As wine critics go, they don’t come much more revered and respected than Robert Parker, but his 100-point system is thought to be what has made his wine reviews so revered, as it gives an added level of accessibility to what can be a confusing industry for newcomers.
Parker created the system with his good friend Victor Morgenroth in order to simplify wine tasting for individuals who didn’t quite have the expertise of renowned wine critics. Indeed, his assertion that many wine critics had a conflict of interest when reviewing wines, usually financially, had unsettled Parker and spurred him into implementing his system.
The scale of 50 to 100 rather than 0 to 100, he scores wines on a range of factors from colour and appearance to aroma, flavour and finish. Although there have inevitably been wine critics who have questioned the system due to the subjectivity involved with tasting food and drink, the system is still used in many wine stores across the USA, often labelled next to the price on the shelves.
The main doubters of the 100-point system have been in the UK, in the form of Jancis Robinson and Clive Coates, who still prefer a more traditional 20-point system. However, it can be argued that Parker’s scoring system rates wines on a far more detailed criteria and gives a more comprehensive view, especially to people with limited knowledge of Bordeaux wines.
Robert Parker himself has said the following of the system;
“Scores, however, do not reveal the important facts about a wine. The written commentary that accompanies the ratings is a better source of information regarding the wine’s style and personality, its relative quality vis-à-vis its peers, and its value and aging potential than any score could ever indicate.”