How we score

Our scores

Below is a rough guide to what our numbers mean. Although we are not very comfortable with scoring wines because it is so difficult to encapsulate a wine's qualities in a single score, we do realise how useful scores are for those reading and buying (and selling) in a hurry. For the full story, see here

20 - Truly exceptional
19 - A humdinger
18 - A cut above superior
17 - Superior
16 - Distinguished
15 - Average, a perfectly nice drink with no faults but not much excitement
14 - Deadly dull
13 - Borderline faulty or unbalanced
12 - Faulty or unbalanced 

We occasionally give a '+' or even '++' to suggest that we think (but are not 100% sure) that the wine will improve, and if a score comes with a minus attached, it means that it has a drawback, usually described in the tasting note. But I'm sure these are annoying and we will try to keep them to a minimum.

As background, and for amusement, you might also like to see the comparative score sheet compiled by Steve De Long of reviewing many different scoring systems.

Our scores are for how the wine tasted when we tasted it, combined with any perceived potential. So a one-year-old first growth bordeaux is likely to be given a pretty high score, even though it may be not much fun to drink at that point (and not even bottled in fact). If we taste a wine that is obviously on the way down from its peak of maturity, the score denotes how it tasted when we tasted it and not how wonderful we imagine it might have been at its best.

Fortunately, I am confident that my fulltime assistant Julia Harding MW has a palate that is remarkably similar to mine. Richard has rather less tasting experience but his Master of Wine studies are rapidly remedying this. And I know that the rest of the team share our love of balance, eloquence, finesse and, where appropriate, ageability above sheer mass.

You might also like to see some relevant 2005 correspondence on the subject in What my scores mean in the precursor of our forum, which was called Your turn. In it I try to grapple with the fact that I do not believe there is a single objective yardstick of quality by which a Beaujolais, for example, can be measured alongside a Napa Valley Cabernet.


Here is a brief guide to some of the abbreviations you may find in our tens of thousands of tasting notes. 

Initials at the end of a tasting note denote the following tasters (you can read more about these members of the team via Team Jancis at the bottom of any page):

No initial - Jancis Robinson
JH - Julia Harding MW
RH - Richard Hemming
TC - Tamlyn Currin
WS - Walter Speller
MS - Michael Schmidt
FC - Ferran Centelles
LG - Luis Gutiérrez
AH - Alex Hunt MW
LM - Linda Murphy
MJ - Melanie Jones MW
VD - Victoria Daskal
YS - Young Shi 
PH - Paul Howard
JV - José Vouillamoz

We also use the following abbreviations: 

GV - good value 
VGV - very good value 
NHB - naughty heavy bottle!
% - percentage of alcohol by volume 
RS - residual sugar 
TA - total acidity 
VA - volatile acidity 
g/l - grams per litre 
m - metres 
hl/ha - hectolitres per hectare