I dropped by Tom Wark’s Fermentation blog the other day and found a post on wine ratings. Tom posted on the topic because he had received emails linking to an article by Gary Rivlin on wine rating in The New York Times. There really is nothing new in the Rivlin article, in fact there is one statement that I see over and over again, and that is the argument that Robert Parker, Jr. “introduced the 100-point system to the wine world in 1978”.
Now let’s get this straight, once and for all time. Robert Parker, Jr. made the 100-point scoring system popular. He did NOT invent, introduce, or in any way originate the use of 100 points in the scoring of wine. To confirm this all you have to do is look at a copy of Dan Murphy’s A Guide to Wine Tasting (Sun Books, Melbourne, 1977). Chapter Fourteen is devoted to Score Cards. In discussing examples of existing score cards, Dan writes “Many judges in various countries think that a scale of 100 has its value, since a judge may include far more individual facets of the wines and allot points (or subtract them) accordingly. This may help his accuracy and consistency.”
He then goes on, in Figures 7 through 13, to show “a series of score cards which I have used in my business for twenty-five years and which I find useful also for scoring wines at shows.”
Unlike Parker’s simple allocation of 100 points, Murphy’s scoring is different for different wine styles, no doubt one reason why it is not in popular use today. But let’s give credit where it is due. Robert Parker, Jr. made popular something that existed at least a quarter of a century before he began the Wine Advocate. He may have massaged it a bit to make it suit his style, but he did not invent, introduce, or in any way originate the use of 100 points in the scoring of wine.