To assess or appraise a wine, we use four of our five senses: sight, smell, taste and feel (texture).
When scoring wines, judges and critics can use a star rating (for example from one to five stars), points or as in Wine Shows, medal rating using a points-based system.
Glassware is important when it comes to appraising wine. Glasses should be clear and a short pour of around 30ml is usually enough to taste and assess the wine. You should hold the glass by the stem rather than the bowl of the glass for clear vision and to ensure that the warmth from your hands doesn’t alter the temperature of the wine.
Scoring a Wine out of 20 Points
This example shows the weighting given to the three factors used in judging a wine – sight, smell and taste. Some critics may rate a wine out of 100 points; regardless of the number being used for the highest score, this ratio can be applied to achieve the same outcome.
Sight/Appearance - 3 points
To assess a wine’s appearance, tilt the glass against a white background. Look for differences in colour between the core and the rim. As wine ages it slowly turns brown in colour, with young whites starting green and red wines starting their life purple/crimson.
Smell/Nose – 7 points
Before you smell the wine, swirl it around in the glass to release the aromas. Smell the wine with 2-3 quick full sniffs. The aroma should be clean and fresh and if the wine is young you should be able to smell the characteristic scents associated with the grape variety.
For example, Riesling smells of citrus fruit, Chardonnay often smells like peaches and melons, Shiraz may smell of blackberries and spice, while Cabernet Sauvignon can smell like blackcurrants and dried herbs. Make a written or mental note of the smells and take notes of your assessment of the wine’s aroma and bouquet.
Taste/Palate – 10 points
Take a sip, then, without swallowing, suck air through and over the wine, swirl it around to cover the inside of mouth. Spitting the wine is recommended if you’re tasting a number of wines in one session.
Taste tip: If tasting several wines place and taste them in a logical and orderly fashion. Whites before reds, dry wines before sweet, light-bodied before full-bodied. Wine in formal tastings is always tasted from left to right.
How Wines Show Judges Score Wines
Wine Show Judges score each wine out of 20 points, comprising of:
3 points for sight – clarity, depth, intensity. Wines generally always receive a score of ‘3’ for colour unless they’re faulty (cloudy or hazy).
7 points for nose – initial aroma, bouquet, fruit character.
10 points for palate – flavour, complexity, balance and length.
Wine Show Medal Judging
Wine Show medals are awarded according to the following scores:
Gold-medal: 18.5–20.0 points
Silver-medal: 17.0–18.4 points
Bronze-medal: 15.5–16.9 points
Very good wine for its class
Remember that wine tasting is subjective and each taster is different. And one final tip, a Gold medal-winning wine may be stylistically and technically correct, but if you don’t like the style as a rule, then you may not like the wine regardless of the score. Get to know your own palate, because you’re the only judge that really counts.
- Wine Shows
- Wine Judging
- Rating Wine