I’m definitely not the wine drinker that can discern a bottle of 88-point wine from one that is far off the radar of any wine rating agency, but I definitely do know what I like and don’t like. And that’s how I found myself sitting in a large convention hall staring at glasses of wine at 8am on a quiet Saturday morning.
I signed up to be a taster for the Consumer Wine Awards, an annual competition that has normal non-professional wine enthusiasts judge wines on their drinkability rather than a 100-point scale. Signing up for the event was a breeze. I went to the website, took the “My Vinotype” test, and then filled out a small form where I chose what wines I’d be interested in tasting (Roses, Ports & Fruity whites please!). I received an email a few weeks later stating that I had been selected for a morning panel, and I paid $25 in support of the event to secure my tasting spot. Then all I had to do was show up, sip (not drink) 20 glasses of wine, and share my thoughts using a simple 8-point scale!
The judging formula was simple. Take a taste of wine (sip and spit) and then place the glass on the ranking you would give it. The scale ranged from 0 (Dislike. Period.) to 7 (Wow! This is as good as it gets!).
A trolley with each flight of wine a made its way around the room and dropped off glasses meticulously labeled with their secret codes. My group was selected to taste 20 roses & a few other sweeter wines that morning.
We were on the clock to spend 3 minutes tasting each glass, with the whole room collectively sipping and judging a single glass of wine in each interval. Our Procter would come by and collect our scores for each glass and we would sign off on them on an official sorting sheet. The timer kept announcing “next glass” and continued on through the hour and beyond.
During this time, the whole room smelled delightfully like a wine cellar as people sipped and cheerfully chatted with their tablemates and procters.
I sipped and ate crackers and washed my mouth with a concoction known as “bug juice” which was designed top get your palette back to neutral between sips. And I judged.
Among my 20 wines my scores were:
0: 2, 1: 3, 2: 4, 3: 4, 4: 2, 5: 3, 6: 2, 7:0
And the most important lesson I learned? That is really hard to judge wines without swallowing. I went home and tried to assign scores to the wines we had on hand, and it was rough. One too many swishes in the mouth and a great wine turned into a sour one!
As for the 2015 results? Well… you can find all of them here!
Here are the wines that I tasted that received a GOLD rating:
Barefoot Pink Moscato $6.99
90 Gold Best of Class – All Blush & Rosés
[I gave it a 4]
Gallo Family Vineyards Pink Moscato $4.99
89 Gold Best Bargain Wines (George Taber Awards)
[I gave it a 5]
Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi 2014 Muscat Hamburg $14.00
[I gave it a 5]
And just for fun… here are the two wines that my table neighbor raved about (and awarded scores of 6) that received gold:
Vino Noceto 2014 Moscato Bianco Frivolo $17.00
Fetzer Vineyards Gewurztraminer $9.99
I feel slightly vindicated that none of the wines I gave scores of 0/1 to are ranked on the list… but my favorite wine of the day received an overall score of “82.” Goes to show just how hard it is to get a high overall score I guess! There were only 63 wines that received a Gold rating from the all day tasting!
p class=”MsoNormal” style=”margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt;”>So who wants to come and judge with me next year?!?