Independent, thorough expert evaluation
The Wein-Plus wine guide lists professional descriptions and ratings for more than 100,000 wines, making it the largest guide of its kind. It is based on strict evaluation criteria, and is updated virtually daily.
Online advantage: always up to date
- The Wein-Plus wine guide is always totally up to date. The Internet provides you with constant direct access to the tasting data base, which grows by several new wines virtually on a daily basis. This is a significant advantage compared to printed wine guides, with many wines already being sold out by the time the book is published.
- Each month, more than 200,000 users visit the Wein-Plus platform. This means the wine guide appears in a high-frequency environment.
- Top producers generally recognise and support the Wein-Plus guide, they submit their wines for tasting and evaluation.
Neutral tasting conditions
- As a matter of principle, each wine is tasted only in the neutral tasting room in Erlangen. Rating wines that have been tasted at trade shows or at the producerâs premises, as is done by some other wine guides, is a total taboo for Wein-Plus.
- Each wine is tasted blind, i.e. at the time of tasting the taster is not aware of which wine it is, nor who the producer is.
- As a matter of principle, wines are tasted in contiguous series together with similar wines, sorted in accordance with logical criteria (alcohol, residual sugar).
- A significant number of wines is tasted at least twice. This allows us to consider the effect of aeration on the wine, and to include this in the rating.
- Barrel samples may not be submitted for tasting.
- Each taster tastes only around 50 wines per eight hour working day. This gives him plenty of time to consider each wine in detail.
- Both the recording of wines and of their tasting notes and ratings is fully computer-based. A sophisticated system of sample numbers and control numbers virtually ensures that errors of entry or incorrect identifications can occur.
- Guests who would like to gain a first-hand impression of tasting conditions are always welcome a tour tasting sessions.
EXCEPTION: The only exception to the abovementioned rules is made in the case of older, often extremely rare and valuable wines, which we taste frequently at appropriate events as well as at other events. In these cases it is not always possible to taste the wines blind. Nevertheless, we would like to share our tasting notes and ratings with you. Even in such cases, we strive to ensure the conditions for a serious assessment are given in as far as is possible. Please bear with us that we can only publish a small part of such tasting experiences here. Even we prefer to drink exceptional wines rather than to write about them.
- Our chief taster and editor-in-chief Marcus Hofschuster has established an outstanding reputation as a conscientious and incorruptible taster. His team, too, consists of experienced tasters with a well-founded education in wine. The ratings
published by Wein-Plus are widely accepted as being reliable, comprehensible and reproducible.
- Cross-checks are carried out regularly. In this case, a taster will re-taste a wine he has already tasted several days ago, naturally without being informed of this. The description and rating are checked to ensure they correspond closely with the original tasting.
- All tasters are employed full-time by the Wein-Plus wine guide.
Rating system for wines
Wines are tasted and rated in accordance with the 100 points system. As is usual internationally, the usable range starts at 50 points. The total rating is composed of the following individual assessments:
- Appearance: 5 points
- Nose: 15 points
- Taste: 25 points
- Overall impression and potential: 5 points
Note: As every producer today is capable of fining and filtering a wine to create a brilliant appearance, we do not attach any great importance to the visual impression. Every wine, unless it has serious colour faults, is awarded 5 points for appearance.
Understanding the points awarded
In the Wein-Plus Guide only wines are included which have achieved a minimum score of 80 points. Therefore, the range between 50 and 79 points is not considered here. Even wines that do not appear in the publication are described in detail and assessed accurately, but the results are only visible to the producers themselves.
The assessment is, as I said, carried out in accordance with the 100-point system, which was borrowed from the school grading system in the USA. It seems there are different views on how this system should be interpreted, we are particularly strict. It has been noted over a period of several years that with most users of this scheme there is a gradual shift of the point scores upward, resulting in an unnatural compression of the system.
In Wein-Plus , the original, strict version is already used at the beginning of the range of recommended wines, at 80 points. Please bear this grading practice firmly in mind that if you use our guide as this is essential for understanding the ratings.
| Very good|
Clean, harmonious, in the best cases typical wines with a recognizable character. In most cases, these wines are already very enjoyable to drink. Basic or entry-level wines placed in this category can already be considered to be well above average. Present good value up to about 8 Euros per bottle.
| Excellent |
Top-quality wines of exceptional quality that deserve the attention of every sophisticated wine drinker. The wine must show typical character, some depth and personality. Present good value up to around 15 Euros.
Wines of world class that ensure an unforgettable sensory experience, and are capable of completely cast a spell over any wine lover. Such prices are frequently worth upwards of 50 Euros.
| Unique |
Wines that can only be made differently, but not better.
Please note that this system is applied by Wein-Plus in a stricter and more differentiated manner than is by now common practice in international publications, which tend to award more and more higher points. For example, here is a comparison of tested wines between Wein-Plus and the Wine Spectator:
Source: own figures and Wine Spectator, issue Jan./Feb. 2006
Classifying the producers
The producer classification is a product of the representative wine tasting ratings achieved by a producer over an extended period of time. It is this classification that gives the reader a first impression of the level of quality of the producer in question. The range spans from to .
The classification is based on the experiences made by our tasting team, working under the strict conditions applicable to the wine guide, with the wines of a particular producer over an extended period of time. It is thus based exclusively on the wines tasted blind in the tasting room in Erlangen. A prerequisite for this is that a classified producer must have submitted a
sufficiently representative sample of his range of wines in recent vintages. If wines are not submitted for a particular vintage, this will lead to a downgrading of the classification.
If no representative range of wines or vintages has been submitted yet, a preliminary classification may be declared. This is indicated by outlined, as opposed to full stars ( to ).
| Good producers|
Producer either with consistently good wines, or one with widely varying results, in which the positive sides predominate, with simple wines or vintages being counterbalanced by above average to excellent results. May be worth buying on a selective basis.
| Very good and reliable producer |
Regularly presents way above average to excellent quality, but weaker wines and vintages may also occur. Usually worth buying.
| Producer showing class at national level|
The wines are at a consistently high level, and a usually among the best in the country in their respective categories. Weaknesses are rare, but may occur in difficult vintages. However, this must be balanced by outstanding ranges in good vintages, to maintain this status.
| Producer showing class at international level|
Producer of first-class wines, that are also regularly among the best of their kind on an international level. Here one can buy anything produced, as mediocre wines occur only very rarely, if at all.
| World class producer |
Wines presented by these producers are among the best of their kind year after year, and the best are practically without any competition. Even more basic wines are excellent almost without exception. Weaknesses or mediocre wines are practically unheard of.
Producers without a star rating will also on occasion produce wines that can be recommended, but do not show the requisite consistency. Really poor wines also crop up occasionally. In this case, we strongly suggest you select carefully, and preferably taste a wine before buying.
The producer classifications are continually under review in the light of current wines submitted and tasted, and may thus be changed over the course of time. Changes in the classification are published twice a year, in spring and in autumn.
Apart from providing an orientation in the wine guide, the classification also has a positive and practical effect when it comes to buying wine. The special seal âClassified Producerâ, which is based on this classification, allows producers to attract more attention, improving the sales opportunities for their wines, merchants use it to upgrade their marketing and to actively support their suppliers, while customers are provided with an easily understandable decision aid, giving them more security in their buying decisions.
Each wine is described in detail, and a forecast is made with regard to what is thought to be the optimum period for drinking. This information should not be seen as a clear âdrink byâ date, it merely provides an indication approximately when, given normal storage conditions, a wine is likely to provide optimum enjoyment. Where a year is stated, this means we expect the wine to present itself in good form at least to the end of the stated year. Many wines remain in good shape far beyond the stated date, but we would not expect them to show any further positive development beyond the stated date. Even backed by our considerable experience, such statements remain approximations. We continuously experience both positive and negative surprises in this regard, especially as the development is strongly dependant on the storage conditions in each case. We regularly hold tastings of older wines at our premises, and these generally tend to confirm our forecasts, allowing us to add to our store of knowledge, in order to make even more accurate forecasts in future.