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Wine Awards

After visiting more than 300 wineries and tasting rooms in a little over 24 months, we have seen wine awards displayed in a variety of ways. Perhaps the gold, silver or bronze medals are hung around the wine bottle neck, placed on bulletin boards or encased in glass displays. Some wineries are quick to point out the awards whereas others display the awards but don’t mention them.

What do wine awards mean to the consumer? I asked a winemaker that question one day and his response was, “It’s a little like school science fairs when you were in third grade.” Everyone gets some award to make them feel good for their effort.

This idea was reinforced when I came across an article in The Los Angeles Times. The article “Wine Judges are Rather Unsteady, Study Finds,” by Jerry Hirsch is about a study that was done to determine how reliable wine judges are when it comes to tasting wines. The study, by Robert Hodgson, showed that even with the same wine and the same judges, the wine could be judged differently. The study concluded that this was not a reflection on the judges as much as it was the process of judging. After all, after tasting 30 wines multiple times in the same day, one’s taste buds will not be as sensitive as they were with the first taste of the wine.

For wineries to enter their wines into competition, it is an expensive proposition. When submitting wines, they must submit several bottles of the wine and ship the wine to its destination. Is it worth it? In terms of sales, yes. Awards increase the number of sales.

Is there a better way for wineries to have their wines judged?

Cheers! Kathy

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