Saturday, May 02, 2015

Numbers or Stars?

Rock Bridge, Michilmackinac '64

It's been awhile since I've commented on rating systems. What twigged me this time was a wine blog with the oft asked question of the 100 point rating system, "What's the difference between an '88' and an '89'? "  I say, "Ask a stupid question and you'll get a stupid answer". 1!  "What's the difference between 1 Star and 2 Stars?" 1 Star!  An answer doesn't negate either as a Rating System!

Numbers I grasp quickly  - Stars I don't. I grew up with numbers: grades on exams, miles on a map and weight on a bottle or jar. Now 750ml I understand very well. Stars came with my Birthday card and on top of a tree baring gifts. A glittering star is at the end of Snow White's (or is it Cinderella's) wand that with a 'poof' frogs are changed to Princes. So the choice between Stars or Numbers could be personal preference - perhaps even marketing inspired if the bottle jackets at the LCBO attest to anything.

Usually when the question is asked the poser doesn't explain the possibilities for the "1". He's satisfied he's stumped his audience. Any taster that uses the Wine Advocate Rating System, among others (*Ref 1), aka Robert Parker Jr.'s 100 point system, knows enough to reply "That's a stupid question!" or, if polite, move to a different table.

Using WARS the '1' could refer to any one of a wine's Colour (5), Nose (15), its Finish & Flavour (20) or cellaring (10) Potential. The numbers in brackets being the maximum value for that component. Add these to a Base of 50 for a total of 100. An example of two wines apparently the same could be B50 C5 N15 F&F18 P0 = 88  and B50 C5 N10 F&F18 P5 = 88, the first having insignificant cellaring potential and the second having a less appealing nose. What distinguishes these two wines using Stars? Abbreviated to a single quantity neither helps a buyer decide. TaDa!! Words, eg. Tasting Notes, a Vintages or LCBO description, a voice from the internet...  fill the gap. 

Bottom line: To question any Rating System without an understanding of its components is equivalent to a panzerotti without the filling!  You need the stuffing to be satisfied!  WARS has more of what I need. 

My opinion, Ww

Ref: 1
Wine Advocate Rating System 

Wine Wheel 1 
Wine Wheel 2 
Essential Wine Tasting Guide  
Wine Spider
The TS Wine Rating System

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