Wine Judging

7/18/07 Michael McCollum/The Record Colleen Stockton, of Carson City, Nevada, sniffs, tastes, swishes, and expels wine being judged for the California State Fair Wine Competition at Wine and Roses in Lodi Wednesday afternoon.

Imagine having 35 glasses of wine placed in front of you, each labeled with a number waiting for you to decide whether it is worthy of an award. The only information you will be given is the grape variety and the vintage. Repeat this scenario three or four times a day for three days strait. Yes, you must spit out all the wine, even the good ones! Major wine competitions require panels of four or five judges to evaluate over a hundred wines each day giving the best wines medals of gold, silver or bronze.  


Each year over 2000 wines are submitted to the California State Fair of which only a few hundred will receive medals. Judges are wine professionals who must pass a rigorous all day test involving the identification of wine quality, faults and varietals. The competition is exhausting but one we enjoy.  

Wineries submit wine to these competitions hoping to gain the marketing advantage a medal brings. There is an old saying in the wine industry that “gold means sold!”A medal winning wine must be free of faults, balanced and typical for the varietal.

A gold medal tells the consumer that the judges felt the wine was exceptional. Silver is given to very good wine lacking the completeness of gold quality. Bronze indicates an enjoyable wine, free of faults but without complexity.  

A medal is no guarantee that you will like a wine but you will know that someone did.