Sunday, June 17, 2012
Judging wine competitions
I've judged scores of major wine competitions over a couple of decades, and it's been an interesting experience. In the first couple of years, I was quite gratified to learn that my opinions and tastes seemed to be in line with those judges I thought the most knowledgeable, generally but not exclusively other winemakers. A consensus judging, where the judges compare scores and notes with each other before awarding medals as a panel, is certainly more interesting on a personal level, though it's painful when a judge is clearly out of his depth, or hammered from swallowing. (The latter is less common.) I recently judged on a panel with three other winemakers at a competition where the individual scores are taken into the back room and averaged, rather than allowing the judges to reach their own consensus. The awards given to the individual wines judged by the panel can be requested by writing the class and number of the wine and giving the administrators the information on a special sheet of paper. I was just mailed the results: of the three Souzaos and two Tannats I scored as gold medals, only one wine won a gold; there were three bronzes and one goose egg. Peculiar, but as we were supposed to sit there like four dummies in a row, sipping spitting and scribbling, I'll never know what my amiable peers were thinking.