Understanding Wine Ratings

There has been a progressive adoption of the 100-point system in wine shows and in reviews by other commentators. The majority follow the system outlined below, and which James Halliday used in precisely this form in the Wine Companion.







5 glasses - red

[use symbols]


Wines that have won major trophy/trophies in important wine shows, or are of that standard.


5 glasses - black


Wines of gold medal standard, usually with a great pedigree.








5 glasses - black

Wines on the cusp of gold medal status, virtually indistinguishable from those wines receiving 95 points.


4.5 glasses

Highly Recommended

Wines of silver medal standard, wines of great quality, style and character, and worthy of a place in any cellar.








4 glasses


Wines on the cusp of silver medal standard, the difference purely a judgement call.


4 glasses

Wines of bronze medal standard, well produced, flavoursome wines, usually not requiring cellaring.



Special Value

Wines considered to offer special value for money within the context of their glass symbol status.


3.5 glasses


Wines of good commercial quality, free from significant fault.


3 glasses

Over to You

Everyday wines, without much character, and/or somewhat faulty.


2.5 glasses

Not Recommended

Wines with one or more significant winemaking faults.

Five red glasses 

The tasting note opens with the vintage of the wine tasted. This tasting note will have been written within the 12 months prior to publication. Even that is a long time, and during the life of this book the wine will almost certainly change. More than this, remember that tasting is a highly subjective and imperfect art. The price of the wine is listed where information is available. Tasting notes for wines 95 points and above are printed in red.

The initials SC, JF, NG, CM, PR or TS, sometimes appearing at the end of a tasting note, signify that Steven Creber, Jane Faulkner, Ned Goodwin, Campbell Mattinson, Philip Rich or Tyson Stelzer tasted the wine and provided the tasting note and rating.

To 2028

Rather than give a span of drinking years, I have simply provided a (conservative) ‘drink-to’ date. Modern winemaking is such that, even if a wine has 10 or 20 years’ future during which it will gain greater complexity, it can be enjoyed at any time over the intervening months and years.


This is the closure used for this particular wine. The closures in use for the wines tasted are (in descending order): screwcap 90% (last year 88.4%), one-piece natural cork 5.3% (last year 5.8%), Diam 3.1% (last year 4.5%). The remaining 1.6% (in approximate order of importance) are ProCork, Twin Top, Crown Seal, Zork and Vino-Lok. I believe the percentage of screwcap-closed wines will continue to rise for red wines; 98.3% of white wines tasted are screwcapped, leaving little room for any further increase.

13.5 % alc

As with closures, I have endeavoured to always include this information, which is in one sense self-explanatory. What is less obvious is the increasing concern of many Australian winemakers about the rise in alcohol levels, and much research and practical experimentation (picking earlier, higher fermentation temperatures in open fermenters, etcetera) is occurring. Reverse osmosis and yeast selection are two of the options available to decrease higher than desirable alcohol levels. Recent changes to domestic and export labelling mean the stated alcohol will be within a maximum of 0.5% difference to that obtained by analysis.


I use the price provided by the winery. It should be regarded as a guide, particularly if purchased retail.

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Special Value

Wines considered to offer special value for money.