jamie goode's wine blog: TOP 10: things I like about judging at the IWC

Friday, April 17, 2009

TOP 10: things I like about judging at the IWC

Just finished the first week of the International Wine Challenge. It's been tough but fun, and now I'm properly tired. [Fiona pointed out that this is probably because I'm not used to proper work.] So here's my top ten things I like about judging at the IWC.

1. The chance to meet new people
One of the best things about the Challenge is meeting new people and making new connections. If you spend a day judging with someone, you get to know them a bit.

2. Catching up with colleagues
There's a real collegiate spirit in the wine trade. A sense that we're all on the same team. I think it comes from working with something we're interested in, and perhaps being driven more by this than by the lure of financial reward. Anyway, the Challenge gives us all a great chance to catch up and chat, and pull together in a common cause.

3. The lunches
We get fed well, at Searcy's restaurant in the Barbican complex. The food is really, really good two courses, plus sparkling water of course.

4. The wines
Tasting lots of wines blind in matched flights is an interesting experience. You learn quite a bit, both from the similarities and the differences. Labels influence us in all sorts of ways, so it's good to look at wines identity unknown from time to time.

5. Palate sharpening
I think that after a few days of intensive tasting your palate does get better. It's a it like an athelete in training. It's not that you detect things better; rather that you are able to analyse more rapidly and more accurately what your palate is picking up.

6. The venue
The Barbican is a slightly crazy, but ultimately rather cool location. It could easily be the most depressing council estate ever if it was in the wrong place, but this 60s monstrosity is of its time, and where it's located, it's a wonderful place.

7. The organization
It's really good which makes it easy to taste. And the fact that it all goes on unseen makes the tasting floor quite a relaxed place, even though I'm sure it's a logistical nightmare behing the scenes.

8. The results
It's nice to be contributing towards a tool (the IWC medals) that actually helps consumers navigate the wall of wine in their local supermarket.

9 The workload
We taste a lot of wines each day, but not too many. About 100 any more would be tough going.
10. Cooper's at the end of the day
When all the judging is finiished, we sit down for a Cooper's Sparkling Ale or a Greene King IPA (new this year). It's sociable, and a great way to finish a day's tasting.


At 10:32 PM, Anonymous kirk bray - sandihurst wine said...

very interested in the approach...do you think there a difference tasting in the morning versus the afternoon? before of after a big lunch? would a wine fare the same if it was 1st or 100th in order of tasting? are all wines at room temperature (does this differ depending on seasons?) are all competitions standard in approach? - too many questions...

At 9:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yet more plugging of the IWC - you're desperate to become a chairman, aren't you?

At 9:14 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

Kirk - I think tasters are definitely feeling more tired by the end of the day - but it's not a punishing schedule and there are some pretty experienced tasters participating. The fact that the flights are short and mixed up in style helps keep you fresh, and the proportion of wines medalled or eliminated is probably fairly consistent throughout the day. Whites are chilled slightly, reds just a little cooler than room temperature, which is just right.

Anon, I think you are being a little cynical, and perhaps a bit mean spirited. Why would someone want to make a comment like this? I enjoy taking part in the IWC and I'm enthusiastic about it. I guess enthusiasm is uncool on the part of a journalist? Better to be cynical and mean?

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not at all, but your constant praising of the IWC reads like an advert. I think you're a little too closely involved with it to comment on it dispassionately.


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