VALUE RATINGS / HOW I TASTE & SCORE
Dan Dawson’s professional opinion of a wine’s quality using the 100 point scale. Scroll down for How I Score.
The formula: (DDWA Score/Retail Price) * Wine Factor = The Value Rating. Value Ratings range from below 1 to 7. Higher Value Rating means a better value wine. Not into the numbers? Just look at the Value Type.
Don’t care for all the numbers and eqations? Go straight to the Value Category. This is Dan’s opinion, in English, of a wine’s overall value, as determined by the wine’s Value Rating. Value Categories, in order, are OK, Good, Very Good, Great, Awesome and Hall of Fame. The average price of wines made from this grape and region are factored in to determine its Value Category.
The Wine Factor is a Value Rating multiplier. It is used to compare all wines’ values, regardless of grape, region and price. Wine Factors range from 1 (Daily Drinkers) to 4 (Luxury Wines). The formula: (DDWA Score/Retail Price) * Wine Factor = The Value Rating
I’ve been tasting wine doing professionally since the early 90s.
I could write 10 pages on how I taste and evaluate wines. If you’d like more explanation or discussion, please contact me. My worthiness as a wine critic is a big deal, and your trust in my opinion is something a value dearly.
I don’t taste blind. In the process of evaluating, there is context to what the wine is.
Knowing the wine can alter expectations, no doubt about it. I want to speak to your expectations, should you have some, for a particular wine. The context of the wine (who, what, where, when, how much) is vital to a recommendation. And though I’m by no means impervious from expectations, I’m experienced enough in tasting to focus on what’s in my glass.
I smell and taste for quality, typicity, distinctiveness and deliciousness.
Let’s take them one at a time.
Quality. Smell, taste, texture and finish are the big 4 (sorry, color, got to make some cuts). Strength and complexity of smell and taste. Texture is one many don’t think about but it’s a big deal. Light, heavy, tannic, expansive? Length of finish, and is it different than the taste?
Typicity. Does the wine have the “normal” taste of its area? That’s typicity. If yes, great. If not, is it a good thing or bad thing?
Distinctive. Is there something that makes it different than all the wines that are trying to gain your favor for the same purpose? That’s a big one in buying for a wine shop. We would ask ourselves, “who would choose to buy this wine, and why?”
Delicious. Is it? That’s the trump question in wine evaluation, really. We all like delicious, don’t we? If you got that, the other factors take a back seat. In my world, high marks for deliciousness discount the other factors, but don’t render them meaningless.
Passing out the points.
Wine scores have been a part of my professional life since I got into the wine biz in 1992.
I read the most important wine critics’ reviews and scores, then observe the correlation between the score and customer satisfaction. Through tasting, selling and, most importantly, paying attention to customers’ preferences and purchases, I have a keen understanding of what you, wine lover, like the most. My experience and success in the wine retail business makes me uniquely qualified to assess point ratings to wines.
Remember, the written word is more important than a number.
Please read my reviews.
How I Score
I am more conservative than most critics in giving out high scores (90 and above).
I use a broader range of points for the wines I recommend than most publications. In my system, a DDWA Score of 83 is not a BAD score, and in fact is a GOOD score for a low-priced wine ($10-12 let’s say). I do this so I can utilize a broader range of points to express my opinion by numbers (which is not my preferred avenue of communication, but I understand some people like it best).
This means, generally speaking, for an equally highly regarded wine, my score will be 89 and The Wine Advocate & The Wine Spectator will score it 91-92, maybe 93 even. Vinous will score it 90, maybe 91. Going up and down the point ladder, expect the DDWA Score to be 1 to 4 points lower than other critics. It’s not that I think less of the wines: It is simply a matter of scale.
Also, I incorporate half points for an even greater spread of score possibilities.
Please read the following scoring qualifications for DDWA.
Dan Dawson’s Wine Advisor (DDWA) Scoring Guide
80-85 points. A sound, well-made, simple wine. Likely a wine showing good typicity from a wine region that offers mostly low-cost wines. Wines featured in DDWA at 80-85 are quite likely $10-$19 wines.
86-88 points. A well-made, high quality wines showing above-average character and distinctiveness with good intensity, texture and deliciousness. A lot of the best values you’ll find in DDWA will fall in the 86-88 point range.
89-91 points. 89 is the new 91 at DDWA! These wines show very good depth of flavor, texture, deliciousness and/or typicity with average complexity and uniqueness.
92-94 points. These wines show excellent deliciousness, depth of flavor, intensity and above average typicity and/or distinctiveness. Special wines. About 1 out of 20 wines I review will receive a score of 92, 93 or 94.
95-97 points. Balls-on wonderful wines. Excellent deliciousness, depth of flavor, intensity and typicity and/or distinctiveness (let’s say the wines score excellent on 4 out of those 5 criteria, with the 5th being good to very good). I estimate 1 out of 100 wines reviewed (1%) will receive a score of 95, 96 or 97.
98-100 points. Such wine scores are reserved for very few and the very best. These wines have it all. Outstanding deliciousness, depth of flavor, intensity, typically and distinctiveness. I have yet to score any wine 98, 99 or 100. I estimate 1 out of 200-250 wines reviewed will receive a 98 or higher.