Tim Atkin | Master of Wine

Articles

5th Feb 2018

So You Wanna Be a Wine Judge.Com

by Ron Washam

 

Hello! And welcome to So You Wanna Be a Wine Judge.Com!, your online wine judge certification program. Once you complete this simple online course, you’ll be completely qualified to judge in any wine competition in the world! You may even be overqualified. It’s a little-known fact that proven wine knowledge is not required to be a wine judge at many major wine competitions. Believe it or not, it’s actually frowned upon! Expert opinions are overrated, tiresome, and unwelcome where real people judge wine. What is required? You’re about to find out! Let’s begin.

Lesson 1: How Wine Competitions Work

Wine producers are solicited by wine competitions to submit wines for judging. The winery pays a fee for every wine submitted to be judged. The fees are paid upfront. This is contrary to wines submitted for professional review, which are provided for free in the hope of securing a high rating from an influential critic. The winery pays later for those submissions, either for advertising, the picture of the label being published alongside the review, or for pouring their highly-rated wines at the publications “Experiences”. The difference between entering a wine for competition versus submitting a wine for a professional review is, then, essentially the same as the difference between prostitution and marriage. It’s about when payment is due.

Paying to have your wine judged in a wine competition guarantees you will get a fair shake, or your money back! Think of wine competitions as the Oprah Winfrey of wine. “You get a medal! You get a medal! And you get a medal! EVERYBODY gets a medal!” And then you can gloat about how you got a medal!

Lesson 2: Wine Judge Qualifications

1. You can spit, right?

Lesson 3: The Medals

New wine judges are often confused about which medal to award to the wine they are tasting. It doesn’t matter. Honestly, just award a medal and move on. That’s what all the other judges are doing. Remember what every “wine expert” says about wine? That you should just drink what you like? Here’s a hint. Everyone that gives you that advice is an idiot. All of them. You don’t know enough about wine to know what’s good, and it’s often best to just admit that. When you defend your wine opinions with the words, “I know what I like,” that’s not good enough. “I know what I like” is what pyromaniacs and paedophiles say, too.

However, it’s good to have an idea of what each medal represents. It may vary from competition to competition, but these will work for the sort of third-rate judging you’ll be a part of.

BRONZE: When you win a bronze medal in the Olympics, it means that you are the third best in your category in the world. That’s impressive. Only two are better than you. In a wine competition, a bronze medal signifies that you made a wine that the judges hated, but couldn’t find anything wrong with technically, so they had to award you a bronze. So it’s as if you received a bronze medal at the Summer Olympics only because you ran 100 meters, didn’t fall down, and stayed in your lane, even though you weigh 400 pounds, finished in fifteen minutes and your balls were hanging out of your shorts the whole time, and you’re not on the Russian women’s track and field team. Wineries do not want bronze medals, which is exactly why wine judges award them the most often.

SILVER: As a first-time wine judge, it’s best to remember that you are not tasting the great wines of the world when you’re judging a competition. Those wines are never entered in wine competitions. They can only lose. A wine competition’s goal is to make second-class wines appear to rival great wines by giving them shiny medals. This is how the wine business works. Gold medals for rather pedestrian wines are the equivalent of letters affixed to your name that are awarded for passing a test and learning a party trick. A Master Sommelier is just a Gold Medal wine lover. You see how this works? Take something average, have a few questionably qualified people judge it, award it something with imaginary prestige, and, bingo, you have a Gold Medal Wine, or Larry Anosmia MS.

A silver medal is for when a wine is just not good enough to win a meaningless gold medal. Yes, it’s better than the bronze medal wine with its balls hanging out, but how hard is it to be better than a wine all the judges hated? In some ways, then, a silver medal is worse than a bronze. A silver medal is better than nothing and less than meaningless. Oddly, that’s how great wineries feel about wine competitions, too.

GOLD: There’s one important piece of advice for every new wine judge. Say Gold as often as you can. It’s simple. If the wine is fine and you want to say Bronze, you might as well go ahead and say Silver. And if it’s a Silver Medal wine, you know that’s worthless, so you might as well just say Gold. This will endear you to the head of the competition as well. Too many new judges try to show how knowledgeable and particular they are at their first competition, but that’s not why they hired you! Get over yourself. Reluctance to say, “Gold!” as a wine judge doesn’t make you savvy and knowledgeable, it makes you next year’s volunteer.

A gold medal wine is supposed to be the best thing you’ve put in your mouth since Jay Z’s fingers. But don’t set your standards too high, either. After all, the consumers who purchase a wine because it received some random gold medal don’t. Why should a wine judge?

DOUBLE GOLD: Consumers have no idea what a double gold medal is. Siamese? No. A double gold wine is one that every judge on the panel awarded a gold medal. It’s like when every judge on “Dancing with the Stars” gives a 10. Everyone gets excited, but the truth is it’s still an ex-figure skater doing the Rhumba with a disgraced former Mouseketeer, not Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. It’s not even Fred Astaire and Kenny Rogers. A double gold medal wine is exactly like a “Star” on “Dancing with the Stars” — a very loose definition.

It’s important to remember competitions love to award gold and double gold medals, and wineries love to receive them. It’s industry people giving awards to industry people to convince the public of their greatness. Wine competitions are the Academy Awards without the gowns, though sexual harassment is all the rage! Doesn’t that sound like fun? Now that you’ve learned all you need to know here on SoYouWantToBeAWineJudge.Com, proceed to the next page, take our quiz, submit your reasonable fee, and receive your Official Wine Judge Certificate today!

Did we hear somebody say, “Gold!”?

Related topics: Column

Browse articles

 
 
 
blog comments powered by Disqus