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Controversial article in the Times today discussing the role of wine competitions. Are, as they suggest, just money making schemes for the organisers or ‘scrupulously fair’ and impartial events that highlight the very best wines available and give un-represented wonders exposure to the market?
Specifically looking at the two UK events – the International Wine Challenge and the World Wine Awards – the first run by Wine International, the latter by Decanter Magazine. It is well known that Wine would have closed years ago if it wasn’t for the income generated from the IWC. They are mammoth undertakings – try organising 9,000 different wines, the multitude of tasters, runners and so on. Are they totally fair though? Over the years some surprising wines have been awarded the top accolades; results that were put down, amongst the trade, due to the amount of money spent or special advertising deals, unsubstantiated of course, but widely accepted.
And don’t get me started on the printed results – page after page of little tasting notes. Who reads these? I am much more interested in the smaller focused tastings such as the New Wave Spanish Wine Awards and the Top Vin De Pays Awards both organised by Off Licence News.


The Times

“Several of the top wine competitions hand out several thousand types of award, rendering most accolades absolutely worthless, he said, adding that his view was shared by many experts. He said: “Who is benefiting from these awards? It has to be the wine houses who clear their stock, the supermarkets who can drum up sales from promotions, and the companies which organise the competition. I am not convinced the consumer gets anything out of it.”
UPDATE: BBC Radio 4 You and Yours, available for the next week on listen again, has a debate on the issue between Robert Joseph and Martin Izak. Lasting for about 6 minutes the discussion starts 20 minutes into the program.

2 Comments »

  1. Ryan Opaz says:

    I’m in complete agreement. While the awards do sell wine, speaking from the point of view of a past retailer, the buyers rarely say much other than: “Well it won an award, it must be good!” With the buy in to get your wines “rated” being so high for so many of them and the scope being so large, there is no way they can argue that the wines are being “objectively” rated.

  2. Per Karlsson says:

    Personally, reading about all those awards are not my favourite reading.
    Then again, it seems the producers think that an award or a medal sells.
    And I can’t, of course, avoid mentioning our own niche wine competition, The Scandinavian Wine Fair in Paris! (For Scandinavians making wine in wine country. NOT primarily for wine made in Scandinavia.). See here:
    http://www.bkwine.com/winefair/winefair-2006.htm

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