This will be the year life is expected to return to normalcy. With restaurants returning to serve patrons with minimal occupancy currently in place, it is a sign of good things to come. When you are enjoying a great meal at a restaurant, what can you do to make it even better? Pick out the perfect wine of course. If you are dreading browsing through the pages of the restaurant wine list or are unsure of the regions or options listed, look no further. Every year the Sommelier Choice Awards brings a list of the best wines chosen by wine experts from the American food & restaurant industry. Here’s why you should be interested.
How does the competition work?
The goal of the Sommelier Choice Awards is to bring you wines that will become excellent additions to restaurant wine lists. In a competition that sees entrants from the top wine-producing countries and those giving these wine superpowers a run for their money, the judges have their work cut out for them. With the focus on bringing you, the consumers the best wines from all over the world to enjoy, wines are judged on the parameters of whether you would go for a second glass or not.
The consumers’ pleasure is the driving factor behind the Sommelier Choice Awards judging process. The focus is on finding everyday wines that people will come to enjoy and how the pleasure of enjoying the best wines, by the glass or by the bottle will help enhance their time spent at restaurants. For deciding which of the wines will do exactly that, five parameters are set for all wines to be judged.
The parameters that determine the best wines
To start, the food pairing ability of every wine is measured. Whether a wine can be paired with a variety of dishes not just one or two makes for a great place to begin the judging process. It is no hidden fact that with the right wine accompanying your food, the meal becomes delectable and the conversations begin to flow. The second parameter is the wine’s typicity. With multiple wines from the same varietal competing against each other, how much a wine represents characteristics of the grape it is produced from becomes an essential component.
After typicity comes the wine’s quality. The Sommelier Choice Awards judges a wine’s quality by its appearance, aroma, body, taste and aftertaste. A wine that delivers on all of these factors will appeal more to any consumer. Once the quality of the wine is scored, its value is judged. Once the judges are through with the blind tasting, they judge if the cost of the wine is per the quality it offers. If the wine offers excellent value, the score is closer to a 100.
The final parameter is the packaging. It is no news that the first interaction we have with a product is its appearance. Hence, packaging, a parameter so often overlooked, is part of the competition. Factors like a bottle’s appearance, its design and label information and overall look all play a part in determining its packaging score. How you perceive a wine when it’s placed with thousands of others on a wine shelf is an unmissable part of the judging process.
Why you should trust the outcome of the Sommelier Choice Awards
While the parameters are decided based on how a wine can be judged and rated best, the question remains as to why the results should be trusted so easily. Well, the ensemble of judges that grace the panel at the Sommelier Choice Awards are an integral part of America’s diverse restaurant culture and have been leaving their imprints on it through the years with their stellar work. With years of experience and qualifications to demonstrate, they know a good wine when they see one.
This year’s judging panel will include Mariya Kovacheva - Master Sommelier and Regional Wine Education Manager Americas at Pernod Ricard, Michael Meagher- Master Sommelier and Principal of Sommelier On-Demand Hospitality Services, Rachel Lowe- Director of Beverages for Levy Restaurants, Chicago. These are some of the names from a list of master sommeliers, sommeliers, wine experts who make buying decisions for their establishments everyday.
The list of judges at the Sommelier Choice Awards comprises of genuine experts who know wine inside and out and are well acquainted with the USA’s restaurant industry and how it functions.
How to select the best wines
Nailing down a favorite wine is always a tough business. While the results from the Sommelier Choice Awards will help narrow down the choices, it still can be confusing as to which wine to order at a restaurant. The grading system at the awards will come in at such times.
The winners at the annual Sommelier Choice Awards are categorized in such a way that picking a wine becomes easy for anyone. Wines that score 96 points and above are recognized as double gold winners, with the best of the lot getting crowned as ‘Wine of the Year’. Those that score between 90 and 96 are awarded gold medals. Silver medals are awarded to wines scoring between 80 and 89 and bronze to those between 70 and 79.
There are also special awards handed out to wines that impress the most. If you fancy wines from a particular country, you can select wines that are ‘Best in Show by Country’ category. If you are inclined towards a particular varietal, you can choose from the ‘Best in Show by Varietal’. For those who usually enjoy a glass or two at restaurants, your decision is also given a hand. There are By the Glass winners at the Sommelier Choice Awards too. You can check the winners to get a better look.