The Decanter guarantee
Our buying guide is here to provide you with trusted, independent, expert recommendations on what to buy, what to drink and what to cellar.
Each panel tasting is judged by three experienced tasters chosen for their authority in the category of wine being rated. All wines are tasted blind and are pre-poured for judges in flights of eight to 10 wines. Our three experts taste and score their set of wines individually but then discuss their scores together at the end of each flight. Any wines on which scores are markedly different are retasted; however, judges are under no obligation to amend their scores.
Judges are encouraged to look for typicity in wines, rewarding those which are true to their region. Prices are not revealed, and thus not taken into consideration when scoring.
The tastings are held in the controlled environment of Decanter’s tasting suite: a plain white room, with natural light and no noise. We limit the number of wines tasted to a manageable level – a maximum of 85 per day – allowing judges to taste more thoroughly and avoid palate fatigue.
Drink-by dates are based on how long it is prudent to keep the wine in question. However, some wines will have a longer ageing capacity if stored in pristine conditions throughout their lifespan.
Tasters rate the wines using the 100-point scoring system. The overall Decanter rating is the average of all three judges’ scores.
The ratings are as follows: 98-100: Exceptional A great, exceptional and profound wine 95-97: Outstanding
An excellent wine of great complexity and character 90-94: Highly Recommended
A very accomplished wine, with impressive complexity 86-89: Recommended
A well-made, straightforward and enjoyable wine 83-85: Commended
An acceptable, simple wine with limited personality 76-82: Fair
Correctly made, if unexciting 70-75: Poor
Unbalanced and/or bland with no character 50-69: Faulty
Displays winemaking faults For the Exceptional and Outstanding
Decanter ratings, judges’ individual scores and tasting notes are listed in addition to the average score. For the Highly Recommended and Recommended wines, individual and average scores are also listed but tasting notes are a combination of the three judges’ notes. For the tasting notes of the Commended wines, please go to Decanter.com