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This blog site includes news on latest wines, food, events, offers and happenings at artisan & vine. It also includes stories of my wine adventures in and outside the bar, wine facts and wine profiles.

Monday, 19 April 2010

International Wine Challenge

This year I had the pleasure of being invited to judge at the International Wine Challenge (IWC). During the last week I joined some 300+ wine experts in blind tasting over 10,000 wines to determine which wines should take home coveted medals or commendations from the Challenge. The IWC is ‘the biggest blind tasting in the world’. The result of the tasting manifest in these little stickers (pictured) that you’ll see appear on bottles of wine that have won a Gold, Silver, Bronze or Commended award from the judges at the competition. For consumers, they represent a kind of quality guarantee.

Here’s how the process works:
1. In early April, 45,000+ bottles arrive at the Barbican Centre to be categorised by grape variety, region, etc.
2. For Week 1 of tasting, judges determine which wines should be tasted again in Week 2 for medal classification, which wines should be Commended, or which wines are not medal or commendation ready.
3. There is an added safety net for lower scoring wines, which are sent for re-tasting by the co-chairmen judges.
4. During Week 2 all of the higher scoring wines are re-tasted, again completely blind, and invariably by different judges, to determine which wines will take which medals.

Having moved from the corporate world to what is normally the very casual and artistic world of wine, I found the structure and organisation of the IWC to run with surprising finesse. Having seen what goes on behind the scenes, particularly the palate and integrity of my fellow judges, I reckon that these little IWC stickers are a pretty reliable indicator of a good wine. That said, one could most likely expect that, like Michelin stars for restaurants, these coveted little IWC medals might add a couple of pennies to the price of winning wines.

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