How We Rate Wines

Our rating system is simple, there are four basic categories: Quality wine at a bargain price, Recommended, Gold Star Recommendation, or Not recommended; two secondary categories: Pending and Split Decision that are seldom used; and our “thumbs up” Bang for the Buck rating.

For us to give it a rating of Quality wine at a bargain price it has to be one of the best value (quality/price) wines we’ve found for that grape variety. In short this is our best-of-the-best rating for wines under $15.00. When we identify wines in this category we immediately go back to the store and buy more because they are going to sell out quickly.
(See all our Quality wine at a Bargain price reviews.)

The Recommended as a buy rating is given to wines that are head-and-shoulders better than the rest and clearly are a good quality for the price. Wines in this category our what we call an “Excellent Buy”. We do use a sliding scale for this rating that weighs both quality and cost. For example, a very inexpensive wine ($9.00) that was very drinkable or a more expensive wine ($50.00) that was outstanding quality could both receive this rating, but needless to say the more expensive wine has to be significantly better in quality than the inexpensive bottle. The wines with this rating are a good value and the ones we enjoy and buy again. We taste a significant percentage of wines before we buy them. As a result, many dubious quality wines are eliminated prior to purchase and a growing number are receiving this category of rating.
(See all our Recommended reviews.)

The Gold Star Recommendation is used for wines that are special finds. These are the wines that simply blew us away when we first tasted them…they are the-best-of-the-best among all the wines we have reviewed. Some times they are expensive and sometimes they are not, but they are always MEMORABLE. We began using the Gold Star Recommendation in July 2021. (See all our Gold Star Recommendation reviews.)

Our Not Recommended rating means we didn’t think the wine was a good value for the cost and will not purchase it again. It may be a drinkable wine, but we’ve had better (of that grape variety) for much less cost, or it may simply be poor or undrinkable quality as described in the review.
(See all our Not Recommended reviews.)

Occasionally we will give a Pending rating to wines that we felt were just not paired well, needed decanting or we thought needed another tasting before we rated them. We than rate the second bottle. If the rating becomes Not Recommended we simply edit the original post; if it gets a Recommended or Quality wine at a Bargain Price rating we post a second tasting.
(See all our Pending reviews.)

We seldom disagree on whether we would recommend a wine or not; however, when this happens we list the recommendation as a Split Decision.
(See all our Split Decision reviews.)

Beginning in February 2018 we added a simple graphic (in the Synopsis, Our Opinion section of each wine review) that shows what we call the Bang for the Buck Rating. Each wine is given one to four thumbs up or a thumbs down based on our opinion of its quality to price ratio. For example, a one thumbs up would be a “not bad” ratio and a wine we would recommend, while a four thumbs up would be an “outstanding” ratio…or a FANTASTIC BUY and wine with quality way above its purchase price. The thumbs down would be a wine we wouldn’t recommend because the quality was so poor for the price. Yes, it’s a subjective rating because every wine drinkers top-end price for a bottle of wine is different and our palates vary enormously; however, it does provide a quick overview of quality/price and is probably more consistent and useful to most people at the lower end of the price range.
(See all our one thumbs up reviews.)
(See all our two thumbs up reviews.)
(See all our three thumbs up reviews.)
(See all our four thumbs up reviews.)
(See all our thumbs down reviews.)

Wine prices shown in our reviews are what we actually paid, not including state or local sales tax.

For additional information about us and where we purchase wine see About