Monday, August 18, 2008

The LaVista Scale: Wine Rating Scale of the Future?

Lately I've read a lot about the age old debate over the standard industry 100 point wine rating scale. Some say it's time for a change, others are loyalists to the bitter end. Well, it got me to thinking. Why not create my own wine rating scale? One that would answer my prayers in terms of what I wish the scale would tell me. Give me important relatively objective factors that I can use in selecting a wine for an occasion of passing fancy. Now, I'm not fooling my self into thinking that I've come up with a completely objective scale. I know that we all have our own pallets with different likes and dislikes. No rating scale can account for that. However, I think my idea, though a little complicated, may be the first step on a path to accomplishing my goal.

The LaVista scale, as I so humbly call it, it designed to identify a "well made" wine. A wine that a true lover of wine can appreciate no matter what his or her personal preferences are. It is based on a 20 point score which is the culmination of adding up 4 sub scores that range from 1 to 5. The four sub rating categories are what I find important to the overall wine experience. They are Nose, Flavor, Length, and Smoothness. 5 being the highest score in each sub category. Lets go through these categories one by one.

First there is the Nose. Yes, the "sniffy sniff" as Gary Vaynerchuk would call it. No wine drinking experience would be complete without this opening volley. In rating the nose, I would look for two factors: Multiplicity of odors and the strength of those odors. Obviously a wine with a very tight nose and little odor would be rated a 1. A wine with a variety of recognizable odors that are strong enough to last throughout drinking would be rated a 5. Notice, it doesn't really matter if the odors are to the tasters liking or not, thus the objectiveness of this subcategory.

Second, there is the Taste. This is similar to the Nose in the sense that I would rate a wine with a rainbow of flavors that are easy to taste a 5, those with very little flavor or watery would be a 1. Obviously if the taste is legitimately unpleasant it would rate a 1. But when tasting one would need to make a sincere effort to remain objective. It's not whether you like raspberry, for example, that should determine your rating, but how close the taste is to raspberry that will land you at a score.

Third, is the Length. This is a combination of the wine affecting the front, mid and back pallets as well as how long a taste will linger on the pallet after the drinking is done. Wines that have an affect on all 3 portions of the pallet as well as staying power woould warrant a 5.

Finally, there is what I call Smoothness. This is how easily a wine goes down. Is it harsh and alcoholic or smooth and velvety? Obviously the smoother the better earns the 5 and the harsh, hot wine get the 1.

You tally up your sub scores and arrive a total. 16 to 20 is an exceptionally well made wine. A 10 to 15 is an average to good wine. 5 to 9 is a poor wine and 1 to 4 is just God awful. Hopefully combining these subcategories results in the reader identify well made wines that are worth buying and trying against your pallet. I intend to try this out at the next wine taste. I would hope others would help me give my system a dry run.

1 comment:

Jon-Paul said...

I like the idea, Ant! It absolutely can complicate things somewhat, but here's my thinking in advocating this new scale--up to now, if a wine we've had knocked everyone's socks off, there tends to be a bias to forgetting about any shortcomings that came with the wine (such as maybe a not-so-great nose, or brief heat on the back end). Your scale seems to have potential to 'level the playing field', so to speak.

I think a good approach particularly for this upcoming tasting is to perhaps pilot this scale but use our traditional one as well to evaluate how our scoring varies.