If a wine has received numerous medals in various wine competitions, it can be an indicator that it is generally well-received by judges and experts. However, it doesn't necessarily mean that the wine is good for everyone or that it will align with your personal taste preferences. What it can do is raise the expectations of the buyer - which can also end up being a negative factor f the wine doesnt "perform" It is possible to be caught out - here are some important points to consider:
- Subjectivity: Wine tasting is highly subjective, and what one group of judges or experts considers excellent might not be to everyone's liking. The medals a wine receives are based on the opinions and preferences of those specific judges at those specific competitions. There is considerable controversy in this as some competitions are better than others, some judges and events have commercialised the stickering . One "prestigious competition" was famously duped by the Belgian Sommelier Eric Boschman into awarding his "supermarket selection wine - worth $2,70 - a Gold medal ! Eric did give the wine a famcy name and label to give it some element of stature. the Judges declared " suave, nervous and rich palate with clean young scents that promise a nice complexity, very interesting " Not all competitions and not all medlas are equal.
- Styles on Masters of Wines Grading and Varietal: Different wines have different styles and varietals, and what is considered excellent for one type of wine may not apply to another. A wine that wins awards for being a great Chardonnay, for example, might not be your top choice if you prefer Cabernet Sauvignon. By the same gesture not all Masters of Wine have the same rating scale due to the scales they use. You may like wines which have been rated highly by Tim Atkin or you may like wines rated highly by Robert Parker - try a few out and see which preference and therefore which Master to follow. At Solovino we follow Tim Atkin, Konstantin Baum,James Suckling.
- Consistency: It's important to consider whether the wine consistently wins awards or if the medals are from one or two competitions. Consistency in quality over multiple vintages and competitions can be a better indicator of overall quality. Search your preferred wine styles and see the history of the wine and this will give you an indication of what the terroir and the winemaker are doing consistently or what has changed recently to make it a better or worse wine. Well respected wine competitions include winemag and platters in south Africa
- Marketability: Some wineries may enter their wines into competitions primarily for marketing purposes. Winning medals can boost a wine's reputation and sales, so producers may target competitions that align with their marketing strategy. As indicated in beginning of the blog, this can add 15% more revenue to the brand. At Solovino we add a "JENGA BIZNA" "SILVER MEDAL" to each of the WILD HOUSE RANGE. Nothing to do with the quality, but the consumer will read the label and be made to understand a % of what he or she is paying for is going back to supporting marginalised communities in Kenya. A medal well worth showing.
- Personal Taste: Ultimately, the best wine is the one that you enjoy the most. Don't rely solely on medals and awards to determine whether a wine is good for you. Consider your own palate and preferences when choosing a wine. Read the back of the label and try and understand what the alcohol level is telling you about the weight of the wine, the sugar levels, the picking and fermentation style and interpretation of style of fruit used. Read my blog on interpreting wine labels and styles to get some insights on how to buy wine at the supermarket