Competitions, scores & classifications – no-one ever said it was going to be easy
This month’s edition of Decanter landed on the doormat this morning and it’s the Decanter World Wine Awards edition, with 344 pages dedicated to the winners of “International Trophies”, Gold, Sliver and Bronze medals. 219 judges, tasting over 14,000 wines, decide the awards. The wines are tasted blind and are grouped by country, region, grape and price bracket, so certainly act as a good barometer for what’s hot and what’s not… but they only judge wines that have been entered into the competition. Then there’s the International Wine Challenge, the International Wine and Spirit Competition, the Sommelier Wine Awards… how the heck are we supposed to decide what’s good and what’s not?
As well as these annual wine competitions there are also the scores from Jancis, Bob, James, Tim and a host of other experts… plus those from the not so experts (blushes!). Its getting quite complex isn’t it? How are we supposed to decide what to buy? What criteria do we use to determine whether a £10 bottle of Chardonnay from Burgundy is any better than a £5 bottle of Chardonnay from Chile?
To make things even more confusing there’s also the various classification systems. But they’re all different too… France alone has the 1855 classification for (part of) Bordeaux, then there’s the Grand Crus of Burgundy 1936 (and Premier Crus), Alsace (1983) and Champagne and regional classification (AOC’s) for everywhere else. In other countries the major classification is by region, but only in some is it official (e.g. AVA’s in USA) but all this does this tell you where it comes from!
The point of classification is to make selection a decision easier… then why is there no single way of determining the quality of wine?
Maybe one day we’ll get to single classification that will decide how much we pay for our wine… But I very much doubt it! And anyway, where would be the fun in finding out for ourselves, trusting our own judgement, wasting lots of money on bad over-priced wine and getting a huge rush from finding that amazing bargain at Aldi?
Whoever said loving wine was going to be easy? Good luck!