A Peek Into One Of The World’s Most Important Wine Competitions
Behind the scenes look into the London Wine Competition, one of the world’s most important wine competitions.
The London Wine Competition is one of the world’s most important wine competitions. This is because unlike other competitions that judge wines based on only its quality, London Wine Competition covers the three main aspects of a wine that actually matter - Quality, Value, and Packaging. These three parameters are what buyers look at every time they’re adding wine to their lists. The London Wine Competition also offers international exposure to all winning wines, which helps them step into the market they’re looking to get into.
Now, of course, the London Wine Competition is a closed-door event - however, we’re taking you behind the scenes and giving you an overview on what actually goes on before, during, and after the competition.
Flighting with experts and unpacking
Once all submissions have ended and entries have been done, wine bottles are flighted by our experts and unboxed at the warehouse according to the flights. This process takes about 10 days, to make sure no bottles are hampered with, and things are done the right way so there’s no mistake when the judging day approaches. So in a span of 10 days, about 3000 to 4500 bottles are flighted and unboxed, getting prepped for the judging day.
Once bottles are unboxed and grouped, then comes quality check. Quality check is one of the most important parts in the competition process. It’s important to make sure the bottles are fine, nothing is broken, nothing is uncorked - or else it will hamper with the judging process on the judging day. The quality check takes about two days in our warehouse, to make sure all bottles are in impeccable condition.
Scanning and data matching
To make sure all bottles are in the warehouse, and to prep them for the judging day - it’s important to get them scanned and get them matched with the data of the entrants. Here, our experts make sure that all bottles are matching with the data provided by the winery and producer, for accurate judging.
Once all the work is done in the backend, the London Wine Competition gets one step closer to the main judging day. However, before the judging day approaches, the main step that is taken is the prep of judging sheets. The judging sheets include all the parameters needed to judge each wine. In the London Wine Competition, these parameters include Quality, Value, and Packaging.
Who are our judges?
The London Wine Competition invites judges from across the globe. These judges include sommeliers, master sommeliers, Masters of Wine, and industry experts who are involved in the direct buying and selling wine trade. The judges are handpicked by us to make sure that all aspects of the wine are judged, including how they would do on a retail shelf, how they would do in a restaurant, and the worth of the wine according to its quality and packaging.
Once the judging day approaches, all of our judges gather at the venue, getting ready to taste and assess the wines. Judges are split into teams, with each team including a Master of Wine, a Sommelier, and a Trade buyer involved in the direct buying of wine around the world. Wines entered in the London Wine Competition are judged on the basis of Quality, Value, and Packaging. Judges look at every aspect of the wine that would matter to the consumer. Quality, of course, ranks first - however, the retail price of the wine, meaning if the wine is actually worth the price tag it has on is also very important. And of course, there’s packaging.
“For us, it’s always quality, quality is absolutely the first thing we look for and interestingly I think it mirrors how we’re judging here at the London Wine Competition. So quality is the first thing we look for, but then we’re also looking for value at all price points and then packaging and how that stands out on the shelf, making sure we have a breadth of range and styles to suit the different consumers and their different missions” said Anne Jones, Category Manager for wine, beer, and spirits at Waitrose - and also a judge at the 2019 London Wine Competition.
So in terms of judging, the London Wine Competition covers every aspect that a wine needs to excel in, in order to get on a restaurant or bar’s wine list, and on retail shelves.
Post the first day of assessing wines, the London Wine Competition also has a rejudging day. This is well the judges gather, and re-taste wines which have been ranked above 90 points to make sure there are no ties, and the scores they’ve allotted are accurate. For example, two wines could have been tied for Wine of the Year on the first day of judging, but the rejudging day would solve that matter as the judges would sit down and reevaluate the wines and come to a final decision. This is also where all our special category awards are finalized.
The London Wine Competition offers Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals - along with 7 special category awards, namely:
Once the scores are allotted by judges, then the process of getting them validated starts. Our experts make sure that the wines are assessed on all fair basis, and things are looking good on the scoring end. This process takes about one week before the winners are announced.
Lastly, the London Wine Competition announces their winners after the entire process is through and everything is validated. The list of winners is sent to trade professionals and wine buyers across the globe. Winners are also backed by a year of digital promotion by London Wine Competition. The digital promotion includes a press article announcing the winners separately, interviews with the winery/wine producer, and social media exposure for one year.