Here’s the score

Looking for ratings? You’ve come to the wrong place. I never use them in print, nor in whatever this is called.

But I use them. I parcel out a number (and a few notes) to virtually every wine I sample. I’m even tasting and rating wines as I write this (my kind of multi-tasking!).

Now inputting info on a couple hundred wines every month is a serous pain in the patootie, and a lot of friends, even in the trade, wonder why I bother.

The main reason by far: because it helps me convey useful information to you. I can and do choose my wines of the week for this site, and for the Star Tribune, from the scores and notes I take. (I’ll also be using them for upcoming “recommendations” posts of varietals or regions.) These assessments also give me a better feel for what’s out there in general, what’s happening with different grapes and brands.

I use a 5.0-10.0 scale, the same as many popular scoring systems but divided by 10. Not sure how I landed there, except that it’s the parameters I found when I came to wine, and the decimal, well that’s probably to be a wee bit different from Robert Parker, James Laube (left) et al.

I diverge from those guys with a varietal “curve.” Kermit Lynch put it this way when we talked: “Here’s this Muscadet, it’s flawless, it’s perfect. That’s a 100-pointer. It’s not a Meursault, but it’s perfect.” So I grade wines with a varietal or regional context, rather than a “global” context.

I also use a two-tier system for wines under $20, with a regular score and then a higher number withe an e appended to take into account economic value. The $12 Banfi “Centine” white blend recently touted here was rated 8.9/9.2e; if it had been $17, the second number would have been lower, if it was $8, higher.

Ratings haters often say, “How can anyone just assign a number to something that has so many facets?” A legitimate question, that. The snarky answer: Because I can. The real answer: Because with all the wine I sample, I need something that will help me gauge what to recommend, what to write about.

The followup question is usually “how can you tell the difference between an 89-point wine and a 90-point wines?” Well I don’t worry so much about that, because my scores aren’t published, aren’t used by wineries or retailer and never will be.

The more I’ve done this, the easier it has become Almost always, within a minute of jotting down a few tasting notes, a score will pop into my head that feels right, usually even more so on second thought. I have recently started giving less thought to the score for anything that is mediocre or bad, since I won’t be writing about it. But again, a number usually pings in readily while I’m not enjoying the finish.

Basically, it’s the least imperfect way I know to do this. Suggestions welcome.

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