magazine to a group of Singaporean investors in 2012. He later continued to work for the magazine as a wine critic. He retired in 2019.