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  American Wine Society logo Triangle Chapter, American Wine Society
Serving Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, NC, and Vicinity
American Wine Society logo  

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:

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 15-17 are considered 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

This page was updated on October 21, 2019.