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Wine Scores Part 1: Yanks vs. Brits

Few things in the wine world are without controversy.  One topic around which there is always a buzz of dissent is the 100-point scoring system.  At this point we’re inextricably tied to it, but that’s no reason not to add some of my own fuel to the fire.  I’ve had this series of essays kicking around in my head for a few years, and now seems like a great opportunity to inflict them upon you, my fellow Lot18 members—remember, I’m not just a procurement specialist, I’m also a member.

First a bit of history.  Championed by Robert Parker in the late 1970s as an alternative to the traditional 20-point system used especially by British critics, the 100-point scale is meant to be easier for consumers to relate to, as we all recall from our school days being graded similarly, with an ‘A’ being a score 90 or above, ‘B’ between 80 and 89, etc.

Parker’s 100-point system is not actually a scale from zero to 100, however, but rather from 50 to 100. And, since scores below 80 are scarcely published, in practice it is really a scale from 80 to 100, which is essentially identical to the 20 point system it was meant to replace.  So here’s the conversion formula, a bit easier than Fahrenheit-to-Celsius: Add 80 to the British 20-point scale to get your Parker score. I might add, though, that even though the two systems are essentially the same, Parker’s 100 point scale is American, so in that sense it is (jingoism alert!) better, and for this we should be grateful.  It is interesting to note that Parker takes a lot of heat for how many 98, 99, and 100 point scores he awards, but no one seems to knock the British for all their 18, 19, and 20 point scores.  Anti-Americanism at its finest.

Next time:  Where do these numbers come from anyway?

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