Personal Rating Scales

The conversation about wine reviews by trade professionals reminds me of a conversation I had some years ago about creating, or somehow quantifying, your own, personal rating scale.

If you were to grade wines, how would you do it?

I was inspired to think about this a few years ago by Simon Woods’ suggestion of ‘plant pot’ wines - see his hilarious take on an alternative scale here:

I came up with something that basically stays in my head whenever I make a PERSONAL rating of a wine:

:star: SPIT! - Whatever the circumstances, this is not to spend another second in my mouth or body
:star: :star: SUD (Swallow Under Duress) - Unless SPIT is socially acceptable at this point, swallow, but make your excuses
:star: :star: :star: DRINK - but there are so many wines available that my time and money can be better spent on other wines
[note, these could be decent wines that are simply too expensive to be worth me rating more highly]
:star: :star: :star: :star: BUY - this was good and could, and should, be happily repeated by me and others
:star: :star: :star: :star: :star: SEEK - this is so good I should immediately go find more, stock-up (first) then shout about it

There should be little nuance and argument (with yourself) about what classification to give any wine you taste. With these categories I can neatly summarise my recommendation for future behaviour. I do not need to grade it further into 20 or 100 points as there is no “BUY+” or “DRINK but only if you are really thirsty” levels.

Of course these are personal, subjective ratings that relate to my palate, my experience, my budget and my mood, so you might disagree with me, but if I were to keep a record, this is MY rating scale.

What’s yours?


Me and OH use the - admittedly rather simple - pictorial representations used by Wine Folly (I love their book because of its visuals).
It goes from Bleh, to Meh, to Yeah! to ‘Last Supper’ (with faces to match).
It’s always nice for us to hit on a ‘Last supper’ wine, but doesn’t happen often. Which is no bad thing, I guess! :smiley:

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I use a pretty arbitrary 5 star system with the added nuance of stars in brackets, for my own benefit, when I taste more wine. I would also say that the stars are inevitably in the context of the actual tasting and therefore may not be very comparable between tastings…

@Inbar I also like the wine folly book and the idea of the emoji ratings…

I have something similar; I have my geeky spreadsheet where I keep a note of wines I’ve drunk, scoring up to 5 (forgive me, I’m an accountant so Excel is my life…).

Less than 2 means I / we didn’t bother finishing the bottle - the last one to suffer this fate being a repugnant Indian wine my brother bought me for a laugh from a well known supermarket (it genuinely stunk of manure and tasted little better).

4+ means I seek it out, reserving a 5 for anything that was a genuine “wow”.

Pretty simple but useful for when I’m tracking wines bought EP so I can see how they’re progressing.

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Agree with that approach. I think there is a six star category - ‘obsess/hoard’ - those rare times something is so perfect it assumes almost mystical status. Only happened to me once. I also agree with the bracketed/half stars but not between 5 and 6.

So recently:

Fortia CNDP 2012 **(*)
Koyle Tempranillo/Mourvedre 2013 ***
Trinity Hill Gimbletts Gravels Syrah 2014 ***
Greywacke Wild Sauvignon 2014 ** ()
Ch Fonbel 2012 ****
Jaboulet Vacqueyras 2012 ****
Jaume Clos des Echalas 2010 *****

3 point scale for me.


My scale has been described as equidistant between economical and boring, but it works.

Also tasting notes a prohibited as it can confuse, and detracts from the three point scale.


I’m going to settle on this:

  • = pour it straight down the sink, burn down the host’s house and drive a stake made from a Latour vine through its ashes just to make sure it can’t rise from the dead
    ** = barely drinkable - and that only for its narcotic properties (thank the host and ask them if it was expensive)
    *** = ok (thank the host and ask them where they bought it)
    **** = good (thank the host and mean it)
    ***** = very good (thank the host and offer to wash up)
    ****** = those wines that I’ll probably never get to drink, e.g. said Latour (get very drunk and leer at the the empties in the hope that more bottles will be proffered)

Plus a numeric grade representing value for money:
1 = rip off city
2 = poor
3 = ok
4 = good
5 = vg

  • cannot have a numerical value as it’s too bad
    ** can never be above a 1

I ll finesse this further down the line


Four point scale of quality?

  1. Cooking - only consume once boiled
  2. Quaffing - perfectly acceptable day-to-day
  3. Hoarding - The good stuff, acquiring for current & future enjoyment
  4. Drooling - I wish I could afford this…



I like this. This appeals to my geeky nature.

I went for a star-based rating early on and decided straight away that one star was at the very least good enough that I’d be happy to drink it again, and that all categories of not so good (bin juice / dull / faulty / blah / meh / etc) would all just go under ‘no stars’. I wanted to focus on grades of good, along with (for the last eight years or so) a tasting note to flesh out the detail and jog the memory years later. I’d still take a note of the duffers, mind.

So mine’s something like:

One star: Good. Perhaps unmemorable, but decent.
Two stars: Very good.
Three stars: A bit of wow factor.
Four stars: Bloody brilliant.
Five stars: God-like (I think I’ve only ever given two or three wines this score, for example a De Vogüé)

Half stars are allowed. Stars in brackets for if I’m confident it’s going to get even better with time.

I like @JonM1978’s separate rating for value for money - I sometimes incorporate good/bad value into the main rating but only if it’s big news.

When I’m at a tasting I’ll make simple notes on the wines but my overall evaluation falls back to :slight_smile: :expressionless: or :frowning: Quite simply it is an indication of whether or not I would choose to buy and drink the wine. I add tasting notes in Cellartracker but more for my own reference.

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I can just about live with star ratings.

Pseudo accurate points out of 100 - no, just no. Particularly when they really start at 80, or increasingly 90. All that twaddle about a wine being 92 points but might be 93 if the moon had only been on the wane when it was harvested…is just…pseuds corner b*llocks (woops do I need to blur that out?). Started in America but has migrated. If I find myself writing any of that I need to go and wash my mouth out, preferably with a good red rhone (scoring at least 92 clearly :wink: ).


I tend to use the following scales:

Oh dear God NO - I’d never ever try it again
Acceptable - A bit like a cheap local wine you’d sometimes have on the balcony on holiday
Drinkable - Not the best wine I’ve ever had, but is at an acceptable price point and isn’t offensive to drink
Where can I buy this from? For quality wines at an affordable price that I want to drink again
Definitely not a wine to share - These wines go on the bottom row of my wine rack and are only to be shared with my Wife or very close friends!


A- Abominable
B- Beastly
C- Consumable
D -Delightful
E - Excellent
F - “Flipping” awesome

No pluses or minuses


I use a scale of 1: will I buy this wine again or not.

But as I was frequently ending up with too many yeses, I had to introduce a ‘priority system’ where all yeses would be subjected to additional filtering where I would prefer wines with longer drinking window & those that are available in greater quantities so that I can ‘marry them for longer’, because I get emotionally attached to wines very easily & miss them greatly when they are sadly no longer with us.


Reading this just shows the subjective nature of scoring systems and highlights why ratings on apps such as Vivino are next to useless. I used to hold some faith in “community” ratings until I realised that 1) they have absolutely no consistency and 2) more ratings than you might think are for the wrong wine!!

That said, personal ratings are of course quite helpful so I do use Vivino simply to track my taste and wine history. Loving some of the hilarious categories in this thread! Mine are a bit more straightforward…

I think I rate quite harshly compared to others. For example, 3* is a decent wine that I have appreciated but maybe wouldn’t search for again. 4* has given me real pleasure. 4.5* is a rare rating - I would generally buy again on sight (cash permitting) and I’ve never given a full 5*

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G - orGasmic? :thinking: :see_no_evil:


Having already given five stars to a couple of wines, I’ve already decided I will have to reserve six stars for the moment that someone kindly pours me a glass of Lafite or DRC.

The wine equivalent of turning it up to 11.


Haha, love it!

That’s my exact reason for not having given a 5… …yet!


I think you just gave your bad language a star rating…


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