FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

What do you mean by a Wine-Friendly warehouse?
Bring a coat if you are going to stay a while...

The "bricks-and-mortar" store which is home to our internet wine boutique is only heated to 55 degrees in the winter months, and has natural coolness for the summer. We take advantage of brick and cement construction, as well as a nearly window-less environment to keep the summer heat out. If the temperature inside happens to rise above the mid-60's, the air-conditioning kicks in.

Wine-friendliness also means avoidance of light. While flourescent lights are a necessary evil, we keep them turned off most of the time. Also, the lack of window space keeps direct sunlight out. Wine likes it cool and dark, and that is definitely
something that BrightWines.com has that most wine shops do not!

Why is the newsletter called The Beacon?
It has to do with leit motif, but that's another story. (sorry about the bad pun)

The real answer is simply that I like lighthouses, it plays off the idea of "bright" wines, and it lends itself to plenty of references, catch-phrases and puns. Lighthouses were also the inspiration for the BrightWines.com logo that you see on the top of this page. In case you were wondering, BrightWines means many things. For example, "bright" can mean smart, well-chosen, exciting, interesting, etc. etc. and is also a great "taste profile" for a wine to have. A bright beam of burnished berry in that Beaujolais.
There are also a wonderful few lines of an ode by Percy Bysshe Shelley that is featured on the front page of this website.

O, thou Bright Wine whose purple splendor
leaps and bubbles gaily from this golden bowl
under the lamplight, as my spirits do.

What is the BrightWines.com rating system?
Simply put, an effort to relate my opinion of a wine in terms of both quality and value.

From a sales perspective, obviously there will be a bit of bias in the ratings. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? BrightWines.com seeks out wines that provide very good quality and value to the customer. This means that most of the wines that are recommended on this website will probably rate at least a B for quality and 3-stars for value. BrightWines.com is going to try very hard to be objective in rating wines, and we will always provide information about write-ups from Wine Spectator and Parker and others. Hopefully, you will come to find that if a wine doesn't measure up, I wouldn't buy it for my personal cellar; and won't try to sell some to you.

The BrightWines.com rating system attempts to convey my opinion of a wine’s relative quality and value. I feel strongly that most wine lovers and collectors are basing their purchasing decisions on both of these factors.

If you relly want to delve into the rationale behind all this, check out the newsletter archive (under construction) Wine Ratings part 1 & Wine Ratings part 2 or read on for the short version...

The BrightWines.com rating system has two parts.

The Quality Scale is from A+ through F and is based on the100 point scale. The 100 point scale is very popular and actually works quite well. However, it is very difficult to precisely define the difference between a 91 and a 92 point wine. By assigning letter grades to a range of numeric scores, we can achieve the same goal as the 100 point scale while acknowledging that it is impossible to be perfectly precise. I have found that it is easier to get wine lovers to agree on a letter grade than to get agreement on one number.

The Quality scale is as follows:

A+ (97-100 points); A (93-96 points); A- (90-92 points)

B+ (87-89 points); B (83-86 points) B- (80-82 points) And so on...

The Value Scale is simpler, but can be just as important as the Quality scale. The Value scale is based on a 4-star system but with allowances made for price, collectability, rarity, and style. The scale is as follows: (hopefully we won't see too many zero-star wines)

4 stars: A Steal! (no excuse for not trying to find some)

3 stars: Good Value. (look for these, well worth the price of admission)

2 stars: Above Average (better than many in its price range)

1 star: Fair (priced fairly, but not a bargain... hopefully rates a B or better)

N/A: Not generally Available (or expensive, but sometimes money is no object)

Not every wine available from BrightWines.com will be an A+ and **** . We have a name for that special category of wine; it’s called The Holy Grail. However, we will always be on the lookout for those wines that represent good quality and good value. If you have opinions or reactions to a wine rating, please feel free to pass it along. If you want to try your hand at rating a wine from your own cellar using this system, write it up and we’ll post it in the Library Notes page of the website. If you have a suggestion for how to improve this rating system, pass it along. In the final analysis, the ratings are just a way for us (and you) to compare notes on how much we enjoyed a wine.


If you have a question, send it to brightwines@brightwines.com