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Tasting Notes Now Include Wine Ratings

Readers of this blog may have noticed that posts with formal tasting notes now include a starred rating and aging estimate. When I started the Hogshead Wine Blog I had no idea it would continue to grow in readership nor come to include so many different tasting notes. I often repurchase a wine or try it after it has aged a bit and find that I do forget just how much I liked a wine or if I really should resist pulling the cork. I am now in the habit of referring to my blog, both at home and at stores, so having this information in my posts has become quite useful. Hopefully you will find the added information helpful as well.

Over the past month I have updated all posts from 2011 with this information sourced from my notes. I am still in the process of updating posts from January 2012 but should complete the task next week. As much as I enjoy tasting wine and posting on the blog, I remind myself that I do have a day job which takes precedence over the timely updating of my posts. You may pull up posts by rating using the “Wines By Rating” widget located in the right-hand column.

I have chosen a five-star rating system. Though this is undoubtedly influenced by my early reading of Decanter Magazine and the books of Michael Broadbent, I find it is the system to which I naturally fall back on. For further information please read below. This information also appears in the About page.

Tasting Notes

We write down tasting notes for the vast majority of all wines which are encountered. Most of these encounters occur at home where we typically have two to four bottles open. With this constant rotating selection, notes for a particular wine are typically taken over a two to three-day period. We also frequently taste at one of our houses where we open six to eight bottles centered on a theme. At the end of the tasting we split up the leftover wines then retaste them the following night. All leftover wine is enclosed with a liberal dose of Private Preserve. It is from these evenings that the majority of the formal tasting notes are generated.

We also write notes when we taste wine at a restaurant, casually at a friend’s house, a wine store, or a trade tasting. We record these shorter, less formal notes because we find the impressions are still useful. These tasting notes are always accompanied by the event at which they were tasted.

The vast majority of the wines reviewed are privately purchased by the authors or their friends. A small portion of the wines are tasted at public events held by wineries, importers, and wine stores. Any published reviews that stem from public events or free samples will be clearly noted.


All formally tasted wines will be rated similar to Michael Broadbent’s scoring system where a wine may receive zero to five stars. We would drink wines receiving two stars at parties, bars, and restaurants if they are value priced. We would not hesitate to drink any wine receiving three or more stars. Most informally tasted wines will be marked by Not Rated. Wines tasted at store or trade events typically fall into this category because we do not feel comfortable rating a wine based on one or two small pours or from inadequate stemware.

*****    Outstanding     Arresting, the best, truly memorable.
****     Very Good       Makes one smile, worthy of the effort to find.
***      Good            Gives strong pleasure, good character, our daily drinkers.
**       Moderately Good An enjoyable wine appropriate for parties and meals.
*        Fair            Drinkable but no character or too many negative traits.
No Stars Poor            Flawed or undrinkable.

Parenthesis and Aging Estimates

Parenthesis signifies that a wine which is currently drinking at one level should improve to a higher level with age. For example, ***(*) signifies that a wine is currently drinking Good but with age will become Very Good. Wines that may be drunk now with pleasure will have an age estimate starting with Now. If the wine requires age then the start date signifies when it should be tried again. The stop date signifies when the plateau of drinking might end, it is an estimate of when the wine starts declining from prime drinking. These estimates should be taken lightly so you may judge if a wine may be drunk now or should be cellared and its relative longevity.

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