The beauty of this system is that each wine region is the sole jurisdiction of one Editor who has, after much time and grueling research, developed an expertise in that region's offerings. During a tasting, other editors are on hand and can certainly offer opinions, but the final say is had by that main Editor.
All tastings are conducted "blind." Tasters are told only the general type of wine (varietal or region) and the vintage. If a wine tastes corky or flawed in a major way, or if it scores below 70, a new bottle of the same wine is tasted again. By the same token, wines that score very highly are re-tasted to confirm such favorable first impressions.
European wines are tasted in the districts that yield them, where fresher, perfectly stored examples will be readily available. Ratings are based on how good a wine will be when it reaches its peak, regardless of how soon that will be. If barrel samples are being rated rather than finished wines, that is revealed, since a world of difference can exist between these two stages of a wine's life.
Following is Wine Spectator's 100-Point Scale and what it indicates:
- 95-100 — Classic; a great wine
- 90-94 — Outstanding; superior character and style
- 80-89 — Good to very good; wine with special qualities
- 70-79 — Average; drinkable wine that may have minor flaws
- 60-69 — Below average; drinkable but not recommended
- 50-59 — Poor; undrinkable, not recommended
Robert Parker is a renowned wine critic and publisher of Wine Advocate. He was made a Chevalier (one of France's two presidential honors) in 1993 to honor his work. Wine Advocate is a well-established source for wine consumers worldwide. To generate ratings, Parker spends three months each year tasting in vineyards. He devotes the other nine months of the year solely to tasting and writing. The ratings, which are based on a 50-100 point quality scale, reflect his independent, very critical look at wine.
Tastings are conducted in peer group, single-blind c