The first week of the International Wine Challenge

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So, the first week of the International Wine Challenge is over. I’ve had a nice weekend to recover (the poor team, however, have been busy all weekend sorting out the flights for week 2), and we judges have a day off tomorrow. Then it’s back to work on Tuesday: the exciting bit – deciding which medal the wines that made the cut will get.

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Each year I come away from the Wine Challenge with one thought: what fun it is. It is hard work, for sure, and it’s tiring. But the aspect that makes it such fun is the teamwork. For a while, I am part of something bigger, working with skilled professionals with perspectives different to mine. I learn a lot. I meet new people. I catch up with friends.

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The wine trade is full of nice people. This sounds a facile statement, but I’m amazed by how much nicer my wine trade colleagues are than they really need be. I think this is partly because it’s really hard to make serious money in the wine trade. People who need to make lots of money choose other industries. This creates a filtering factor. I wouldn’t be so silly to say that all rich people are nasty, but I would suggest that ruthlessly ambitious, self-serving people aren’t all that nice to hang out with. Choosing to work in the wine trade is a sort of vocation, and this helps keep it a really supportive, fun environment. Long may it stay that way.

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And we’ve been at the Oval, which is always fun. [For the benefit of those unfamiliar with the game of cricket, this is one of London’s two top cricket grounds. The other, Lord’s, is where the Wine Challenge used to take place.] No games these two weeks, but we did see Surrey players netting, including Kevin Pietersen.

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This year, for the first time, I’ve been keeping my notes from the judging, with a view to matching up the numbers to the names of the wines when the results are released. There are already quite a few wines I’d be keen to discover the identity of.

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