Why it’s worth entering wine writing competitions

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Why it’s worth entering wine writing competitions

Back in 2007, while I still had a full time job!

I enter wine competitions. Not all of them, but many, if I feel I’ve done something that year that’s of merit.

It’s worth the effort of entering. It takes a while to decide what to put forward, then to fill in the entry form (they can be quite demanding, but most are relatively simple), but it’s definitely worth the effort. I’m surprised that some don’t bother at all: for a little time invested – say an hour – you have the chance of getting some very good publicity, and perhaps also a prize!

The key thing is not to invest any emotional energy in your entry. Seeing others win and feeling aggrieved or jealous is utterly wasted emotional energy. Lower your expectations: if you think you deserve to be shortlisted, or to win, then you may well be disappointed. Expect your entry to disappear into a big pile and never be heard of again. Assume the judges just aren’t going to ‘get’ your work. But enter anyway, and you never know – you might be pleasantly surprised.

Also, don’t feel that the competition you enter is in any way a good appraisal of the quality of your work. Whether you win or not, it means nothing, apart from good free publicity. You need confidence in the writing game. Consider yourself to be a very fine writer, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Especially not the results of a wine writing competition.

Every industry has its award evenings, where it recognizes the ‘stars’, gives prizes and trophies, and dishes out badges of merit. The wine world is no different. It’s part of the landscape, and it’s very nice if you get recognized in this way, but it isn’t important.

The other thing you have to get your head around is what to do if you are shortlisted. I reckon that it’s best to say: that is all I wanted, to be shortlisted, and anything else is an absolute bonus, but it probably isn’t going to happen. I have been to many awards evenings where, technically – being shortlisted, I have a chance to win. Almost always I don’t but that’s OK. I’m supremely flattered to be recognized at all.

I got lucky early on in my wine writing career. In 2004 I got listed for the Lanson (now Roederer) and Glenfiddich (now defunct) awards, and then in 2006 and 2007 won the Glenfiddich award in successive years. I’ve not been so lucky with the Roederer, though: I’ve been shortlisted 13 times and only won once. But once is enough!

Other competitions? I was shortlisted for the Fortnum & Mason awards twice (these are worth entering, because they are quite prestigious and the ceremony is chock full of proper celebrities, not just wine celebrities), I was a nominee for the James Beard (a big deal in the USA), and I have been on the shortlist for the Andre Simon awards (for food and drink books) three times. I’ve won the Wine Blog Awards twice, and been shortlisted for the IWSC Communicator of the Year a couple of times, as well as winning their blog award. I got shortlisted for Born Digital Awards once, too.

Overall, as long as you have done some work that you think is good, and you aren’t going to get too emotionally invested in the process, it is worth entering competitions.

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