The Bevebilita Score

It's all about drinkability!

 


Almost all wine scoring systems purport to reflect the quality of a particular bottle of wine. Wine reviewers like to fool themselves, some very effectively, that what we do is somehow objective.

It’s true that there are objective observations that can be made, using scientific analysis, regarding a wine’s alcohol, sugar, tannin, acid, and dry extract levels, but this is not what gets written about.

Don’t let the fact that these are objectively measurable fool you into thinking that a reviewer’s words are anything more than their subjective perception of these elements of a wine.
Just take a look at how sugar affects the perception of acid or tannin in a wine -- and let’s not even delve into temperature as a major variable of these tasting experiences, both ambient and serving temperature. No, let there be no doubt about it, a typical numerical score for a wine reflects one person’s opinion and no more. They certainly are helpful, and allow consumers to identify writers whose palate preferences align with theirs, but taken in the abstract, as they so frequently are on retail shelf-talkers, they are worse than meaningless, because we insist on attaching some importance to them!

So, what should we be discussing when we talk about wine? To steal a word, because it sounds so much better in Italian: Bevebilita. Ask any group of wine lovers what the best wine was at any particular tasting and you’ll usually find that it’s the first dead soldier.

What’s a dead soldier? It’s the first bottle that’s been emptied. Sometime, with some groups, that might be the wine that is supposedly the best, or has the most impressive label or pedigree, but more frequently it’s the most drinkable wine. Now drinkability (I told you Bevebilita sounds better) is another complex concept that a single number attempts to simplify, but with a fairly significant difference. I think almost everyone would agree that water is more drinkable than vodka, to use an extreme comparison. This concept of Bevebilita has certain almost universal qualities to it, and a Bv score -- or Bevebilita Variable -- used in conjunction with a more traditional score, can help to inform a reader far more than either score alone.

So, where does that leave us? Well, for starters I’m going to begin using the two scores to form an amalgamate score for my reviews. What does that mean? Well, potentially quite a lot. Allow me to explain how I will score wines.

I will continue to use the traditional 100-point scale, which is not more than about 22 points in my case (from 78-100) within which range I find wines that I might want to drink. Below 78 is a wine I generally can’t recommend; there are simply too many better wines out there.

In addition I will now average in my Bv score, which is itself going to be an average of two qualities important to drinkability: the drinkability itself, which boils down to balance, freshness, and, well, ease of drinking; and the ease with which the wine can be paired with food. This is far from a perfect system, and only the first iteration, but I think to most people it will be an improvement over the status quo.

My Bv score will be a score that ranges from 50 to 100 and will be arrived at by adding a wine’s drinkability and food friendliness. Each of these scores will be out of 5, though I can see pluses and minuses creeping into the equation, so the scale itself will actually range from 0 to 25. Some examples are in order.

See page 2 for examples

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Comments

  • Snooth User: JOANF
    83389 65

    Greg,
    Why don't you just add separate scores for Drinkability and Food Friendly instead of combining them. It would be far less confusing because I, for one, would still like to see the original score.
    I'm going to have to pass on this new system.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 4:01 PM


  • Snooth User: schellbe
    Hand of Snooth
    247770 225

    How do I use your scoring to evaluate the potential quality of a Bordeaux with a slab of beef in twenty years? By most of your standards, it would be rated down. And I would not serve it with whitefish or heavily spiced dishes. But given enough time (for me, usually ten to twenty years), this could be a fine wine.

    Or how about a vintage port? It would clash with most foods, and be tannic for many years.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 4:04 PM


  • Was thinking the exact same thing as JoanF. I love the idea and think you are on to something. The second you combine your scores the concept becomes convoluted and both scores completely loss their value, at least for me. After all, isn’t the score for your readers and consumers?

    Mar 21, 2011 at 4:10 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 211,229

    Scellbe, that's exactly right

    I give the abstract qualitative score, which in effect in your case could be considered the potential score, but if a wine is a 94 with a Bv of 70 you know that it's not ready for prime time. Of course just reading the scores may not convey that info, but in conjunction with the review it should.

    I am open to debating how best to implement this change. Like I said, this is a first iteration and besides the overall concept, I am not tied to any part of this!

    Keep it coming folks.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 4:28 PM


  • While I can see the merit in the type of system you are proposing, you have to keep in mind that there are wine drinkers, like myself, that really do not care how a wine pares with food. I rarely drink wine with a meal so I judge a wine on how it will drink in a "stand alone" situation. Pop the cork, decant if needed, pour a few glasses and chat with like minded friends:)

    Mar 21, 2011 at 4:37 PM


  • I like it. I'd also like to see an estimated peak drinking date. I know every bottle is different, but when I see a 90+ cab, I wonder what the aging ark will look like. Does it get better very slowly and then ramp up fast as it approaches peak age, or does it get better fast in the first few years and then improve much slower as the bottle approaches maturity? Maybe the wine aging ark is linear. Either way I feel a post on how wine ages in the bottle would be great.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 4:45 PM


  • Snooth User: brado
    261649 4

    What?

    Mar 21, 2011 at 5:14 PM


  • davidfrick, you hit the nail right on the head. I have never heard anyone pose the question that you have and I would also like to know what the usual "aging ark" is.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 5:26 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 211,229

    And so it gets even more complicated but... What I am proposing is in effect sort of dual scores, one for those who appreciate wine without food, and one for people who are more prone to pair wine with food. The point of evolution may have to be added as yet another overlay but I am liking this even more! New line in my project!

    Mar 21, 2011 at 5:32 PM


  • Snooth User: nancykay
    566412 1

    While you explained your system well, you really lost me. Why combine the two scores at all? Give a quality score first, followed by a separate score for "drinkability and pairing" score. Yes, I know...two scores instead of one is "revolutionary," but given separately they make the very distinction you are emphasizing. Combining the two scores is tantamount to averaging an apple and an orange. You've made a wonderful point and then diminished it.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 5:33 PM


  • Snooth User: rhw168
    635553 133

    Greg,
    I think with your bv score, it'll be easier for me to find if your palate aligns with mine a lot quicker. (Whilst I still yet to figure out if Paker's aligns with mine; since I sometimes like his high scoring ones and hated - not just dislike, but hated - them sometimes.)

    It will be an ok system, given that you're still refining it.

    Thanks,
    Rudy

    Mar 21, 2011 at 6:24 PM


  • Snooth User: Mart P
    Hand of Snooth
    161710 25

    I think nancykay has said it well - seeing the two scores reported is much more useful than seeing a combined score. If I am looking to buy a wine to cellar as a great representative of a favorite varietal I'll look for the high 'traditional' score. If I'm looking for a wine to take to a friend's house for dinner tonight I'll go for the Bv score. There's a lot of info in the side by side score that gets lost when you average them. I like the thought process a lot in any case. Good work.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 6:33 PM


  • Snooth User: nickyras
    641688 7

    I feel the system you propose is a great step in a new direction. I personally feel the two scores is better then one. Comments have been made about having three separate scores I propose drop the pairing score all together and just weight the drinkability. I feel most wines are food friendly it just depends on the food you drink it with. As even if there are many food options one still needs to make the right choice( a big cab and a sulfery spear of asparagus not so wise). So I am on board but humbly suggest the droping of the pairing factor and leve it simply to drinkability. Salute, Cin Cin!

    Mar 21, 2011 at 6:35 PM


  • Snooth User: jwinter1
    728991 84

    Well what the heck. If you're going to give it 2 separate scores, then why not identify all 3? Nothing lost except extra effort which you've already done anyway and then we could "pick and choose" the information that we want to use. I also agree about the bottle-aging question...definitely confusing so perhaps an "aging graph" would be possible. Sorry, you asked.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 6:56 PM


  • I am a little slow...

    In your first example, how does "3-" translate to +14 re: food pairing?

    Mar 21, 2011 at 7:09 PM


  • You don't appear to have a facility to unsubscribe to your emails, much as I love wine!

    Mar 21, 2011 at 7:10 PM


  • Write your comment here.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 7:10 PM


  • Snooth User: Matt W
    639143 150

    This is taking something already too complex and compounding its complexity. I score wines on a 5 point scale like Snooth uses. Combined with the cost of the wine (a 4 star $8 vs. a 4 star $50 wine), this is all I care about... how much did I like it for what it is? Use the language in your review to fill in the details.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 7:39 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 211,229

    Hey Dana, to make things simply I allot 5 categories for each criteria, which then get multiplied by 5 pts to convert to the 100 pt system.

    It looks like there is a sentiment that 2 scores is better than aggregating, I will mull that over. In regards to presenting the ageing graph for each wine, this has been proposed before but with a new set of site redesigns on the schedule I'll be pushing hard for this one!

    Mar 21, 2011 at 7:39 PM


  • Greg,

    Your first example:

    Drinkability > 4 X 5pts = 20 pts

    Food pairing: 3- X ? = 14 pts

    Total 50 + 34 = combined pts

    What are your categories and point system for food pairing as I still cannot understand what "3- means and how that equates to +14 points?

    Thanks for your patience.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 7:54 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 211,229

    That 14 should be a 15!

    D'oh! My mistake. I go things too quickly at times.

    I'm the slow one, not you.

    I'll go edit that right now.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 8:07 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 211,229

    Just realized that was from my first iteration, sort of my Beta work, when i included pluses and minuses for scores but that got unwieldy really fast so for the sake of expediency I opted to go with round numbers only.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 8:13 PM


  • Okay, it appears you have similar problems in the Cabernet example.

    Thanks!

    Mar 21, 2011 at 8:15 PM


  • Snooth User: Beecharmer
    Hand of Snooth
    45206 112

    Hunh?? I have graduate work in business and law and this is way beyond me. Why not have two scorings, one for the drinkability and leave it at that? My eyes glazed over after the first paragraph...if I can't grok it I'm sure there are others having difficulty as well. otherwise, love the site.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 8:18 PM


  • Snooth User: hhotdog
    Hand of Snooth
    78705 465

    well...i love the idea that more information is better. how to get it to the reader in a single simple point score seems distracting. two clearer different scores seems to be the better way for me to get your rating on a wine. hey, i am in my rookie season still and getting a complex scoring on a wine from the seasoned pro is still a bit intimidating and takes way too much concentration on the scoring process. i think even with the two seperate score without the commentary after the scores seem kinda useless? the two scores can get your curiosity going to bring you into the commentery. when was it grround in stone that one scoring system was the only way to decribe a rating on a wine? love that you are on your weay to braking the mold...and you are asking us for input to help i welcoming shows your real desire to bring it to the readers!

    Mar 21, 2011 at 9:51 PM


  • Snooth User: Bgofast
    586602 15

    Been a member of the Opimian Society (a wine buying club based in Canada) for decades and we have used a double ranking system forever - one of which is drinkability. I think it works well, so I would go with the two number system rather than an average of the two.

    P.S. Sorry to be the annoying grammarian, but another comment referred to the portion of a curved line graph as an ark. That is an arc. An ark is a ship, as in Noah's Ark or a box or chest, as in Ark of the Covenant.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 9:53 PM


  • Snooth User: erniex
    634476 60

    Ill back the apparent consensus that 2 scores to reflect each character would be the better option. But would also like to see an estimated drinking window which most critics add to a score and description of a wine already.
    F.ex. when judging a big Cabernet, it doesn´t really make sense to judge it on where it is, but rather on its potential which is a large part of its quality in the first place.

    1 issue i do take with this system is, that the BV score would almost always promote the simpler wines. And wanting to drink the whole bottle is not necessarily a quality measure. It all depends on the situation and purpose.
    I was lucky to taste a glass of the 2001 Dal Forno Amarone the other day. A 17% monster of a wine that is just over the top in so many ways.
    The one glass was impressive and no doubt of outstanding quality, but not a wine I would drink a bottle of with any meal. So in your example it would come to score of not more than 80 or so. Somehow I find that questionable.
    Id rather call it an outstanding wine with limited purpose.
    guess some things just dont translate into simple figures... funny we have that need in the first place.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 9:54 PM


  • Snooth User: hhotdog
    Hand of Snooth
    78705 465


    ... you are asking us for input to help "is" welcoming and shows your real desire to bring it to the readers

    Mar 21, 2011 at 9:57 PM


  • It's almost like you are rating the potential of the wine (by the standard quality metric) and the actualilty of the wine (by the BV metric).
    It can take some of the general subjectiveness out of ratings by allowing the subjectiveness to go into the second rating and potentially standardizing the first rating.
    Let's see some of the ratings start up and where they go from there.

    Mar 21, 2011 at 10:27 PM


  • Sorry - "I think almost everyone would agree that water is more drinkable than vodka" - why? Because you can drink more of it?

    Absurd.

    Mar 22, 2011 at 5:01 AM


  • Snooth User: hollyveira
    706116 11

    Great idea, just needs some fine tuning. But don't overdo it, with 3 plus scores. As for the arc/"ark" :) of the wine, the tradition of the vintner will speak for it. I guess.

    Mar 22, 2011 at 7:31 AM


  • Snooth User: riredbird
    440209 128

    A sommelier taught me a great simple scale

    1- I'll be polite and finish the glass
    2- I'll finish the bottle but probably won't buy it
    3- I'll buy it by the bottle
    4- I'll buy a case

    Mar 22, 2011 at 10:15 AM


  • Gregory. I'm philosopher and a Brazilian wine lover. I think your proposal very interesting and useful. But don’t you think that drinkability is objective? For the assertion that water is more drinkable than vodka is not plainly *subjective*; people can agree about that if they understand what *drinkable* contextually means (for it is not an assertion made of course in the context of wodka tasting). It is an objective assertion about what people generally think about their tasting experiences (contextually). Besides that, in the case of wine tasting, we have what David Hume called the delicacy of taste; a fine quality of our tasting capacities that we expect can be improved by following the judgments of reliable experts like you (or the tasting rules developed by them). But I liked your suggestion. Something like that certainly can improve our buying choices. The problem is that it seems to me a method only useful when we are looking for a *drinkable-now* bottle of wine. How could we compare by your method a 92 points 2005 red bordeax and a 92 points 2005 (ready for now) Chilean Cabernet, for example? How can we know about future drinkability?

    Mar 22, 2011 at 10:16 AM


  • Snooth User: smtanner
    615584 25

    it's bevIbilità, by the way. Interesting article

    Mar 22, 2011 at 10:52 AM


  • Love that scale riredbird. I've always been frustrated by the difference between a 91 point wine and a 95. The 91 is the same old good shiraz and cab you drink every weekend, but the 95 is a wine of the year badass nectar you never forget. These are of course broad generalizations, but I imagine most can relate. There is no way they are only 4 percentage points away from each other! What's wrong with using an entire scale? The 100 point scale takes away the zero to perfect logic innate in us all and it makes us rate in a highly arbitrary manner.

    That said I actually think this article is a step in the right direction; kudos for trying to improve the status quo, Greg.

    Mar 22, 2011 at 11:49 AM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 211,229

    Marco,

    Absolutely. These ratings are extremely subjective and the ancillary point of the Bv score would be to reveal more details about the palate of the taster so that readers are better able to understand what the rater likes and dislikes.

    Just for fun the 92 point 2005 Bordeaux might have a Bv score of 75, while the Chilean Cabernet may be 85. That yields two scores, the Bordeaux at 84 pts and the Chilean Cabernet at 89pts. It would indicate that while I thought both wines were qualitatively equal one is better today than the other!

    Mar 22, 2011 at 12:25 PM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 211,229

    Hi Creole!

    Thanks very much. I agree with your general idea, though a 91 to me is pretty fine, but my old good shiraz is probably an 87 or 88 which is not that far off the mark.

    Thanks for your kind words. Going to keep heading in that direction to see where it takes us!

    Mar 22, 2011 at 12:26 PM


  • Snooth User: BG422
    343567 19

    Greg,

    I get it, but I don't get it. The first score represents your evaluation of the wine. But it seems to me that the BV scores are the equivalent of saying, "A versatile wine that will match with a lot of foods. Drink it now." Versus, "This wine displays outstanding balance but needs two or three years cellaring to calm the tannins." Or "drink this with hearty well-seasoned meat dishes," or whatever is appropriate to that wine. I think it's a GREAT idea to emphasize these aspects of the wine when reviewing it. And those aspects of the wine are certainly more useful to someone who might want to give it a try than stressing nuances of dried apple seeds. But do we need another score?

    And the system suggests constant revision in the wine's evaluation. My question is, how often are you going to come back to wines you've previously scored to give us the latest update. Do you have that kind of time? As I said, I get it but I don't get it.

    Mar 22, 2011 at 11:01 PM


  • Snooth User: cosmoscaf
    256062 54

    I heartily endorse the process you have begun and I hope you follow it through to a generally acceptable system. Like most others, though, I have a couple suggestions.

    The pairing score does not strike me as important. I like Chablis, but in my opinion, it would get a low pairing score. Compared to a mediocre Riesling that pairs with anything, a good Chablis would lose every time. The same would happen with many wines: Port, Picpoul, Champagne, Sauterne . . . The pairing score encourages a less diverse market, especially for those who do not wish to spend the amount of time and thought people like those on this list are willing to give. Of course, that would mean lower prices for some really excellent stuff, too, wouldn't it.

    I, too, think the scores should be broken out so that you'd do something like this. Q=x Bv=y P=z and then a chart.

    OK... that's a bit rococo, admittedly, but all that information is good to have when purchasing a wine. Including it with a review would be very useful.

    Mar 22, 2011 at 11:52 PM


  • Snooth User: colinb23
    539059 11

    The sommelier 4 point scale is a great way for the drinker - you and, especially, me - to score the wine in front of us at this moment but no help when shopping for wine, unless you are buying what you already know. Initially the only person you trust is yourself but from there you may build up a list of known enthusiasts who consistently recommend or open new wines to share with you that you also like - presumably because they have very similar tastes/palates/likes as yourself.
    So, sadly, however neat the sommelier score it is of limited help so far as a wine review is concerned as it does not value the future potential of the wine. There seems to be at least three 'simple' number scores that could help anyone not themselves a real expert - such as myself -
    Score 1. what the wine is like now (similar to bv) and
    Score 2. some idea of when the wine might be at its peak - plus
    Score 3. what it may develop into.
    Number 1 is very subjective and personal while 2 and 3 require more experience then most/many of us have, unfortunately.
    ( The food pairing part is less easy because everyone has different likes and dislikes and develop their own favourites. )
    This could be called the Now/When/Then scale (NWT for short) and might look like 89/2015-20/93 for a good bottle of shiraz, say. This way the likely improvement with ageing is very readily apparent. All that is left is for me and you to try out several reviewers to see which, if any, can be trusted to agree with us! They will then prove useful and worthy of our attention which, I am sure, is what they all crave to have!

    Mar 24, 2011 at 2:34 AM


  • Adding on what Marco Azevedo said, drinkability is quite quite subjective... my wife considers a Lambrusco drinkable. For me it is not, it is too weak and too sweet. So, using the same standard for evaluations, we would derive in a very different score. And just like 'americanstorm' said, some times I just want to drink a wine, therfore I do not care if it pair with food. On the other hand, I am a "meat lover", therefore, in my "subjective pairing analysis" reds will get greater score. My friend only eat fish. Her scoring will benefit whites...
    Too subjective...
    At the end of the day, as said by Willin Sokolin good wines are those that "starts and ends with a smile". That is all that counts...

    Mar 24, 2011 at 8:13 AM


  • I like the idea of keeping the 2 scales separate. Thanks for your thoughts.

    Mar 24, 2011 at 8:34 PM


  • Snooth User: rayeverett
    144418 19

    I like the idea of keeping the scores separate, but also seeing the composite score. I think the composite score does tell you something useful in terms of the experience at that moment in time. If a Frappato is an 89, but it's so delightful that it feels in that moment like a 93, then that's a good thing to know. But more importantly if that Cabernet is destined to be a 92, but needs 5 years before it tastes like it, then seeing a composite score of 86 tells me something very valuable in a short hand way without having to break out my sliderule to decipher another scoring framework. Bravo Gregory!

    Mar 25, 2011 at 7:59 PM


  • Dear Gregory, your article about the drinkability index of wines is now a couple of years old, but I believe it is so important that you should make a full proposal of how the scoring system should work and put it out on a blog so people can talk about it and,yes, maybe it will become an accepted and used system when evaluating wines as I believe it should.
    A few weeks ago we had a discussion here about how some wines are considered good or excellent using the classical points system but that we could only drink at the most a glass when we tried these wines. They were usually quite heavily oaked high alcohol and low acidity. in contrast our wines http://www.vinhoscortem.com win less points at wine challenges and for example are completely ignored by portuguese challenges although we won medals at the IWC in London with the same wines. We feel our wines are very drinkable so we came up with the word drinkability to measure this property. As you say the simple test is to put a few bottles on the table for an evening with wine loving friends and note which bottles empty first!. so eventually I checked the internet for drinkability and found your article which has all the elements we were thinking about. Great! Now all you need to do is finish the concept and make it public. Maybe Mr Parker and others will eventually recognise that this BV index is just as important in evaluating a wine (for drinking). it is interesting to note that wine tasters, and tasting experts mostly do not drink the wine but do all the tasting in the mouth and nose spitting the wine out as a final gesture. Having been at several wine fairs including the Millesime bio in Montpelier I always find this a terrible waste especially when they spit our wines out!!
    Anyway it would be great if you would like to finish the concept of drinkability and your scoring system and make it more available for wine experts and the public to think about and adopt.
    " The Bevebilita Score, a new points system for wine evaluation based on the enjoyment factor when drinking" by Gregory Dal Piaz.
    I would really like also to tell people about your idea either by putting your article on our website or linking it to Snooth which is probably a better idea. Please let us know if we can use a link to your article in Snooth, when talking about drinkabilty either on our website or facebook.

    Thanks again for a great idea. I am sure it will catch on as it must! Looking forward to hearing from you. Chris Price. My mail is c.price@gmx.de

    Mar 10, 2013 at 4:41 AM


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