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The Wine Judging Circuit

The Wine Judging Circuit

Rebecca Chapa | Chef's Blade

On a personal level, I gauge which competitions seem most enjoyable, which is usually a reflection of the caliber of judges and the sense of camaraderie amongst them. That said there are judgings that are, of course, well respected that I have not been invited to. Not only do judgings offer a source of information for consumer buying and give wineries medals to tout and display but they are a great resource for wine buyers-many use them to find out what wines they like without prejudice. One of the ways I became more versed in wines of the world was wine competitions. Sometimes you might get a chance to try wines you would never choose to open like fruit wines, hybrids, or varieties you might not normally gravitate towards. Judging with more experienced tasters is the best way to hone your palate, especially if you have the benefit of trying a type of wine that is their specialty. It is extremely eye-opening to evaluate wines fairly even if they are of a style of which you are not normally fond.

Most competitions treat the wines as a group amongst themselves, for example a gold medal Syrah doesn’t need to be the best Syrah you have ever had, it’s more like a county fair judging of livestock, how does the wine match up compared to the other wines entered. I have never tasted the wines he makes, but Roger Hodgson claims that he conducted the study mentioned on the previous page because wines he entered into competitions sometimes won gold medals and other times won nothing. All I can say is a girl might win a crown at her hometown beauty pageant, but that doesn’t make her Miss America. It all depends on the competition.

Here are some wine judgings I have been to:

Dallas Morning News Competition (February)

When time allows I like to take in some of the local culture. During days I was in Dallas, the King Tut exhibition was in, which I visited with my friend Joel Butler, MW. Over the weekend we were comfortably housed at the lovely Hotel Adolphus.

Dining experiences included York Street, an amazing but tiny restaurant in an unusual location (6047 Lewis) with my friends Dr. Bob Small (he makes Dr. Bob’s Handcrafted Ice Cream-try the Strawberries with Sour Cream & Brown Sugar!) and Drew Hendricks of Pappas Bros. Steakhouse. The next night was a walkaround tasting of last year’s winning wines with some of the area’s top restaurants. Particularly notable was the White Seaweed Salad from Tei-An, so I joined Drew and our friends Meghan and Brandan there. We had the Omakase (tasting) menu including the phenomenal pairing of buckwheat tea with a truffled risotto. I also thought the soba course with egg was incredible. Tei-An 1722 Routh Street, Suite 110 Dallas, TX 75201 214 220-2828