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What does it mean when a wine has Parker points?

24/05/2023 Breaking news , Winemaking

If you’re a wine enthusiast, you’ve probably heard about Parker points. This classification, created by the U.S. wine critic Robert Parker, founder of the prestigious wine publication The Wine Advocate became a benchmark for many consumers and wine producers around the world. 

But what are Parker points and why are they so important?

Let’s find out.

Parker points are scores awarded to a wine by The Wine Advocate’s team of tasters, based on a sensory evaluation where wines that score higher are considered to be of higher quality, regardless of their price or origin.

In the beginning, forty years ago, it was Robert Parker himself who tasted and rated the wines. From then until now, the wine world has grown and developed considerably, so now there are 12 experienced tasters who specialise in different wine regions and follow a strict ethical code, and taste and score more than 30,000 wines a year. They travel from New Zealand to California, passing through Chile and Burgundy, and write reviews and detailed reports that help us to better understand and enjoy the unique features of each wine region and each vintage.

How are the wines rated?

The rating system created by Robert Parker sets a quality scale of 100 points, although wines are rated from 50 to 100 points. For Robert Parker, this scoring scale allows for greater flexibility and accuracy and avoids inflated scores. 

The Wine Advocate’s specialist tasters apply such strict criteria when rating a wine that they can have a tendency to undervalue a wine. These scores are complemented by tasting notes and reports on the wine regions they come from, which give us the full picture of a wine at the time it was tasted. This score places the quality of a wine in relation to others of its style, region or grape variety.

Here is an explanation of what each score range means:

96-100 points:

These are extraordinary, deep and complex wines, with all the attributes expected of a wine in their class. True gems that are worth making the effort to find and buy.

90 - 95 points:

This score is given to outstanding wines. Wines with complexity and character that reveal a magnificent quality.

80 - 89 points:

Good wines, with no defects, showing touches of finesse, but barely above average. 

70 - 79 points:

Wines that don’t stand out from the rest, but which are awarded for their good winemaking. Simple wines with a low level of complexity.

60 - 69 points:

Wines that haven’t achieved an average rating due to their imbalance. These wines will have deficiencies like high acidity and tannins, low flavour or unclean aromas or flavours.

50 - 59 points:

Wines with organoleptic characteristics considered unacceptable.

Why are Parker points important for a wine?

The importance of Parker points lies in the fact that, thanks to the trust they have gained over time among wine lovers, they are a guide that helps consumers decide what to buy.

Parker points can be used by winemakers to promote their wines. High scores can increase the demand for a wine and therefore also its price.

On the other hand, and as expected, there is also criticism of Parker’s scoring system. Some claim that the scale is not accurate enough and that there may be a lack of objectivity in the evaluations. It has also been said that the scores rewarded powerful wines or that winemakers sacrificed the personality of their wines to make them closer to the profile that scored best in The Wine Advocate.

It is possible to compare wines with great scores where we will find all different profiles: from powerful and full-bodied wines to the most subtle and light ones.

In conclusion, Parker points are a score used to evaluate the quality of a wine, based on the sensory evaluation carried out by Robert Parker’s specialist team of tasters. These scores have become an important reference in the wine world. Although there are criticisms about their accuracy and objectivity, fortunately there are other specialist guides and highly trusted critics that help us to compare information and decide.

If you are a wine lover, Parker points can be useful as a general guide, but it is always important to trust your preferences and explore new wines to discover your own favourites.