The Decanter Guarantee

Our buying guide provides you with trusted, independent, expert recommendations on what to buy, drink and cellar.

Judging process

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 8-10 wines. Our experts taste and score wines individually but then discuss their scores together at the end of each flight. Any wines on which scores are markedly different are re-tasted; however, judges are under no obligation to amend their scores.

Judges are encouraged to look for typicity in wines, rewarding those that are true to their region. When judging, experts are aware of wine price bands  – under £15, £15 - £30 and over £30 – with the aim of recognising and rewarding quality and value.

The tastings are held in the controlled environment of Decanter’s tasting suite: a quiet, purposely designed room, with natural light. 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 indicated 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.

Scoring system

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. 

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