Whether you’re new to drinking wine and not sure where to start, or want to send a gift to delight the wine lover in your life, understanding how wines are rated will help you approach wine shopping with confidence.

How Wines Are Scored

Wines are graded on a standard 100-point scale, and wines rated 90 points or higher are considered in the wine industry to be an exceptional wine. Ratings can come from professional wine critics, wine competitions, or wine bloggers or wine publications. These trusted sources are generally educated and trained in wine tasting, so they have a good baseline to compare and score wines. To ensure the ratings are neutral and uninfluenced, wines are tasted and rated blind.

While critics and publications give wines ratings in points and grades, wines can earn medals when entered into wine competitions. Wines that earn Gold or even Double Gold are considered the most prestigious.

The Sunset International Wine Competition

Every year, the Sunset International Wine Competition recognizes the best wines produced internationally. Sunset is one of the most respected wine competitions and over 3,000 entries were received in 2023, including notable vineyards like Wente, Benzinger, Dark Horse, Bogle, Chloe, Elk Cove, Hahn, J. Lohr, Dry Creek, Baron Herzog, and King Estate.

Standard to the wine industry, wines in this competition are scored on a 100-point scale and given ratings of Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Only wines scoring 90 points or more are eligible for Gold. Sunset’s panel of judges is made up of winemakers, educators, researchers, sommeliers, wine retail buyers, and qualified media members.

Give Award-Winning Wines

Several wines available exclusively at Hickory Farms were awarded medals during the 2023 Sunset wine competition, including:

Contollo Brut Rosé also won a Double Gold at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, another well-respected and prestigious wine competition.

These 90-point wines make great gifts for every occasion! Award-winning wines are available to shop online as individual bottles and in wine gift baskets. You can find both bottles of award-winning cabernet sauvignon and award-winning chardonnay in our California Getaway Wine Gift Basket.

Shipping 90-Point Wines as a Gift

Gifting wine is a great way to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones. But what is the best way to ship wine so it arrives safely? We’ve got some expert pointers for the best ways to ship wine as a gift.

Discover all of our impressive, delicious wine gifts at hickoryfarms.com!


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