There is nothing more exciting than chancing upon the extraordinary, the new find delighting and surprising you. The usuals draw us toward them. Whether it is a diner that serves the best pancakes, a coffee place that you swear by or even a YouTube workout video, there is a memory palace that directs your decision making towards choices you trust.
What happens though when you stumble upon something new and it makes you wonder about what you had been missing. This is the wonder you will come to experience as you discover the wines that the Sommelier Choice Awards brings to you. Every year, these awards bring a new list of wines for restaurants and on-premise establishments to add to their menus. This year’s competition is scheduled to take place on May 16 in San Francisco and is set to announce the best wines from all over the world as judged by some of the top wine sommeliers in the country.
Handpicked by people who are masters of the wine world, these wines all add significant value to the establishment that will list them. From the fancy ones saved for special occasions to the everyday ones that won’t burn a hole in your pocket, the Sommelier Choice Awards recognizes wines that people will love to sip on. Wines that will be a surprise but hold the merits to become your usuals to order at restaurants and wine establishments, or even the liquor stores that you buy from.
Who are the experts that judge the wines?
While it is easy to state that those gracing the judges’ panel are experts for the benefit of the crowd, the Sommelier Choice Awards takes pride in getting the who’s who from the wine world to judge the wines coming to the American shores from all over the world. Each member of the panel is a prominent name in the wine industry with decades of distinguished work behind them. A first-rate ensemble of people you will trust for their judgement and their knowledge for all things wine.
This edition of the Sommelier Choice Awards will see names like Brett Zimmerman- Master Sommelier and Owner of Boulder Wine Merchant, Marc R. Kauffman- Noted Celebrity Sommelier and Head Sommelier for The Sommelier Company. Laura Williamson- Master Sommelier and Owner of Unlock Your Palate, Hunter Hammett- Award-winning Sommelier and Wine Educator and Natalie Matthews, Sommelier at The Village Pub and others who have made significant contributions to the American wine industry will be part of the panel.
The process of rating wines
To get such a noteworthy line-up of judges on board, the judging process has to provide a challenge and be of interest. The factors that help judge wines at the competition effectively answer two overarching questions for the judges, would they stock the wine and will the consumers go for a second glass? The parameters that help answer these two questions are food pairing ability, typicity, quality, value and packaging.
Food pairing ability rates wines based on how well they pair with a variety of meals. Wines that pair with several dishes offer great value to restaurants and restaurant chains. The typicity of wine helps in determining how perfectly it demonstrates the characteristics of the grape it is produced from and the region it is made in. The quality aspect assesses how agreeable the wine is for the target customers. Value in this context means how well the wine is priced based on the quality it offers. Packaging measures how the wine will be perceived by consumers. The label, the bottle’s appearance and overall look are all factors that can draw people towards it when it sits among multiple other bottles on the shelves of restaurants or retail stores.
Initially, the wines are tasted blind by the judges and are rated on their food pairing ability, typicity and quality. Based on all these factors, they determine the value and then rate the value out of 100 based on the suggested retail price of the wine. Packaging, an aspect hard to miss for a consumer completes the parameters and lends authenticity to why the judging process at the Sommelier Choice Awards is unlike any other.
The awards and those who win them
With a precise and thorough judging process in place, the awards cover each of the factors you can relate to with wine. The top wines are awarded as Wine of the Year, Winery of the Year and more. Awards are also presented to the best red wine, best white wine, best sparkling wine and best rosé. For those who love to taste wines from other countries, the Sommelier Choice Awards has a category just for you. The Best In Show by Country category gives out awards to the best wines from the top countries where wines were submitted from.
A similar award is also presented to the Best Wines by Varietals. Some of the varietals awarded are pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot amongst others. The awards also recognize how important ‘By the Glass’ is in the wine & food industry. Five ‘By the Glass’ awards are given for wine of the year, red wine of the year, white wine of the year, and one for sparkling and rosé of the year.
At the 2020 competition, wines from the world over entered the Sommelier Choice Awards and Kalaris from Axios Inc. was recognized as Wine of the Year scoring a whopping 98 points. Argentinean producer Cuvulier Los Andes’ Cuvulier Los Andes/ Malbec was awarded the Wine of the Year (By the Glass) award.
The scoring system lends itself to four medals. Wines scoring 96 points or above are conferred with double-gold medals. The ones scoring between 90 to 95 are given gold medals with 80 to 89 points awarded silver and the ones scoring 70 to 79 are bronze medalists. The wines come from top American producers like Cannonball, Ehlers Estate, Chalone Vineyards and more along with recognized and up and coming brands from Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and many more. Feast your eyes (and tastebuds!) on the winners from 2020 to drink the best wines from last year until this year’s winners are announced.