After having been a Vivino user for few years I had been thinking about how I used the 5 star (9 step) scale to rate wines there. In my earliest days I tended to rate wines with 2.5-3.0 as my go to average thinking that’s where the middle of the scale is. Yet, I recall a few surprised faces and received a couple of distraught comments to the effect that I was a brutal rater. Maybe so.

There was an analysis done on how Vivino ratings in general compared to some of the best known wine critics in the world. The main takeaway is that 3.6 is the global average (aggregated on all types of wine), and that a 4.0 is at the 85th percentile and roughly corresponds to about 90 points on the critics favorite 100 point scale. It’s worth nothing that while the 100 point scale does indeed go from 50 to a 100, in practice it is much closer to a 15 or 20 step scale as most wines are scoring between 85 and 100, with only some clunkers going below 80. The saying goes that those wines are in your supermarket shelf and don’t get much attention from the critics.

In order to try and gain some consistency for myself and perhaps align myself slightly better with the general population of wine raters on Vivino I came up with my own description of the 9 step scale.

My Vivino Rating Scale

  • 1.0 - Terrible: not a wine anymore if ever.
  • 1.5 - Broken: Spoiled, corked or otherwise broken wine. The wine might normally be fine, but this one wasn’t.
  • 2.0 - Flawed: Tastes like a wine but has one or more significant flaws without being considered broken.
  • 2.5 - Dull: The rather boring end of the wine spectrum, wine might be below average or just not enjoyable to drink without any obvious flaws.
  • 3.0 - Fair: A stable and decidedly average wine, it may serve a meal well and still be enjoyable as such.
  • 3.5 - Good: A good wine, fair for the price, and enjoyable without inspiring any particular favorite.
  • 4.0 - High quality: Very well produced wine, with obvious and notable quality and value.
  • 4.5 - Extraordinary: An inspiring wine offering delight and wonder.
  • 5.0 - Perfect: The perfect wine infused with the perfect moment.

Not sure if that will make a big difference to me or anyone, but having the guide is a handy reminder on how I would like to rank the wines I drink.

Most notably I find that any rating I give will most likely come with a 0.5 star margin of error. That should be interpreted that I could have the same wine on a different day (reasonably close) and yet rate it differently depending on random circumstancial factors such as mood or whatever is on my tongue that day.

Being cognizant of the considerable impact this can have on my rating, I have specifically included that in the top two steps. I would say that I can’t really differenciate the quality of a wine I might rate 4.5 or 5 stars, rather I differentiate on the feeling at the occasion of it’s consumption:

Thus a 5.0 star wine will most likely become or already be a happy memory.