Half way in the International Wine Challenge


Half way in the International Wine Challenge


Week one of this second tranche of the 2017 International Wine Challenge is over. Except for the crew, that is: they have to stay the weekend doing the immense job of reflighting all the thousands of wines that have made the cut into week two.

When we get back to the Oval on Tuesday, we’ll be looking to award medals to the successful wines from week one. Removing the non-medal worthy wines helps make this process a bit easier. We’ll be back for a couple of days the week after for trophy judging.

For the last four days I’ve been one of the team of six co-chairs who have been re-tasting all the rejected wines. It’s a tough task, and it can leave you feeling a bit dispirited. For while the average standard of wine is better now than it was a few decades ago, there are still quite a lot of wines out there that you or I wouldn’t want to drink. I have also been running the faults panel, where I get to verify the wines rejected as faulty so we have good statistics on the prevalence of each fault type. There have been lots of faults.

The real benefit of a competition like the IWC is that the medals awarded act as reliable buying cues for ordinary people. It you only have £5-6 to spend on a bottle, if it has a medal from a well judged competition like this, it’s a really good sign that you will like the wine. We spend a lot of time deliberating over the award of a medal, and a lot of work goes in to making sure the results of the IWC are fair and robust.

Right now, though, I need a rest. Being a co-chair is physically exhausting. I’m looking forward to a proper weekend, like normal people with jobs have, where I can lie in and take things easy. I’m also looking forward to giving my palate a rest.


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