Maurie’s Rating System
Maurie’s rating system (a practical simplification)
Pliny the Elder wrote the history of the Roman Empire around 70 A.D. He might well have been the first known wine critic as he rated 121 B.C. as a vintage “of the highest excellence.” And this is based his tasting of a wine that was 200 years old! Little would he have imagined of the many highly developed scoring and rating systems that cover tens of thousands of wines by expert tasters and critics of today.
One of the more common methods is to score wines on a scale of 100. It was popularized by Robert Parker, one of the leading authorities on wine ratings. Only the most exceptional make it into the 90’s. I like the logic of this method but offer the following simplification:
Point Scale Description L’chaim
80 Good 8
85 Very Good 8+
90 Excellent 9
95 Outstanding 9+
If I have not rated a wine it is typically either because:
1. I have not tried it personally or
2. I have tried it and don’t feel deserves a score of 80 or more.
My criteria for good to outstanding!
8 It is a good wine with no obvious flaws. It is not musty, overly bitter or out of balance. It is generally agreeable and drinkable.
Note: The above is my lowest rating. If a wine does not meet these criteria I will not rate it.
8+ The texture, color and other attributes are true to its varietal character or style. If it is a red wine, there is enough fruit acid to balance the tannin. It is quite pleasant and enjoyable.
9 It’s not as simple. It has more depth and interest. The more you taste the more you can appreciate layers or dimensions of sensory complexity. A lot is happening. It’s “big” concentrated or saturated with aroma and flavor. It gets even better as it sits in the glass. If it is a red wine, it may make your mouth feel dry and salivate at the same time.
9+ Wow! All the attributes are in balance and harmony to create an appreciation that is like a complex symphony, distinctive, uniquely pleasant, rare, special, and truly memorable. Flavors stretch back further on tongue and linger long after swallowing (finish).
"The best kind of wine is that which is most pleasant to him who drinks it". ~ Pliny the Elder
I am a strong proponent of the principal:
Good wine is wine you like!
Just because I think a wine tastes like grape soda with an attitude that does not mean it can’t be enjoyed, preferably well chilled as a refreshing beverage or “party wine”. I rarely disparage a wine unless it has a significant “fault”.
Many studies confirm that wine appreciation is a personal experience that can be influenced by many factors including the company, the food, the ambiance, personal tastes as well as a variety of acquired differentiation skills (palate). It can vary and can be influenced based on a variety of variables including advance perceptions.
If you want comprehensive list of ratings for wines there are many good sources, like Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast or Wine Advocate.
Daniel Rogov is perhaps the leading critic and champion of Israeli wine today. His annual “Guide to Israeli Wines” will score and describe his impressions of the current kosher and non-kosher offering of wines from Israel.