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There are several wine rating scales in use today, and many wine sellers and auctions use a combination.

A wine with a higher rating is normally more expensive than average wines, although this is not always true. Rating scales are useful if you'd like to try a new wine and don't want an unpleasant surprise.

A major drawback to wine ratings? The score given to wine depends on the person doing the rating.

Like a panned movie that became a film classic, wine ratings change with the times. Therefore, wine ratings should always be used as a rough guide to wines you'd like to personally sample.

if you are interested in a wine with an mediocre rating, it's always a good idea to go back and read the notes to see what or who produced the score. Find someone whose taste in wines runs parallel to your own and see what they thought about that wine you'd like to try or buy.

Of course, this means you'll have to sample a few bottles to rate the raters before you find one you'll agree with. Take your time, develop your palate, take notes and enjoy ...

ED NOTE: The Wine Spectator, The Wine Enthusiast, and Wine & Spirits Magazine are highly respected wine publications which publish ratings based on the 50 to 100 numerical scale. You may see these listing in wine reviews, buying guides and auctions. However, there have been questions raised about whether ad dollars have some unintentional influence on wine ratings from these more commercial publications. They do not make their ratings available without a subscription.

Around the Web, more information about wine ratings and what they mean :

The Wine Advocate Rating System
- One of the most respected wine rating systems is the one developed by Robert Parker in The Wine Advocate. The scale goes from 50 to 100 and awards color, appearance, aroma and bouquet, flavor and overall quality a set number of points. Wines over 80 are very good and over 90 are excellent. Of course a 95 is a better score than a 90. Not everyone agrees with all of Parker's ratings but if your tastes merge with his, anything over an 85 will make you happy.

Wine Spider - The wine spider is a rating system designed by Nick Chlebnikowski of Vintage Direct/Nick Wines in response to dissatisfaction with the rating scales currently in use. It has some very good aspects and although the subscription price is $AUS30, the subscribers get to share everyone's wine reviews and ratings. It's well worth taking a look at the demo if you are serious about wine - especially wines from Australia.

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