So yesterday was the first day of the International Wine Challenge. For the next two weeks I will be doing what most closely resembles a normal job: getting up early and commuting into town (well, Vauxhall, which is quite convenient for me, 30 minutes door to door), working 9-5 and then commuting home.
It’s an enjoyable two weeks. As one of the 20 or so panel chairs I’m there for the duration. Our job is to get the best out of the talented tasting teams (usually five, including one associate), to make sure that each wine gets judged fairly and accurately. We have different people tasting each day with us: this is great because it’s a highly social activity and you get to know lots of great people. Also, because of the feedback system, bad panel chairs and bad tasters get weeded out fairly quickly. It’s great to feel part of something bigger, when for most of your working life you are on your own as a freelancer.
This week we’ll be tasting all the wines and deciding whether they are worthy of a medal or not. Next week, we taste all the medal-worthy wines and decide which medal they should get. There’s a team of co-chairs who moderate the activity of the panels, providing consistency, and double checking the results. It’s a fairly robust system, and certainly much more thorough than most one-pass competitions.
That’s all for now. I’ve got to head off to the station, just like a regular commuter. I think two weeks of commuting will be just about enough for me.