Seems there is a recent flood of articles and blog posts concerning Wine Rating systems. There is an interesting article in the San Francisco Chronicle titled "Are Ratings Pointless." One interesting point the article raised is that wines are generally only rated once, though wine does change over time. So, why isn't wine rated over time, to see how well it ages? No clear answer but it certainly raises a good point.
There is also a movement in the wine blog community to try to standardize a wine rating system just for bloggers. They want to differentiate themselves from the wine professionals, such as the Wine Advocate and the Wine Spectator. Two bloggers, WineCast and Catavino, have addressed this issue. They are pushing for a 5 point/star system. I don't agree that a 5 point system is really that much better.
What exactly do we want our Ratings to accomplish? And are those purposes better off served in Tasting Notes rather than a rating? I think the basic purpose is to guide people to wines they will like. It is not to create a set of trophy wines that people will seek out, to the detriment of good wines that just don't happen to be the very best. The 100 point system is often cited as flawed because there are people who only seek wines rated 90 and above. They ignore good wines just because they are not rated high enough. Yet, a 5 point system is subject to the same problem, that people might only seek 4 or 5 point wines, ignoring all others.
The Real World Winer devised a very simple Rating system, which I still use, with only 3 categories.
1) Drink & Buy: A wine I recommend as worthy of buying.
2) Drink Not Buy: A wine that is drinkable but not something I would buy myself.
3) No Drink No Buy. A wine I would not recommend at all.
Everything else you need to know about the wine is in the Tasting Notes. My goal is to direct people toward certain wines, regardless of price. So, an excellent $10 wine or an excellent $200 wine could both be in the first category. The tasting notes will mention the price, and also whether I consider it a good value. Thus, people can enjoy good and superb wines, without just seeking the trophy wines.
I thus hope that more people will drink wines that would only receive good, but not excellent points, in other systems. Why miss out on so many good wines?