The American Wine Society has created its own 20-point scale for
use in evaluating wines. Basically, AWS urges members to evaluate wines at
monthly tastings using the following scale:
- Appearance (3 points)
- Aroma/Bouquet (6 points)
- Taste/Texture (6 points)
- Aftertaste (3 points)
- Overall Impression (2 points)
As you examine and drink a wine, you score each category above from zero to
the maximum number of points indicated (using guidelines provided on the form),
then total, for a maximum score of 20. For example, wines rated 18-20 are
considered Extraordinary, 15-17 Excellent, and 12-14 Good.
Print Copies of the Chart
At most of our tastings, we distribute copies of the chart and urge its use
by attendees (but this is not mandatory). We collect the charts at the end
of the tasting to summarize results and report back to all attendees. We
feel that regular use of the AWS evaluation chart will help hone your
appreciation for the subtleties between different wines.
Hints for Using the Chart
- Unless you see discoloration or particles floating in the wine (for
example), you should generally give Appearance a 3. Just because you
like to see dark red wines or golden yellow wines doesn't mean a lighter
shade of red or a pale yellow is a defect! Consider the type of wine
carefully when downgrading here, if doing so on color alone.
- Remember that you are evaluating a wine against a theoretical standard.
When rating Aroma, for example, a bit of "barnyard" aroma might be
characteristic of a certain style of wine and isn't necessarily a bad
characteristic, even if you don't prefer it yourself. Try to be
objective. Another example: some of us don't like the grassiness
typical of many sauvignon blancs, but that doesn't make a given wine bad.
Be a little restrained in your negative evaluations when your personal
tastes wouldn't typically include a given style of wine.
- When entering a numeric rating, we recommend that the Total Score not be
recorded by fractions less than ½; that is, please don't record Total Scores
like 17.3 or 17¼. A 17.5 or 17½ is OK. How you record your
individual ratings leading up to a Total Score is up to you. For
instance, you may wish to use a plus (+) and minus (-) notation for
individual scores or fractional ratings, but stick with increments of ½ for
the Total Scores.
- When you are done, if you have rated a wine a 20, this is like Robert
Parker rating it 95-100! Is it really one of the finest wines you have
ever tasted, extraordinary and flawless? On the other hand, if you
have rated a wine below 12, you are saying it's a real dog (with apologies
to our canine friends), and below 9 it's a disaster. If you find
yourself disagreeing with your own overall rating, go back and seek the best
categories for minor adjustments.