Medals can give a wine prestige, but the big test is if you like it

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The bling is throughout many a vineyard tasting room. Colourful ribbons draped across the necks of bottles, sporting medals of bronze, silver or gold from a state, regional and even a global competitors. They’re famous on the tasting sheet subsequent to the reserve wine made in small quantities — get it whilst you can, at a premium value.

This racy, fruity sauvignon blanc is an outstanding value at $16

What do these medals inform us as customers? In any case, they present that a number of critical wine lovers serving as judges thought these have been high-quality wines. Wine competitors judges are usually drawn from the trade — distributors, retailers, winemakers and writers. They might be grasp sommeliers or masters of wine, or have educated by way of the Wine and Spirit Training Belief or the American Wine Society.

I’ve heard a number of folks dismiss competitors medals as pure advertising and marketing fluff. And naturally, the primary level is advertising and marketing. Competitions offer wineries validation with medals, which wineries then use to draw customers. However a great displaying in a contest can assist set up a little-known boutique vineyard’s fame.

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Mark and Maggie Malick, the husband-and-wife workforce behind Maggie Malick Wine Caves in Purcellville, Va., noticed that impact just a few years in the past when their 2017 Tannat gained a best-in-class award on the San Francisco Worldwide Wine Competitors, one of the prestigious within the nation. “Wine lovers will search you out particularly for that wine,” Mark Malick advised me. “So wine competitions actually do usher in customers to our vineyard, identical to level scores [on wine store shelf-talkers] have an effect on wine shopping for selections.”

Doug Frost, who’s a grasp sommelier and a grasp of wine, has an normal perspective as a companion in Echolands Vineyard in Washington state and organizer of the Jefferson Cup wine competitors. Medals can assist, however solely to some extent, he mentioned.

“What number of do you really want?” Frost requested, together with his vineyard hat on. “It’s a monetary resolution as as to whether or not you will get a advertising and marketing push, and a waste of cash past that.”

As organizer of the Jefferson Cup competitors, Frost hopes to attract consideration to the expansion of high quality wine all through the USA. “Wines from the better-known American appellations present a metric in opposition to which wines from the remainder of America could be measured,” he defined. Competitors outcomes display that wines from Missouri, Michigan or Texas can stand proud alongside better-known labels from California, for instance.

State competitions, such because the Governor’s Cup awards in Virginia, Maryland and different states, have the same aim of selling homegrown wines, although with out benchmarks from extra established states. The Atlantic Seaboard Wine Association holds an annual competitors to focus on wines from the East Coast. Do they inform us “one of the best wines” within the state or area? No, as a result of not each vineyard enters. However they do present who’s among the many finest and might alert us to new wineries we would need to discover.

The medal list on this 12 months’s Virginia Governor’s Cup competitors was launched this month, and the Cup winner shall be introduced Feb. 23 at a public event in Richmond. I’ve been a decide at this competitors a number of years, although I didn’t take part this 12 months.

The massive knock in opposition to competitions is their resemblance to hurry courting. Judges usually have a number of wines in a flight and should consider and rating them in a matter of seconds. This isn’t how we usually take pleasure in our wines. The competitors format is predicated on first impressions — albeit skilled ones — and favors bolder, greater wines over extra delicate ones. Even one of the best wines may get a gold medal or finest at school at one competitors however silver or bronze with a special set of judges on a special day.

So with the multitude of wines obtainable to us, medals, like scores, is usually a pointer to information us towards wines of high quality. The final word resolution, after all, lies with you, the patron.

“Use competitors outcomes as a information, however not an absolute,” mentioned Maggie Malick, who described herself as “very aggressive” and lists her medal-winning wines on the vineyard web site. “Belief your individual palate. Medals might imply bragging rights for the winemaker, however they gained’t imply something to you should you don’t just like the product. You’re the one shopping for it, so purchase what you want.”

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