Wine Ratings and Pricing: Where’s the Correlation?

My day job has me traveling quite a bit in the metro Phoenix area.  Whenever I am nearby a wine shop, store or warehouse, I pay a very quick visit.  I walk in on a mission, quickly scanning the brands and the prices while comparing them with the data bank in my mind.  At the same time I make mental notes of prices in relation to points ratings.  I am looking for price points like 94+ points for under 30 dollars.

You’re thinking, Yea right!, but this includes markdowns.  Occasionally, I will find something that comes pretty close.
2005 Columbia Crest Grand Reserve Cabernet, 95 points… $22.
I picked up 6 bottles of the 2005 Marquis Phillips Shiraz 9 for $16 each on markdown… Robert Parker rated it 96-98 points.
Which brings me to this question:  What’s with the ratings? A few ratings really stood out as I scanned some other wines. The following wines had no markdowns.
2007 Simi Chardonnay Sonoma County, 84 points.
Next, the 2005 Ravenswood Zinfandel, scored 84 points by Wine Spectator.
Then my eyes find the 2005 Markham Merlot, at 83 points.
To wrap up the confusion, I glanced at the 2005 Silver Oak Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with 82 points from Wine Spectator.
What?  If you’ve seen my other posts on things that bug me, one of them was the big warehouse stores that couldn’t spell, or sell for that matter, a 95 point French wine priced at 33% less than the cheapest online price.  I figured this must be a misprint; time to whip out the trusty smartphone.  Just a side note, I only recently got a smartphone and the only thing I use it for is to price check wine! But even after searching and searching, I can find nothing about this rating.  Most of the online outfits that sell Silver Oak are touting the 92 point rating it received from Wine & Spirits.  I also found that Stephen Tanzer gave it 89 points.  Moreover, when I refined my Google search to only include blogs, hoping to find more objective reviews, all I found was idol worship.
What are the most glaring examples of ratings discrepancies between publications that you’ve noticed? Does it seem like ratings and pricing don’t always correlate?


  1. Just came across your blog, love it. In regards to points and prices…I have no clue what is going on but from a wine shop owner standpoint, I won’t use points at all. (Shop opens in November) I know people depend on scores when looking at wine but I’ve also done some research and seen that there is such a wide range of scores on just one wine that how can we trust the people who are tasting it? Without using names, I noticed a retailer in my area (Seattle) posting a point of 96 points on one wine while two other people gave it an 86 and 89. I mean we could just average it out and use that but I was thinking that it was a pretty jump from 86. I mean why would any retailed use the 86 then or even mention it. Or better yet is when retailers use a talker that says that last years vintage was a 95 pointer while the current vintage is only around 86. In all…I don’t think there is any correlation anymore. I think we need to read and spend time with our merchants rather than just scan for points that may not even be correct. Just my 2 cents.

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