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Why London Wine Competition Is Now So Important To Both Those Who Make And Sell Wine

Judges of the London Wine Competition shares how the competition has become a firm favourite amongst producers, importers and the retailers and sommeliers tasked with selling them.

With so many well established global wine competitions it was a brave step to introduce a new one when the London Wine Competition was first launched in 2018. 

But this was not an event trying to replicate what had come before. No, the London Wine Competition was looking to step into new territory with an award that judged wines in the same way that consumers do: how they taste; what they cost; and what the packaging, design and bottle look like. 

That was the game-changer that, in the three years following, has seen the competition become a firm favourite amongst producers, importers and the retailers and sommeliers tasked with selling them. 

This is a competition that truly reflects all the efforts that go into making any wine: From the viticulture and work done in the vineyards in order to make quality grapes; to the careful control of costs that allow producers to market and sell the finished wine at a price a supplier or retailer is willing to pay for it; through to look and feel of the bottle that makes a consumer want to pick it up off a shelf. 

If you win a medal or trophy in the London Wine Competition it’s a mark of recognition and reward for all the steps needed to create a quality wine, at the right market price that stands out from its competition on the shelf. 

Competition for professional buyers

It also captures the decisions that professional wine buyers have to make when selecting which new wines to take on for their list.

Angelo Altobelli, head sommelier at Belmond Cadogan Hotel

Image: Angelo Altobelli, head sommelier at Belmond Cadogan Hotel

Angelo Altobelli, head sommelier at Belmond Cadogan Hotel, says what particularly attracts him to take part in the London Wine Competition judging is that it’s based on the same skills he uses every day in his job. As he explains: “Most important is the value of what is inside the bottle and how much I’d pay for it. I work very closely with all my suppliers to find this category of great value wines, especially from lesser-known regions.”

Recognising the importance of price, and how a particular bottle of wine fits into your overall pricing strategy is very much part of London Wine Competition judge Eric Simonics’s role as head of wine at Caprice Holdings. “From the business point of view, the sommelier needs to be also familiar with stock management, financial performance, buying practices, pricing strategy and so on,” he explains. ” There are many factors that determine what goes on the list and what doesn't. Demand, price, availability, uniqueness, but most importantly what guests ask for. There is no point to buy a certain wine if none of your guests is keen to try regardless of how good the quality or price it is.”



Antonio Palmarini, Wine Buyer at Franklin's Wine Shop and Bar and London Wine Competition judge, says going beyond just the quality of the wine and what it tastes like is what makes the awards stand out for him: “The packaging is very important, so I do consider even that when I choose the wine in order to make it suitable for the wine list of the business I work for.” 

The Ivy

Image: The Ivy

Listening and adapting 

Crucially, as the competition has developed, it has also listened to the wineries and suppliers entering and taken steps to really help them both with the judging process and then how the wines that win medals and awards are promotedto the wine-drinking public at the end of the process. 

Firstly, the judging has been tightened up to ensure only professional wine buyers who are actively working in a commercial role, buying and selling wine are involved. Individuals with the current market knowledge and expertise to be able to pick out the wines they know have the quality, market value and packaging design to be a hit with consumers. 

London Drinks Guide 

Secondly, the Beverage Trade Network, the drinks media business behind the separate London Wine, Spirits and Beer Competitions, has launched the London Drinks Guide, a new consumer website aimed at providing drinks enthusiasts with the latest news about what is going on in the bars, pubs and restaurants across what is arguably still the most dynamic and exciting city for drinks in the world. 

The London Drinks Guide

Image: London Drinks Guide

Billed as ‘Where Drinks Culture Lives’ The London Drinks Guide features interviews with the people behind the top drinks outlets and asks them what they are buying and selling and what trends they are seeing. It looks at new openings, which wines are being listed where, and which styles of wine are very much on sommeliers and restaurateurs’ radars.

It is also the ideal platform to showcase many of the award-winning wines from the London Wine Competition, as well as the top beers and spirits from their separate awards. 



Launched in 2020 The London Drinks Guide is also building up a strong community of wine lovers and drinks enthusiast on social media through @london_guide with its regular updates on who is doing what where in the city. 

It is also keen to talk to more of the producers and suppliers taking part in the London Wine Competition and will be sharing their stories and insights in the months to come.

“We want to be seen as a true partner that can help producers and their importers promote their wines directly to the consumers they want to be buying their wines,” says Sid Patel, founder of the London Drinks Competitions and chief executive of the Beverage Trade Network. “The London Drinks Guide is the first dedicated online platform 100% focused on helping those who love their wines, beers and spirits find out more about them and where to go and buy them.”

As it enters just its fourth year, the London Wine Competition has already become a vital sales partner for wine producers all over the world. They have the confidence their wines are going to be judged with the same criteria they make them for the key markets international wine markets they work in, with the added reassurance that any award-winning wine will then have the chance of being promoted on the London Drinks Guide to wine lovers in the biggest showcase for wine on the planet.

About the Author

Richard Siddle

Richard Siddle is an award-winning business editor with over 25 years experience working across a number of fields including computing, FMCG, grocery and convenience retailing, travel and for the last 10 years wine and spirits. He spent much of that time as editor of Harpers Wine & Spirit where he was widely recognised for having turned one of the UK’s oldest publications into an agenda setting, must read for the drinks industry.

Call for domestic and international submission is now open for London Wine Competition. Enter your wines before 31 August 2024 to get super early bird pricing. Register now and ship later to save.

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