(grades - an explanation)

What is this?

A searchable database of wine descriptions.

How does it work?

Type words in this box:

or into the search engine above and make sure "Grades" is selected. You can search by year, region, winery name, or flavor. So if you want to pull up all the wines from 2005 that have a blackberry flavor or aroma to them, type: 2005 blackberry.

All aromas and flavors are singular (so type "cherry", not "cherries").

For the time being, 3-letter words or less won't come up, so don't search for "oak". If the winery name is less than 3 letters (like the wine "Bad Boy" from Bordeaux) try taking out the spaces to see if we have it in the database: "BadBoy".

The results come up in the order they were tasted, most recent first. You can resort them by vintage, alphabetically, pure grade or value grade by clicking on that category at the top of the results.

How does a wine get scored and wtf is a Value Grade?

Pure GradeValue Grade
96-100: Outstanding quality wineA- to A+: Can't beat this wine for the price
90-95: Very high quality wineB- to B+: Worth just about every penny
86-89: Good to High quality wineC+: You get a little more than you pay for
80-85: Decent quality wineC: You get exactly what you pay for, no more, no less
70-79: Adequate, not complexD- to C-: Your money is better spent elsewhere
60-69: Some minor flaws, not pleasingF: Drink a beer instead
Below 60: Major flaws, not drinkable

First and foremost, I make tasting notes for me. I am always looking for a better bottle, a richer wine, a better value. There is so much out there that I can't hope to keep it all straight by memory. The written notes are the most important part of wine's overall grade, but for easier references I do also score wines with both a "Pure Grade" and "Value Grade".

A 100-point scale is commonly used now by many major publications, and with good reason: we all got graded in school, and it is easy to see that a 93 point wine is better than an 87 point wine. But where does that really leave you? So a wine got 87 points. Does that mean you shouldn't drink it? And with so many wines are grouped in the 88-93 point range: how do you choose?

Value is incredibly important. How can you get the most wine for your dollar?

To help answer this question, I give every wine two scores. The first is based off the 100-point scale, which is very user friendly. I am rather critical when tasting wines in an effort to avoid creating a glut of wines in the 90 point range. Underestimating a wine is less disastrous than overstating its quality. For this reason I tend to be a bit more conservative in my scoring than many of the current major publications. I try to use the entire range of the 100-point scale, but as in school anything under 60 points is a failing grade, so I don't bother getting specific with those numbers.

This numerical score is a strict reference to the quality of the wine, regardless of price. I base this score on the following criteria: color and general appearance; aroma and bouquet; flavor and finish; overall quality of the wine.

This score is meant as a guideline, and only references the quality that one particular bottle of wine showed on one particular day. The description of the wine is always much more important than the score.

The second score I give a wine is the Value Score. This rating is even more subjective. I assign each wine a score based on the value it presents to a consumer for the average retail price of the bottle at the time I publish the grade. This score is represented in the form of a letter grade from 'A+' being the highest, to 'F' being the lowest. To sum it all up, an 88 point Napa Cabernet that costs $120.00 may get a 'B', while an 88 point Napa Cabernet that costs $11.00 may get an 'A'.

I leave you with this final thought:
All wine grading is subjective, and individual preferences will always exist. The best way to learn is to get a bottle, drink it with friends, and talk about what you do and don't like about it!

-Mike Supple