Applying Wine Spectator’s 100-Point Scale to Your Palate

The luxury and service found at Timbers Resorts' private residence clubs are about more than accommodations - whether in the valleys of Sonoma or the mountains of Colorado, food and drink are a critical part of the vacation experience. At One Steamboat Place, the wine cellar is a hallmark of this slopeside residence club. At Mayacama, the Vintner Program and handsome wine cave showcase notable winemakers and collections.

When traveling, an invaluable resource to the oenophile are the opinions, articles, and reviews from Wine Spectator, one of the globe's best sources of wine news and opinion. The WS scale gives a quick overview of what to expect from a wine, but the scores are often misunderstood. The biggest misconception seems to come from wines scoring "88" or "89" - often thought to be a disappointing number! Instead, wines ranked from 85-89 are termed "very good: a wine with special qualities" - hardly the mark of stern criticism. An inexpensive 89 point pick may serve one's purpose (especially in a restaurant setting) with far more value than a pricey 91 pointer! For reference, here's the remainder of the scale:

  • 95-100 Classic: a great wine
  • 90-94 Outstanding: a wine of superior character and style
  • 85-89 Very Good: a wine with special qualities
  • 80-84 Good: a solid, well-made wine
  • 75-79 Mediocre: a drinkable wine that may have minor flaws

While Wine Spectator's reviews were originally found only in their magazine, technology shifts have made the review archives easier to access, though with a bit of cost involved. The site allows access to both reviews and article archives for $5/month or $49/year. For mobile users, the magazine's new WineRatings+ app (available for iPhone and Android) allows one to search 300,000 reviews and vintage charts for $2.99/month.

There is a key tip to utilize when reading Wine Spectator reviews: don't just check the score, but also the taster's initials. The WS staff are very knowledgeable, but all have different palates and tend to favor certain styles over others. Fans of New World, fruit-forward wines, for example, would do well to follow the advice of James Laube, while fans of lean and crisp wine offerings may prefer the picks of Matt Kramer. Neither critic is wrong, but their choices are quite divergent.

Of course, while ratings are helpful, nothing takes the place of a conversation with a wine professional. Whether visiting with the winemakers at Castello di Casole or simply requesting a recommendation at the Truffle Pig at One Steamboat Place, Timbers Resorts respects your love of wine and will work to deliver a great experience during your visit.

To learn more about Timbers Resorts, please contact us at 800.941.4579 (toll free) or 970.963.4626 (direct) or via email at