Wine notes: Where & how write them?

Because I am a geek in writing wine notes, I have been interested in writing mine in the most accurate and efficient way.

Here is a non-exhaustive review of what exists on the market to assist you in writing better wine notes.

Everybody is familiar with the wine notes written by famous wine tasters like Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson, Jamie Good , James Succling and James Molesworth (Wine Spectator) for the english speaking ones and Bettane et Desseauve, La revue des vins de France, Hachette Vins, Bernard Burtschy (l’Avis du vin) and the list is long !
Notes are given on difference scales on 100, 20 or 5 stars…

    The 100 rating system:

  • 96-100: An extraordinary wine of profound and complex character displaying all the attributes expected of a classic wine of its variety. Wines of this caliber are worth a special effort to find, purchase, and consume.

  • 90 – 95 : An outstanding wine of exceptional complexity and character. In short, these are terrific wines.

  • 80 – 89 : A barely above average to very good wine displaying various degrees of finesse and flavor as well as character with no noticeable flaws.

  • 70 – 79 : An average wine with little distinction except that it is a soundly made. In essence, a straightforward, innocuous wine.

  • 60 – 69 : A below average wine containing noticeable deficiencies, such as excessive acidity and/or tannin, an absence of flavor, or possibly dirty aromas or flavors.

  • 50 – 59: A wine deemed to be unacceptable.

“Monetizing” sometimes the access to their wine notes or they intend to monetize it with the traffic on their website or even partnering with merchants to sell the wine only.
Typically here is a good results of what is coming out of it:

Wine Pedigree

The trend among the traditional wine writters / tasters is to allow the user to share their feeling about the wine and create thus a community.
Some other are completely dedicated to the sharing side of it. They differentiate introducing a community access to wine notes, in brief allowing everyone of us to give their point of view about a wine tasted. Eric Levine started few years ago with Cellar-Tracker is one of the oldest, under the drive of GaryVee gave this up few years ago but still exists, TweetAWine is a recent and french one allowing to use twitter as an exchange platform or even Vineolia with its interesting appreciation of the appearance, the nose and palate of the wine.

    The rules more or less understood by each of the protagonists are :

  • to write a wine note in a quickest way to keep a track of it, the use of smartphone app is quite often easing this.

  • to make it easily share able on social medias

  • to add a inventory features to know its own wine inventory (Cellar-tracker)

  • to make it more accurate than a simple note /100 or /20

    This drives my attention and leads me to different thoughts :

  • Does it make wine sell better ?

  • Of course, this is difficult to tell! Considering that on these medias, people will spend time on sharing mainly the good wines that they drank. And that what’s positive about it! On a large scale what is being said about a product can only be interesting marketing and electing wine ambassadors are the best to promote the word of mouth. I think this has a positive effect still marginal for now but with great potential. Reviewing the latest development of these technologies a lot of capital is invested in these community endavours.

  • Are the winemakers following what is being told about their wines ?

  • For the moment, Winemakers follow the famous wine tasters’ notes because these are monetarily interesting to them. Speculative wines are clearly driven by a 90+ note of RP (Wine Advocate) or WS (Wine Spectator) and these notes are clearly shown on winemakers and merchant websites. But some rare merchants are starting to use the community notes ( with Cellar-tracker for example) because they bring value to its sales.

  • Aren’t we mixing tasting and appreciation of wine ?

  • On a technical point of view, all the CIV (Comités Interprofessionnel du Vin) and its members in France will tell that you require a minimum of training, wine course and vocabulary to be able to write a wine note of quality. The Anglo-Saxon are also following this rule but the road to vulgarization is clearer. Indeed the exams to become Certified Wine Specialist (CWS) or the Diploma of the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) are attesting that a professionalization of wine education is on the move. I followed the WSET third graduation with success and I can attest that appreciation (I like – I dislike) of wine is one thing and the other is producing a technical unbiased note about the wine.

Systematic accurate this is the method I use and that about 10k new users each year become familiar to.

WSET Systematic Approach Table

Finally, many initiatives are designed to improve the understanding of wine to consumers which are more or less seasoned to it. And it is for me a recent revolution in the wine industry that is sure to surprise us again.


This post was written by Jean-Noël Schilling