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Hand-selected wines from 500+
Australian wineries delivered to your door!

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Wine

So, what do wine ratings actually mean

With Trophies, Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals, not to mention points out of 100, it’s easy to be bamboozled by wine ratings. Find out how they’re scored and what they actually mean.

Wine Selectors Tasting Panellist and wine show judge, Adam Walls, explores what it takes be a champion wine.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN 20-POINT WINE SHOW SYSTEM

At Wine Selectors our expert Tasting Panel uses the Australian wine show judging system.

All wines are tasted ‘blind’, meaning the Tasting Panel knows what variety and vintage they are tasting but not the label, brand, region, winemaker, or producer.

The Australian wine show circuit uses the 20-point system, awarding points out of three for appearance, seven for the nose and 10 for the palate. Scores are then added and medals awarded for Bronze, Silver, and Gold as follows:

Gold: 18.5 to 20 – an exceptional wine

Silver: 17 to 18 – an extremely good wine

Bronze: 15. 5 to 16.5 – a good wine

At Wine Selectors each Panel Tasting is made up of three Panel Members and one Chairman. The final score each wine receives is the average of the four judges, and only wines receiving a minimum of a Bronze are accepted by the Panel.

THE 100-POINTS WINE RATING SYSTEM

Some wine critics use the 100-point system, especially in the USA, where Robert Parker and Wine Spectator use this method. Scoring for this system is as follows:

100 – 95 is equivalent to a Gold medal

94 – 90 is equivalent to a Silver medal

89 – 85 is equivalent to a Bronze medal.

In Australia, the 100-point system is used by a number of wine writers like Rob Geddes and James Halliday, however, James Halliday’s system ranges from 75 to 100.

A number of other wine publications also use the five-star rating system like Winestate where 5 stars is a Gold medal, 4 stars is a Silver and 3 stars is a Bronze.

With regards to a Trophy, this is the very best of all the Gold medal wines within a ‘class’ (or category), as judged at a wine show, however, sometimes a Trophy is not awarded.

WHY WE USE THE AUSTRALIAN 20-POINT WINE SHOW SYSTEM

While these rating systems can be a little confusing and no one system it better than the other, their aim is the same, to reflect the quality of the wine.

At Wine Selectors we use the 20-point Australian wine show judging system which hails from Europe and the UK, and is used by the world’s most reputable wine writer and critic, Janis Robinson MW (Master of Wine). Historically, it is the system Australian wine has been judged by and for our Panellists, it ensures a reliable result. You can be assured at Wine Selectors that of the thousands of wines our Panel tastes every year, (in fact the Panel tasted over 3, 500 wines in 2016), only the very best get through the rigorous selection process.

Our Tasting Panel of perceptive personalities and palates comprises winemakers, international wine show judges, and wine educators. With an amazing 120 years collective experience in the wine industry, they are extremely knowledgeable. Most importantly, all of them have spent more years than they’d care to admit enjoying wine themselves! With an age range spanning 50 years, our Tasting Panel is very much in tune with the palates and requirements of all Australian wine lovers. Here’s cheers to that!

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Preserving the truth on sulphates in wine
Recently, one of our members, Penny Bamford, got in touch to ask about preservative 220, which you might have seen listed on the back label of bottle of wine. She wanted to know whether it can cause allergic reactions and whether it’s used in organic and biodynamic wine. Tasting Panellist Dave Mavor came to the rescue with an explanation. The main preservative used in wine is sulphur dioxide, which you’ll see on the label as ‘preservative 220’, ‘minimal sulphur dioxide added’ or ‘contains sulphites’. Sulphur dioxide is added in the winemaking process to protect the wine from oxidation and bacterial spoilage. I can tell you that the sulphur dioxide used in winemaking is less than many other products (e.g., dried fruits, some beer, meat, etc.) that we consume every day. It has been used as a preservative in wine since Roman times. And don’t be fooled into thinking that because preservatives aren’t listed on European wines that they’re not present, it’s just that they don’t have the same strict labelling laws as Australia. The amount of sulphur dioxide winemakers are allowed to add is strictly controlled to a limit of 250 milligrams per litre. With such low levels it is unlikely to cause any health issues, however, some people feel they are quite sensitive to it. If that is you, here are some tips: There tends to be higher levels of sulphur dioxide added to white wines as they are more susceptible to oxidation, whereas the tannins in red wines act as a natural preservative. If you have symptoms from drinking red wine, it’s more likely to be from the histamines. Age also affects the sulphur dioxide levels in a wine, as it dissipates over time, so if you’re sensitive to sulphur dioxide, go for older wines. There is less sulphur dioxide used in organic and biodynamic wines. Certification allows 50 per cent of what can be used under conventional standards. Preservative-free wines don’t have sulphur dioxide added, however, it can also be a natural product of fermentation and is therefore often present even if it hasn’t been deliberately added. Also, without added preservatives, the wine will be very susceptible to spoilage by oxidation, so it needs to be consumed straightaway – which is not a bad thing. You might have noticed the recent emergence of products that claim to remove the sulphur dioxide from your wine. Dave explains that these are simply made up of diluted hydrogen peroxide. While this is a chemical sometimes used in the winery when too much sulphur has been accidently added to a wine, it’s extremely controlled by winemakers with a thorough understanding of the chemical process. Remember that if you add too much hydrogen peroxide to a wine it will go off and you will have spoilt all the winemaker’s hard work!
Wine
The 10 Biggest Wine Myths
‘All wine gets better with age’, ‘The more expensive the wine, the better it tastes’, ‘The French invented Champagne’ – can you tell myth from fact? Discover the truth on the 10 biggest wine myths   Myth 1: All wine gets better with age
Fact: A lot of wine in Australia is made to drink within 12-18 months. There’s a real trend at the moment, especially with reds, for winemakers to craft young, fresh wines to drink immediately rather than to age. You can still find wines that are made to age for decades, with Hunter Valley Semillon and Australian Shiraz being great examples.     Myth 2: Bottles of wine sealed with a cork are better than those with a screw-cap
​ Fact: In a perfect world, the perfect cork is the perfect closure, but in reality, perfect corks are extremely rare. Screw-caps eliminate many of the problems that can come with corks such as cork taint, oxidation and leakage and give the wine-lover confidence they’re getting quality and consistency. Find out more about corks vs screw caps here .   Myth 3: The more expensive the wine, the better it tastes
​ Fact: One of the joys of wine is that it comes down to personal taste. How much a wine sells for can indicate the quality of grapes and how expensive the winemaking process was. However, a lot of wine pricing is driven by economics and supply and demand, but this will never guarantee that a $500 bottle will taste five times better than a $100 one.   Myth 4: Blended wines are inferior
​ Fact: This myth has been driven by Australia’s insatiable thirst for single variety wines. However, one of the ironies of this is that some of Australia’s greatest wines ever made were blends. In fact, one of the most famous blended wines in the world is Champagne . Blended wines are a classic case of the end product being greater than the sum of its parts.    Myth 5: The French invented Champagne
​ Fact: It is argued that English scientist and physician Christopher Merret invented Champagne in the 17 th century when he added sugar to a finished wine to create a secondary fermentation.   Myth 6: Red wine with meat, white wine with fish
​ Fact: This is not a myth in that generally, the high tannins in red wine are a delicious complement for the fat in red meat, and the acidity in white wine gives brightness to a match of chicken or fish. However, it’s not a hard and fast rule. For example, you can pair red wine with fish; the secret is matching weight with weight. If salmon is poached, it will be silky, therefore a Rosé or Pinot Noir can work, while roasted salmon/ barra might pair well with a bolder red. Sauce is another factor, a creamy sauce screams for white wine, but a spicy red sauce or mustard sauce could work well with Sangiovese or even cool climate Shiraz !   Myth 7: A heavier bottle equals higher quality
​ Fact: Bottles with thicker glass are pricier because there is a higher investment in the packaging process, but it says nothing about the wine quality.   Myth 8: The correct serving temperature for red wine is “room temperature”
​ Fact: The ideal temperature to serve red wine is 14-18ºC. Serving it too cold will dull the aromas and ultimately the flavours in full-bodied red wine. Room temperature in Australia during the peak of summer may be anywhere from 25–35ºC, so don’t be afraid to pop your favourite red wine in the fridge for half an hour before your barbeque, unless, of course, it’s come from a temperature controlled environment. Learn more about how to store wine at home here .   Myth 9: An expensive decanter is the only way to decant wine
​ Fact: You can decant wine in any clean vessel such as a vase, a saucepan or a teapot. The process is simply to bring the wine into contact with oxygen to really bring out the aromas and flavours and help it to breathe. A stylish decanter obviously looks beautiful, though, and adds to the theatre of wine enjoyment. Learn more about how and when to use a wine decanter here.   Myth 10: If a wine smells and tastes like a particular fruit, it has been made with the addition of that fruit
​ Fact: The only fruit wine is made from is grapes. The other aromas and flavours you might detect are the result of aroma and flavour molecules that a grape shares in common with a particular fruit. For example, Cabernet grapes contain the same flavour molecules as blackcurrants, and Sauvignon Blanc has the same molecules as those found in green vegetables.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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