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Is Your Wine Headed for the Honor Roll or Detention?

Is your wine diligently hitting the books and working on extra credit assignments? Or is it hanging out in the parking lot, smoking cigarettes and cutting class? A site called BeverageGrades is here to act as Principal and Guidance Counselor. After agreeing to a Terms of Service whose length is akin to War and Peace if half of it was in all caps, you can view wines tested in their lab and rated in categories like "Healthy Pour" and "Skinny Grade". The former is based on the presence of good and bad things in the wine, the later related to its caloric content.

Curiously, BeverageGrades uses a five-star system rather than an A to F grading system. What, no 100 point scale?

Exact amounts of substances present, like sugar, sulfites, and sodium are not revealed, but rather a wine is rated has having them present in levels "Worse Than Average", "Better Than Average", or "Above Average" compared to other wines in its category.

BeverageGrades has also authored an alarmist press release about the levels of arsenic and lead in popular wines. This prompted John Kelly, writing in Notes From The Winemaker, to retort as well as call into question BeverageGrades methodology:

"This lab is attempting to establish itself as an arbiter of which wines are 'healthier' than others on a range of metrics. Rather than provide actual levels of 'unhealthy' components in wines in the context of the range of levels of these same components found in comparable serving sizes of other foods, they claim they are using a proprietary algorithm to weight the levels they measure — however accurately, or inaccurately — by non-transparent and therefore arbitrary criteria in order to generate a one-to-five-star 'ranking' for individual wines. While Federal law prohibits wine producers from making health claims about their products, third parties such as this lab are, surprisingly, exempt from this injunction."

What do you think of the service BeverageGrades is providing and do you share Kelly's concern about its research?

Enjoy a short video about BeverageGrades, set to peppy music:

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