Articles Tagged wine competitions
“As the world fell, each of us in our own way was broken. It was hard to know who was more crazy… me… or everyone else.”
– Max Rockatansky, Mad Max: Fury Road
I think the wine judging world has officially gone batsh*t crazy. More on that in a minute.
As many of you might have already surmised from my recent updates on The Book of Face, my recent press jaunt to Madeira was, from a tasting perspective, extraordinary. So, there will likely be much more info. to come from that trip soon (after I catch up on writing up some Napa shizzle from the fourth quarter of 2015).
Today, however, I am still reeling (in positive ways) from finally getting my hiney to Madeira, and am just dropping a quick line to let you know about two upcoming wine competitions in which I’ll be playing a small part.
First up: the TexSom International Wine Awards, taking place later this month. This is my first judging stint with TIWA, the organizers of which have apparently lost their minds entirely, as evidenced by my inclusion on a judging lineup consisting primarily of baddass wine people with either “MW or “MS” after their names. I know, I don’t get it, either, but I’m excited to check it out and to return to the Dallas/Fort Worth area (despite the spot being overrun with Cowboys fans).
Next, I’ll be returning as a judge to the venerable Critics Challenge International Wine & Spirits Competition, this year moved up to March. This will be, I think, my fourth stint with CC, and as always I considered myself blessed to be able to work with such a professional, well-organized, and fun group of organizers, volunteers, and judges. I have been lucky enough now to have judged in a not-insignificant number of wine competitions, and I would easily rank CC as one of the best worldwide; it has become one of my favorite long-weekend work gigs of the year.
I know, I know… that was all way too much positivity for a single 1WD post. In fact, we might have just fulfilled the feel-good quotient here for the entire first quarter…
Maybe this is a bit early, but the judging lineup for the 12th annual Critics Challenge International Wine Competition, held in Stay Classy San Diego, has been finalized, and once again I’ll have the honor and pleasure of being one of said critics putting the submitted wines through a GLASS CASE OF EMOTION!!!
Critics Challenge 2015
Previously, the CC has been the origin of many an entertaining and surprising wine find for me, several of which have been reported on these virtual pages. Back in 2013, I was luckily paired up with the irrepressible Leslie Sbrocco, which is kind of like pouring combustible liquid onto a raging fire (let’s not forget that Leslie and I managed to work words such as “Godzilla” and “nipples” into our tasting notes during that incarnation of the CC). Last year, my partner in crime was the elegant and talented Deb Parker Wong, who went ga-ga with me over a wine that eventually made onto the 2014 MIW list here.
So, the expectations I’ve got for CC 2015 are waaaaay high, and I am pretty stoked about being a part of the action.
For more details (or to submit wines), check out criticschallenge.com. For a run-down of how some of the various entrants have fared in previous versions of the Critics Challenge, you can check out the details on their dedicated Wine-Searcher.com page.
Over the next two insane weeks, I’ll be waving to the Midwesterners among you from 30,000 feet as I fly back and forth across our great country twice in order to lend my taste buds (and, no doubt, subsequently further increase not only my frequent flier mileage but also my dental hygiene and surgical fees) to two Left Coast wine competitions.
First, there’s my second stint at the venerable Critics Challenge wine comp., held in (stay classy) San Diego (San Diego is still there, right?), the 11th year for that event, which is unique in its assembly of judges who are pretty much exclusively in the wine journalism/critic biz.
This will be followed shortly (as in, a few days) by my first stint at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, as part of a group of seventeen newly-minted judges joining the cadre at SFIWC this year, its 34th (see inset pic on that as reported by SOMM Journal earlier this month).
The thing that tickles me Provence-rosé-pink about all of this is not so much that I am getting wined, dined and paid for doing something so cool (ok, that does, in fact, tickle me a bit Provence-rosé-pink now that I think about it), but that I know so many of the other judges, and am fortunate enough to call several of them friends. Technically, these are business trips for me, but they are hardly the kind of business trips about which one could complain, particularly when compared to some of the locales, efforts, and intensely driven personalities I frequented in my corporate life (ever been to Hackettstown, NJ; Slough, England; or Stupino, Russia? No? Well, take it from me, you don’t want to be in too much of a hurry to visit).
Let’s just say I’m not complaining!
More to come from all of that (if you’ve got requests on what you’d like to see in terms of coverage out of those comps., shout it out).
Piling onto so-called expert wine evaluators has become all the rage lately. Remember when the California State Fair commercial wine competition judges got steamrolled (again) by data showing that blind tasting medals are awarded in a random distribution?
So expert wine evaluation is all just donkey-bong bunk, right?
Not so fast, Jerky.
According to data collected over the last several months by VineSleuth, it turns out that when we live by the wine evaluation data sword, we also die by the wine data evaluation sword. VineSleuth’s data show that expert wine evaluators “are able to repeat their observations on individual wine samples about 90% of the time” when tasting wines blind.
Now, where I come from, 90% is a sh*t-ton better performance than can be explained by random chance. It suggests that the blind wine evaluation game isn’t so clearly flawed as some might make it out to be.
And before you start manically flailing away at your keyboards typing me flaming e-mails about how the experts chosen for VineSleuth’s analysis must not actually be experts, or that their (patent-pending and proprietary) methodology is somehow flawed, you should know that they ran it with the help of sensory scientists and numerical algorithms researchers/experts, and that they stocked their tasting panels with folks who make their livings tasting wine: winemakers, oenologists, sommeliers, writers… and little ol’ me.
And pretty soon, you’ll be able to test out my work for yourself…
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