About iS Winescale

A Wine Rating System That Makes Sense!

The iS Winescale was developed as an international standardised wine rating system to enable scores from any source (professional reviewer, wine show or amateur wine drinker) to be directly comparable.


The Weaknesses of Existing Scoring Systems

Two serious issues were identified with the two most popular rating scales, the 100 point scale and the 20 point scale.


The first issue – “they do not make sense.”

The 100 point scoring system is the more popular scoring system. For most reviewers the scoring runs from about 80 points – 100 points. It is NOT a 100 point system but a 20 – 21 point system. Many reviewers will not award 80 points or less. For those reviewers that do award 80 points, a score of 80 out of 100 generally indicates that the wine is of poor quality or even faulty.


Under normal circumstances anyone who scores 80% (80 out of 100) would be pleased with that result. This is not the case with the 100 point wine scale.


The 20 point scale is no better. Scores tend to range from 10 or 12 points to 20 points. Awarding a wine less than about 13 points is a kiss of death. It indicates that the wine is of poor quality or faulty. Curiously with the 20 point scale, reviewers have introduced ½ points to provide themselves with sufficient scope to differentiate wines. Of course, this could have been achieved if the full 20 point range was used in the first place.


The second issue, “scores are individualised by each reviewer,” really highlights the weaknesses of both scales.


Reviewers individually determine what each score means. There are no set parameters and therefore there is no basis for comparability. Reviewers have developed exclusive, individualised scoring systems.


The extent of individualisation by reviewers becomes more apparent towards the lower end of their scoring scales. For example, the descriptions for an 85 point wine include the following.


85 Points – Acceptable; Average; Bronze; Good to Very Good; Very Good to Excellent; Balanced, crowd pleasing; Good; Excellent; Very Good, a wine with special qualities; Wine of very good level, of which we appreciated the typicity and the personality;  Good, above average; Barely above average to very good; Commended.


The range of comments above for an 85 point wine goes from Acceptable & Average, to Excellent. The ability of reviewers to individualise a scale, severely limits any potential value to readers. Furthermore, scores from different reviewers cannot be compared.


One reviewer’s excellent is another reviewer’s average.

Points, Medals & Wine Shows


The inadequacy of a clearly defined scoring system also affects the medals awarded at Wine Shows. Most wine shows state what is required to attain a gold; silver or bronze medal. The medal allocated is determined by a score using either the 100 point system or the 20 point system. What is rarely, if ever, stated is the definition of each score.


For example, if a Gold medal is awarded to a wine that scores 95 points or over using the 100 point system, or 18.5 points or over using 20 point scale, it is critical that the definition of 95 points or 18.5 points is very clear.


Similarly, if a Bronze medal is awarded to a wine that gains 85 points but less than 90 points, the meaning of the 85 to less than 90 points must be defined. (Interestingly, using the descriptions above for an 85 point wine, one judge may award a Bronze Medal to a wine considered average while another judge may be awarding a Bronze Medal to a wine considered excellent!)


Without clear definitions for each score, the meaning of those scores are left to the discretion of each Wine Show Judge.

The Solution


All this can change with the iS Winescale system.


The signature iS Winescale is the iS10 scale. This scale is a ten point scale with 0.5 point intervals. Vital to the effectiveness of any scale is a clear definition for each score. The iS10 Winescale provides true clarity and comparability.


Firstly, wines are segregated into six very distinctive categories that everyone will understand. A wine can be designated Exceptional; Great; Good; Ordinary; Disappointing or Unacceptable. These six categories alone will meet the needs of the vast majority of wine drinkers.


If a wine purchaser is deciding between two wines of equal price and the purchaser’s favourite reviewer has declared one wine as a Great wine and the other as a Good wine then the purchaser has clearly defined information from that reviewer.


Reviewers may need or want more flexibility in defining wines than the six core categories shown above. This is provided by each of the six categories having at least three tiers, see chart below.


The iS Winescale System provides significant benefits to all lovers of wine from the novice to the experienced professional.


Wine lovers can rate wines in three easy steps using the iS10 scale by going to the Rate That Wine page. They can then compare their assessment of a wine to that of their favourite reviewers and understand better the comments and assessment made by the reviewers. Of course, the comparison will be even more meaningful if the reviewers also use the iS10 Winescale.


Wine reviewers who adopt the iS10 Winescale will allocate a clearly defined score to each wine. Reviewers can still use their long-established routines, methodologies, criteria and as much additional description as they wish to use. The score band available to reviewers is 20 positions ranging from 0.5 to 10.0, a sufficient range to provide a clear and understandable assessment of the wines they taste. Their scores become genuinely user-friendly, consistent and transparent. Scores from different reviewers will be directly comparable.


Wine Retailers can promote easy to understand scores based upon a logical, consistent and comparable scoring system.


Wine Show Organisers can provide clear definitions for each medal awarded because judges will be provided with clear and consistent criteria for  each medal category.
For example, a Gold Medal would be awarded to wines that score iS10 8.0 – 10.0 points (Top end of Great Wine – Magnificent Wine).
A Silver Medal would be awarded to wines that score iS10 7.0 – 7.5 points (Lower – Mid Range of Great Wine).
A Bronze Medal would be awarded to wines that score iS10 6.0 – 6.5 points (Mid – Top Range of Good Wine).

The important consideration is – every score is clearly defined.


Wine App User Reviews The iS Winescale system brings additional benefits to all those who contribute to, or read, User reviews on Wine Apps. Each Wine App that invites user reviews has its own scoring system – 5 stars or 6 circles etc. Few of these Apps define what each symbol means. For example, in a 5 star scoring system, do three stars mean average or good or something else?


The iS Winescale system includes a 5 symbol and a 6 symbol system. Furthermore, all three scoring systems iS5iS6 and iS10 are comparable and the iS Winescale website provides a chart comparing the three different scales.


Finally, we have a wine rating system that brings real meaning, clarity and comparability to wine scores. All that we need is for wine lovers, wine reviewers and wine apps to embrace this great system.

Everyone that loves wine wins, with the iS Winescale System


iS10 Winescale Quality Description Position in category
iS 10.0 Magnificent
iS 9.5 Exceptional Top end of Exceptional
iS 9.0 Exceptional Mid range of Exceptional
iS 8.5 Exceptional Lower end of Exceptional
iS 8.0 Great Top end of Great
iS 7.5 Great Mid range of Great
iS 7.0 Great Lower end of Great
iS 6.5 Good Top end of Good
iS 6.0 Good Mid range of Good
iS 5.5 Good Lower end of Good
iS 5.0 Ordinary Top end of Ordinary
iS 4.5 Ordinary Mid range of Ordinary
iS 4.0 Ordinary Lower end of Ordinary
iS 3.5 Disappointing Top end of Disappointing
iS 3.0 Disappointing Mid range of Disappointing
iS 2.5 Disappointing Lower end of Disappointing
iS 2.0 Unacceptable Top end of Unacceptable
iS 1.5 Unacceptable Mid range of Unacceptable
iS 1.0 Unacceptable Lower end of Unacceptable
iS 0.5 Terrible
iS 0.0 Not Rated

Adopt the iS10 Winescale today to promote clear, transparent and comparable scores.