I've had a few discussions with people recently regarding scores. One local winemaker commented that I just describe the wines, I don't make recommendations as to whether they are good or bad. So I've decided to change that. But how?
The most popular rating metric is of course the 100 point system. My personal view is that it was an interesting idea, but it's failed miserably. We can talk details some other time, but when you read tasting notes that say "Unpleasant, borderline undrinkable. 87 points" you can see that there's a problem. Wes Barton summed it up best; it's no longer a 100 point scale, it's a 5 point scale. Just subtract 89 from everyone's score.
Another option is the system that competitions use, of Bronze, Silver and Gold. In that system, Bronze equates a score of 80-84 ("Good") on the 100 point scale. Silver is 85-90 ("Very Good to Excellent") and 90+ is Gold ("Outstanding to Extraordinary"). What I find interesting about that system is that a winery who would scarcely admit they got an 81 score from any major publication will announce their Bronze medal with pride. I think the reason for that is because people equate a Bronze medal with third pace.
I was toying with the idea of adopting a 3 or 5 point scale, but then I realised that ratings come down to two simple questions: Would I buy it, and do I think it represents good value for money? This is a system that is used by Rusty Gaffney in the Pinot File, among others. So from now on I plan to note special wines as Recommended or Value - or both. No fancy icons, for now at least, and we'll see how it goes. Would this be helpful to you as a reader and wine buyer?
As ever, your comments are appreciated.