Triangle Chapter, American Wine Society
Serving Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC, and Vicinity
AWS Wine Evaluation Chart
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.
Alternatively, if you wish to modify the chart first, supplying
wine names for a tasting, you can save a copy of our chapter's unofficial
MS Word version of the AWS Wine Evaluation
Chart. (click link and choose the SAVE option, or right click and
choose Save Target As)
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.