Day one of the 2010 IWC

Off to the Barbican today, in the City of London, for day 1 of the 2010 instalment of the International Wine Challenge – the world’s largest blind tasting wine competition. As one of the 20 panel chairs, I am contracted to both weeks of the competition, so I’ll be tasting here every day for the next fortnight.

It’s quite nice: there’s a good collegiate atmosphere, and for a freelancer it is quite nice to be doing something that feels like a proper job (turning up at 9 am and leaving at around 5) even if it’s just for a while. Most people in the wine trade are really nice, and so it’s great to be able to hang out together, and make some new connections.

Because there has been a record number of entries this year, we’ve a lot of tasting to do. Today, my table got through 153 wines – normally we’d be doing around 100/day in the first week. So it was a tiring but enjoyable day. I really don’t feel like wine tonight, though.

8 comments to Day one of the 2010 IWC

  • 153! Thanks for the warning. I’m along on Thursday and was expecting anything from 80 to 120. I’m sure that Coopers at the end of the day is especially welcoming…..

  • Alex Lake

    Just remember when blogging afterwards to repeat “I must NOT bite the hand that feeds me”…

  • Thanks for the update Jamie. With the start of the IWC judging this week there has been quite a bit of chatter about it on blogs and twitter. Vocal exponents of the competition tell us of the strengths of the competition, usually in comparison with the Decanter Awards. But 153 wines in one day? Even if you worked a solid eight hours 9am-5pm (with no lunch break or similar) that’s about one wine every three minutes. Obviously the reality is each wine receives a lot less time than that. Is that an appropriate way to judge wine?

  • Chris, this is the strength of the IWC – there are two rounds. Each wine gets tasted at least twice.

    This week, our goal is to sort out the potential medal winning wines from the rest. It’s a simple binary choice: we’re not writing detailed tasting notes, or assigning final grades on each glass.

    The wines that each panel deems not worthy of a medal are sent to the co-chairs, who then check that decent wines haven’t been overlooked.

    The rest will go through to the second round of judging next week, when fewer wines will be tasted in a day.

    My panel has gone through a larger number of wines than most panels with – in part, this reflects the fact that some flights have been easier to judge, and in part that we’ve been working pretty hard.

  • John Smith

    Please correct one basic error in your original post.
    The Decanter Awards are bigger than the IWC, having overtaken them last year.

    This is why the IWC was forced to change its description, and start calling itself the “most influential” wine competition, rather than the biggest.

  • Are they bigger this year? The IWC entries have grown this year from last.

    Also, Decanter just have five days of tasting; IWC have 9, plus an extra day for the trophy tasting. I don’t know how many judges Decanter use, but their venue is quite a bit smaller.

    Anyway, I don’t want this to turn into a squabble between the IWC and DWWA – the trade is big enough for two competitions – it’s just a shame that they are scheduled concurrently because it would be nice for experienced tasters to be able to judge both. And it’s also a shame (if it is true) that Decanter contract their panel chairs so they aren’t allowed to taste in any other UK competitions (so I have heard).

  • And let’s not forget the UK’s third competition running concurrently, the IWSC.

  • 153 wines… whewh. Must’ve been one hell of a day and morning, haha.

    Are you going to give us a top X of your favourites??

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