Tu seras mon fils," that I would give it 3 stars on a 5-star scale. How many points on the 100-point wine scale is that?
It's not an easy question, nor is it irrelevant this time of year. We're all choosing movies to see, buying Christmas presents we haven't heard, and buying wines we haven't tasted.
I'm a big fan of using Metacritic in building my wish list for Santa. Metacritic compiles text reviews from magazines and uses an algorithm to convert them to the 100-point scale. Because I'd rather listen to an 80-point Jack White album than a 90-pointer from Taylor Swift, I read the reviews, which of course you should do with wine, and the algorithm is reasonably good.
Metacritic rates albums from about 60 to 100. Movie critics rate movies from zero to 5 stars. But as we all know, the 100-point scale for wine is really only about 82 to 100.
Is there some factual basis for this?
Wines these days are almost never flawed and undrinkable. At worst, they're unbalanced or dull.
We often complain that a bad movie is unwatchable. But when was the last time you left the theatre early? I'll bet we leave bottles unfinished far more often. Moreover, one man's zero-star movie is another man's "Glen or Glenda," the rare film that has the potential to bring literal meaning to ROFL.
I find bad music the most unbearable of the three -- and yet, Metacritic doesn't go to zero for albums. (Pitchfork does, on the 100-point scale, sometimes with appropriate visuals.)
Anyway, I reviewed movies before I did wine. A 3-star movie, on a 5-star scale, is above average. It's a film that fans of the genre would enjoy, but it's not a crossover; if you don't like romances or action films or whatever, you won't like it. Even for genre fans, it's not going to be one of the best of the year. It's diverting, two hours pleasantly spent.
So where does that sit on a wine scale? Maybe it should be an 80. But in the way the 100-point scale is used today, I'd have to say 88. If it's an 89, that has crossover appeal. If it's an 87, that's probably average for its genre, not above average.
Wow. Just another way of realizing how tightly squeezed we are by the modern 100-point scale. To wit:
5 stars = 97-100
4 1/2 stars = 94-96
4 stars = 91-93
3 1/2 stars = 89-90
3 stars = 88
2 1/2 stars = 85-87
2 stars = 81-84
1 1/2 stars = 80
1 star = 78-79
0 stars = anything lower
That's about right, huh? I mean, "right" in the sense of "that's how we use it," not "that's how it should be."