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What Makes a Wine 90+

The 100-point wine rating system has become the benchmark of quality wine in the industry. But where did it come from? And who decides the ratings? In order to make the most out of this rating system let us give you a bit of background information.

What Makes a Wine 90+

Who Made the 100-Point Rating System?

Robert M. Parker spent 10 years working as a lawyer before he made a huge career jump into wine writing in 1984. He started the Wine Advocate newsletter which steadily grew and soon became the standard reference for fine-wine drinkers in the United States.

By 2006 Parker had chosen a group of staff to cover the majority of the world’s wine regions and generate wine scores for each of the wines they sampled. Today, a 100-point Parker score can make or break a wine brand.

How are the Points Awarded?

This is where the scores can be a bit misleading. The points don’t necessarily mean that the bottle is rated as a 90+ point wine in terms of tastiness. Instead they are based on production quality and typicity. Typicity means how well the wine reflects the traits of the style and region it is from. 

The 100 Point Scale

The scale starts at 50 points, and many critics, raters and connoisseurs will never bother to try a wine below 80.

  • 50-59 point wines are ‘flawed and undrinkable’, definitely not recommended. 
  • 60-69 wines are flawed and not recommended, but are drinkable. End of the night bottles perhaps?
  • 70-79 wines are flawed and taste average. 
  • 80-84 wines are ‘above average’ or even ‘good’
  • 85-90 wines are ‘good’ or ‘very good’

(Now we get to the important part).

  • 90-94 wines are superior and exceptional
  • 95-100 wines are benchmark examples, or classics.

Things to Bear in Mind

The average bell curve for wine is around the 87-89 point mark, so you may not find it easy to consistently drink 90+ point wine.

Also, you should be aware that wine critics start to bicker when it gets to the 90+ point wine range. Some critics prefer a 90+ point wine to be complex and bold, others prefer it to be complex at subtle. So the rating depends on their personal preferences, which means it isn't totally impartial.