Wine Tasting Guide

How James Halliday's wine rating system works and how to use it

James Halliday by James Halliday

There has been a progressive adoption of the 100-point system in wine shows and in reviews by other commentators. The majority follow the system outlined below, and which the Halliday Tasting Team use in precisely this form in the Wine Companion.

Wine Ratings






5 glasses - red



Wines of major trophy standard in important wine shows.


5 glasses - black


Wines of gold medal standard, usually with a great pedigree.








5 glasses - black

Wines on the cusp of gold medal status.


4.5 glasses

Highly Recommended

Wines of silver medal standard, demonstrating great quality, style and character, and worthy of a place in any cellar.








4 glasses


Wines on the cusp of silver medal standard.


4 glasses

Wines of bronze medal standard; well produced, flavoursome wines, usually not requiring cellaring.


3.5 glasses


Wines of good commercial quality, free from significant fault.



Not Rated

Wines reviewed but scored below 84 points.

  Value wine

Special value

Wines considered to offer special value for money within the context of their glass symbol status. This can apply at any price point, and for consistency a basic algorithm is applied to take into account the price of a wine and the points it is awarded. A value rosette is given, for instance, to $11 wines scoring $85 or more points, $21 wines scoring 90 or more, $35 wines of 95 or more and $200 wines with 98 or more.

 Regional standouts

Shortlisted for an award

Nominated by the tasting panel as the best example of this variety/ style in its region.

Five red glasses

The initials EL, JF, JH, JP, NG, DB, PR and TS appearing at the end of a tasting note signify that Erin Larkin, Jane Faulkner, James Halliday, Jeni Port, Ned Goodwin, Steven Creber, Tony Love or Tyson Stelzer tasted the wine and provided the tasting note and rating. Biographies for each member of the tasting team and their regions can be found here.

To 2039

The optimal time to drink a wine is of course subjective; some of us love young wines and others old. This is as personal to the taster as their review and their score. We have proposed dates according to when we would most love to drink this wine, and we commend these to you as a reference for managing your cellar and when to drink each bottle. 

Screw cap

The closures in use for the wines tasted in 2020-2021 were (in descending order): screw cap, one-piece natural, Diam and crown seal. The remaining closures are, in order of importance, Vino-Lok, agglomerate, Twin Top, synthetic cork, ProCork, Zork and Zork SPK. It seems the market dominance of screw caps has almost plateaued, with the biggest shift a continuing move from natural cork to Diam.


This piece of information is in one sense self-explanatory. What is less obvious is the increasing concern of many Australian winemakers about the rise in levels of alcohol, and much research and practical experimentation (for example picking earlier or higher fermentation temperatures in open fermenters) is occurring. Reverse osmosis and yeast selection are two of the options available to decrease higher-than-desirable alcohol levels. Recent changes to domestic and export labelling mean the stated alcohol will be within a maximum of 0.5% difference to that obtained by analysis.


Prices are provided by the winery, and should be regarded as a guide, particularly if purchased retail.