Yeah, so I know my star ratings are kinda cute, but you guys must be wondering what the hell they mean, right?
Here is what I’m referring to when I give a wine a certain number of stars. You’ll notice that the categories are quite board, and that’s perfectly normal! I don’t really want the rating to go beyond the usefulness of the description, so it should be seen more as a general indication of quality than as a true “grade” of pleasure and/or satisfaction. After all, a lot of wine’s fun factor lies in the circumstances in which it is drunk, and it’d be quite unfair for me not to take account of that.
1 star (*)
- To put it simply, I hated that wine. Not only was it uninteresting in itself, it also probably had noticeable flaws that took away quite a bit of pleasure from it. To be classified in the category of Yuck-I’ll-never-buy-that-sh*t-again.
2 stars (**)
- The kind of wine that makes you say “Yeah, allright, it’s okay.” In short, the kind of stuff that has nothing transcendent, but no major defect either. It usually refers to wines we say have little going for or against them, but that still at least present some kind of balance. We’re therefore quite far from the stuff that can get you blind, but there’s clearly no need to run for your life to get a bottle ASAP either.
3 stars (***)
- NOW we’re talking! The wines rated 3 stars will generally be interesting wines that present both balance and concentration, which refers to the intensity of the aromas and flavors. We are still in pretty simple vino land , but here it is good enough to have a rather high fun factor. If the price is good, we are also generally in good value for money (B4B – for bang for buck – in the articles ’cause I’m lazy like that).
4 stars (****)
- Here we’re definitely getting into the more serious stuff – y’know, the kind of wine that leaves you with a pleasant memory that will in all likelihood linger a while. In addition to balance and concentration, there is usually a long, pleasant finish that keeps the wine’s flavors rolling on your tastebuds so that you can not NOT take just oooone more sippysip. I also use the 4 star rating to talk about exceptional wines that have unique qualities while being super well made, or wines that have a KILLER B4B ratio even if they’re simpler than the rest. You’ll also see that I rarely rate that high, because this one clearly flirts with the exception much more than the rule.
5 stars (*****)
- Simply put, we’re here in transcendental and/or religious experience territory. These are the kind of wine that cuts your legs short and immediately make you lose that train of thought. Not only are they perfectly balanced, , concentrated, and showcasing a long finish, they also have an almost disarming complexity that simply overwhelms your senses. I’d say less than 10 wines I ever had in my life would have deserved such a rating, but you just have to have it once to remember it all your life. In short, this is a rating that appeals to emotions just as much as to an objective definition of “quality” … Oh, and chances are it will also be either impossible to find and/or super bloody expensive… Sawry!
OK, so this pretty much covers the quirks of my rating system. If you want to dig a little further before reading my reviews, you can also get a glimpse of my general philosophy on this point by reading my article on What makes a great wine ? As you’ll see, these are pretty much the same basic principles, though present in a more structured way (and with memes, obvi).
SSST. If you ask why I’m going to old school instead of following the fashion and give notes on 100, I invite you to go read my rant on the subject. If you don’t agree and think I’m some kind of world class idiot, then let me know why in the comments! Who knows, maybe you’ll even convince me …!