Points: they’re possibly the most polarizing thing about wine. While many critics use the 100 point scale and many shops sell wines with flaps of paper touting the point scores, there is a backlash against points. A growing number of retailers favor staff-written “shelf-talkers” and many wine reviewing web sites–including this one–don’t use point scores in reviewing wines choosing instead the old-fashioned form of communication known as words.

While I understand what makes points popular and have to a certain extent made my peace with them, I still find them to impart a false sense of precision and objectivity while totally neglect the consuming context (e.g. “does this wine go with a my grilled asparagus?”). Moreover, once everyone starts rating wines out of 100, whom do you believe when two reviewers give the same wine different scores? I just found something that makes me want to reach for the dump bucket: Justwinepoints.com.

This apparently new web site only gives wines a point score out of 100. No words. No mention of who is the taster handing out the points. Just wine points because as their tag line reads, “because nothing else matters.” And, oh, they don’t mind sticking the producer for “added value” by charging to have a label image next to their points.

Surely this is so new and so decontextualized that nobody will care, right? Wrong. I just got an email blast from Sam’s Wine in Chicago (map it) touting the introductory vintage of a $15 sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. They turn to justwinepoints.com for the score: 99 points. But they had to add the words “lovely, rich and crisp.”

Let me give justwinepoints a review they’ll understand: 62. And the only reason that’s above failing is so that they don’t came and see me during office hours.

Related: “Are wine ratings running out of gas?” [NYT]

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10 Responses to “Pointless”

  1. Oh brother. I don’t even want to browse their site. It would only encourage them.

  2. What is different from school and university grades? Do wines need a more sophisticated grading scheme than graduate students? Are wines more complex than people? – But then: perhaps we should first upgrade the grading of people before we upgrade the grading of wines. RAEM

  3. Don’t even bother browsing… There is NOTHING about the wines other than name and score, and the occasional “added value” label reproduction.

    I sent an email to the site asking wher the numbers came from, and received a response that the ratings were done by the former tasting panel of Wine X. Which is really sad because Wine X once upon a time stood tall AGAINST the 100-point scale.

    All in all, a sad, very large step back in the enlightenment of American wine consumers.


  4. The phone number for justwinepoints.com indicates that it is a Darryl Roberts(Wine X) project. Is it tongue in cheek?

  5. Besides the arguments about the use of points themselves, the site you reference is a joke. (Though you didn’t hotlink it, I admit to visiting their website after reading this…) I’m really disappointed in Sam’s for using the “reviews” from that site for their marketing materials. I know that they’re trying to sell wine, but c’mon, have some dignity!

    You may give the justpoints site a 62, but Sam’s gets a failing grade. Shall we say 44 points?

  6. I find the grades in school slightly different than the ratings the big publishers give:
    at school you are not judge for what you are but from what you had learned in a specific subject.
    At school nobody will rate you for what you are but for what you know.
    Wine is different because it involve not only sensory qualities but also feelings emotions that can only by told and not rated.
    I wrote an article on my blog a little while ago on the subject.
    Buona Bevuta a Tutti
    Buona Bevuta a Tutti

  7. Hmm, not even a hyperlink to justwinepoints.com? How ever am I to find a 99 point Sauv. blanc?

  8. I’m not sure. I kinda like the idea! Further reinforces what all of us wine bloggers are doing. When I sold wine I once had a guy buy a case of CDP from me. A week later he returned it, w/o having opened a bottle. He said that it got a bad review, and therefore he didn’t want it. Maybe we need more sites like this for the “point chasers” of the world. 😉

  9. Let’s just hope it is a joke, as in a spoof. But if it is, why did Sam’s tout it? Too close to the truth…

  10. RE: The 100 Point Scale and college — I got a 4.0, not a “100.” Even my tests and papers came back with letter grades: A-D. Which University did you guys attend? My test scores were based on actual study materials and the same questions that everyone else got. These questions could only be answered (mainly) one way.

    College grading is much more akin to a 4- or 5-star rating system (sorry Mr. Parker) than a celsius thermometer, and, yes, wines are much like human beings if not for complexity, then certainly in their sheer diversity.

    So enough justifying this unjustifiable 100-point system with the “college” metaphor. It’s specious. Nobody’s a wine barometer. The 100-point scale came from American Bandstand, where music was rated on this same scale, and that’s why American baby-boomers understand it and feel cozy with it.

    Coca-Cola, baby. Budweiser. 100 Points. It’s got a great beat and I like the melody; I give it a 92, Dick.

    Harvard, my behind.


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