On Rating a Beverage

The Wines and Spirits Education Trust has a tightly structured method for writing a description of a wine, with certain observations being mandatory, and a rather limited permitted vocabulary (limited for good reason, it seems to me).

The conclusion of a WSET tasting note should include an overall rating. The options are:

  • Faulty
  • Poor
  • Acceptable
  • Good
  • Very Good
  • Outstanding

And that's good enough for me. (Although I do tend to forget, and use Excellent as a synonym for Very Good, and Superb instead of Outstanding)

Historical Note
A long time ago, from about 2004 to 2007, I used a 20 point scale - an arbitrary choice, as much to do with my preference for Robinson over Parker as with anything rational. I stopped doing that because I realised I was only really scoring in the range 12 to 18 (despite having opportunities to taste Outstanding wines such as this Mouton-Rothschild vertical), and because I had started keeping tasting notes much more systematically, and with the WSET approach in my mind.

For a further five years or so, I used a numerical version of the WSET scale, with 0 = Faulty on up to 5 = Outstanding. Indeed, I still use that shorthand when notetaking, along with other handy abbreviations like cbl (Clear, bright, has legs; pretty much any non-faulty wine is cbl) and itf (in the finish).

The latest iteration of my ratings avoids numbers, because I've come to feel that they give a spurious accuracy and definiteness, when in reality our perception of taste can vary enormously depending on circumstance.

This evolving approach means the blog will appear rather inconsistent to the careful reader. I am going through it removing numerical ratings, but only sporadically. Sorry.

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