What Do Wine Competitions Really Tell You?

What is a wine competition? 
It is a “blind” tasting by wine experts of large numbers of wines to determine their relative quality on a certain date.

What’s a “blind” tasting? 
A blind tasting simply means the judges have no idea what specific wines they are asting.  The varietal (or type of wine) and the vintage (year the grapes were harvested may be known, but never the brand. All of the wine samples are poured in a separate room into identical glasses that are coded by number or letter, then brought to the judges’ tables.

Which wines are judged? 
The ones that are entered.  It is really the wineries themselves which determine the wines that are tasted.  Some wineries submit many wines in many competitions; others just a few wines in a few competitions; and still others none at all. 

Who are the judges? 
They are a diverse group of “wine experts” from many different professional areas—wine makers, wine educators, wine writers, sommeliers, wine retailers, and more—who all have two things in common: a passion for wine, and daily exposure to it. 

How are the wines judged?    
Each wine is judged on its own merits—color, clarity, aroma, bouquet, taste, aftertaste, and overall quality—rather than as part of a ranking.   In a particular flight, there might be 1 Gold, 3 Silver, and 2 Bronze medals, for example, and 4 receiving no award; but there are no predetermined numbers or percentages of medals.  Normally, sparkling wines and white wines are tasted first, followed by Rosé and red, and finally dessert wines. 

What do the results mean? 
Basically, a wine competition is one moment in time.  The results reflect the collective opinions of expert judges about a specific group of wines on a particular day.  But there is a lot of consistency among different competitions held in different places at different times, so wine competitions really do provide good guidance for purchasing wines.  Ask us how we choose which wines to enter into competition next time you visit.

*Adapted from article by Dana Alexandra.