Monday, February 5, 2018

So You Wanna Be a Wine Judge.Com!

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.

There are hundreds of wine competitions held every year. Many, if not most, are for profit. There's no money in being a judge--most competitions pay travel expenses and a few hundred dollars for a couple of days work. Others, notably the "prestigious" SF Chronicle Wine Competition, pay nothing. Zero. Nada. So I thought it was time for an online course that would qualify anyone to judge, anyone to make absolutely nothing judging wines for wine competition promoters and wine country newspapers. Just hop on over to Tim Atkin's blog and you can become a wine judge TODAY! You're welcome!



David Pierson said...

My web gal, who doesn't know a lot about wine, asked me if we should post a gold medal pic, and I said, those medal awards are fucking useless and don't mean a thing, and she asked, why? I think I'll get her to read this column.. cheers Ron...

Coke Roth said...

Great idea for a column....please see the one I authored in 2011....I enjoy your comments by the way...Coke Roth

Dean Tudor said...

..and the Platinum medal goes for sleeping with somebody...

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I think you're right that medals don't sell wine. Which is why competitions are awarding even more misleading points now. My regards to your web gal--is she a duck?

Great to hear from you, and thanks for chiming in. I hadn't seen your article before--it sounds about right.

Oh, I wish... My wife gave me a low Bronze, unlike the other judges who thought I was faulty. Some sort of sulfur issue.

Paul Moe said...

Comments don't seem to be enabled on Tim's web site.I know of a competition that has hundreds of entries from hundreds of wineries. The wineries will literally send cases of their wines to this competition. The wines are put to good use throughout the year, as they are featured at a wide variety of charitable events. This competition awards, on average, 85-88% of the wines entered one of the medals mentioned above. They also award a Double Gold Best of Show.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

It's funny how different competitions are in the US compared to other countries. Your guess of 85% medals awarded is a bit high, in my experience, but the only medals that matter are golds, and that's more a factor of how many judges are on a panel--something most competitions don't publicize.

I've been a wine judge for a long time. After this piece, maybe not for much longer.

Paul Moe said...

I'm referring to a specific competition, and the percentages I offered is accurate. I don't want to name it here, and I know you don't like links so I won't post that, either. I'd be happy to send you info if you're interested...or even care!

Ron Washam, HMW said...

I'm sorry, I wasn't doubting your veracity, not at all. I wrote "guess" when I should have said "statement." And, believe me, no one who has any knowledge of US wine competitions would doubt that those numbers are true. They might be above average, but not that much. But, again, no one cares about bronze medals, and few care much about silvers. Though many wineries will say they won 15 medals in a competition and not reveal how many were bronze or silver knowing people just won't take the time to look it up.

Do I care? Well, not about which competition you're talking about. It could be any of dozens. But I do think that there are many poorly run and poorly judged competitions, and that, sadly, some of the most "presitigious" are among them. As they always say, "Caveat Emptor," which is Latin for "You really believe that crap?"

Paul Moe said...

149 Double Golds. And I'm done with beating this horse.

Unknown said...

Ron, your humor always makes my lunch better. Or maybe it's the Riesling.
My wife won't let me do a Wine Critics Open, where we see if they can taste the way out of a paper bag, are challenged with ten trio tastings, can give the same score to ten wines in five flights of ten wines, and can detect mild cork taint.
Wine judges are almost as bad. Usually over 50, fading nose; male, proven to be inferior smellers to females; and incredibly often smokers. Or as I frequently say, Old Fat White Guys Who Smoke Cigars. ( Coke, I'm not USUALLY thinking of you that way��) thinking of guys who do wine and cigar publications!

I don't often send wines to critics and don't enter competitions. I will say in my experience at large wineries, shelf talkers with gold sell wine, as do numbers over 90 ( the new 80).

Wine is emotive, not logical. As a guy a bit up the Asperger's Scale, I wrestle with that challenge.

So Ron, wadda ya say, want to host a really challenging competition? Really be provocative?
Paul Vandenberg

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Wow!! That's a lot of double golds. But consumers don't know that, of course, they just see a bottle at the local shop that has a double gold sticker on it. There's a lot of baloney surrounding a lot of these shadier competitions. And is a Cabernet Over $50 Double Gold the equivalent of a Chardonnay Under $20 Double Gold? Nope. But the public thinks so.

Thanks for being a common tater.

Another Paul,
Wine judges vary wildly from competition to competition. I've been at amazing competitions with very talented judges, and I've been at some with people they apparently recruited from the Home Depot parking lot. I have even scarier stories than Coke's.

I'm not hosting a wine competition. Though I will certainly accept any entries.

Unknown said...

Not a wine competition, a wine critic competition. I suggest emoji awards.�������� Are there really more than four levels?
Paul Vandenberg

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Even worse. A roomful of wine critics. Have you read my "Wine Critics in Hell?" This would be "HoseMaster in Hell." Which many people are predicting.

Emoji are worse than medals and points. Well, stupider anyway.

Bodega Almaroja said...

This is the best and the truest explanation of the bloody circus that is wine tasting competitions. Thank you Ron. I´ve been saying the same for years - in a far less erudite and amusing manner, obviously - and it is why I never enter my wines into competitions. The only thing missing from the article is how the organizers make far more money from the stupid bloody bronze bottle stickers they then sell you than from the entry fees.

Ron Washam, HMW said...

Thank you. I could have written another 1500 words, at least, about wine competitions, but that would have been too long for Tim's site. The organizers can rake in a lot of money if it's a large competition, you're absolutely right. Like wine blogs, 95% of them are meaningless, but wineries love medals, marketing people love medals, all God's chil'lun love medals. Aren't there some athletics going on as we speak that give medals? Imagine if 45 of the figure skaters received bronze medals. That's wine competitions.