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Wine Ratings

Key West Fine Wines has a high-quality varied selection of wines from around the world.  We specialize in carrying many wines that you will not find elsewhere in stores in the Keys.  When you purchase from Key West Fine Wines, you can be confident that our entire inventory is personally curated by the proprietors, sourced from reliable suppliers, and transported with great care to our store — where the wines are kept in a temperature controlled environment — complete with a back-up 22kw Generac air-cooled generator to keep the temperature constant in the store in the event of power outages.  

We strive to carry wines that have been rated by at least one widely recognized professional source.  When a wine has multiple ratings, for simplicity, we use the highest rating received. If a wine has no professional rating, we either do not indicate a rating or indicate where the wine is ranked among the world’s wines by  Note that vivino ratings are dynamic so the scores are accurate as of when we checked them.

Professional wine ratings are generally based on a 100-point quality scale using that particular rater’s unique criteria. Ratings may or may not indicate a certain degree of quality; however, your own preferences are the ultimate criteria for judging the quality of a wine.  The key to the professional wine ratings source abbreviations we employ is as follows:  BH -- Allen Meadows' Burghound; CG -- Connoisseurs' Guide; CT -- Cellar Tracker; D -- Decanter Magazine; IWR -- International Wine Report; JH -- James Halliday, Australian Wine Companion; JS --; JD -- Jeb Dunnuck; JG -- John Gilman; RP/WA -- Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate; ST -- Stephen Tanzer; TP -- Tasting Panel; V -- Vinous; WE -- Wine Enthusiast Magazine; WS -- Wine Spectator Magazine; W&S -- Wine & Spirits Magazine; and WW -- Wilfred Wong,   

To put professional wine ratings into perspective, here is what Robert Parker says about his approach to rating wine:  “The numeral rating given is a guide to what I think of the wine vis-à-vis its peer group. Certainly, wines rated above 85 are very good to excellent, and any wine rated 90 or above will be outstanding for its particular type. While some have suggested that scoring is not well suited to a beverage that has been romantically extolled for centuries, wine is no different from any consumer product. There are specific standards of quality that full-time wine professionals recognize, and there are benchmark wines against which others can be judged. I know of no one with three or four different glasses of wine in front of him or her, regardless of how good or bad the wines might be, who cannot say, ‘I prefer this one to that one.’ Scoring wines is simply taking a professional's opinion and applying some sort of numerical system to it on a consistent basis. Scoring permits rapid communication of information to expert and novice alike.

The score given for a specific wine reflects the quality of the wine at its best. I often tell people that evaluating a wine and assigning a score to a beverage that will change and evolve in many cases for up to 10 or more years is analogous to taking a photograph of a marathon runner. Much can be ascertained but, like a picture of a moving object, the wine will also evolve and change. Wines from obviously badly corked or defective bottles are re-tasted, since a wine from a single bad bottle does not indicate an entirely spoiled batch. Many of the wines reviewed have been tasted many times, and the score represents a cumulative average of the wine's performance in tastings to date. Scores, however, do not reveal the important facts about a wine. The written commentary that accompanies the ratings is a better source of information regarding the wine's style and personality, its relative quality vis-à-vis its peers, and its value and aging potential than any score could ever indicate.

Here then is a general guide to interpreting the numerical ratings:

90-100 is equivalent to an A and is given only for an outstanding or special effort. Wines in this category are the very best produced of their type. There is a big difference between a 90 and 99, but both are top marks. As you will note through the text, there are few wines that actually make it into this top category because there are not many great wines.

80-89 is equivalent to a B in school and such a wine, particularly in the 85-89 range, is very, very good; many of the wines that fall into this range often are great values as well. I have many of these wines in my personal collection.

70-79 represents a C, or average mark, but obviously 79 is a much more desirable score than 70. Wines that receive scores between 75 and 79 are generally pleasant, straightforward wines that lack complexity, character, or depth. If inexpensive, they may be ideal for uncritical quaffing.

Below 70 is a D or F, depending on where you went to school. For wine, it is a sign of an imbalanced, flawed, or terribly dull or diluted product that will be of little interest to the discriminating consumer.

In terms of awarding points, my scoring system gives every wine a base of 50 points. The wine's general color and appearance merit up to 5 points. Since most wines today are well made, thanks to modern technology and the increased use of professional oenologists, they tend to receive at least 4, often 5 points. The aroma and bouquet merit up to 15 points, depending on the intensity level and dimension of the aroma and bouquet as well as the cleanliness of the wine. The flavor and finish merit up to 20 points, and again, intensity of flavor, balance, cleanliness, and depth and length on the palate are all important considerations when giving out points. Finally, the overall quality level or potential for further evolution and improvement—aging—merits up to 10 points.

Scores are important for the reader to gauge a professional critic's overall qualitative placement of a wine vis-à-vis its peer group. However, it is also vital to consider the description of the wine's style, personality, and potential. No scoring system is perfect, but a system that provides for flexibility in scores, if applied by the same taster without prejudice, can quantify different levels of wine quality and provide the reader with one professional's judgment. However, there can never be any substitute for your own palate nor any better education than tasting the wine yourself.”

A representative sample of our inventory with professional ratings is listed below.  Wines rated 94 points or more (according to Wine Enthusiast wines rated 98-100 are considered "Classic" and are the "pinnacle of quality"; wines rated 94-97 are considered "Superb" and are "a great achievement") and/or rated in the Top 2% of wines in the world by Vivino are bolded.  Of course, this list is subject to change and does not represent our entire inventory.  Finally, we are happy to order wines for customers that we do not have in our inventory upon request.

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