Ever wondered what that little IWC medal sticker on the bottle of wine on your supermarket shelf stands for? Well, let me tell you!
Essentially it means that this wine has been endorsed by some of the world’s very best palates – in other words, it’s top quality!
On Monday I spent the day as a wine judge shadow for the International Wine Challenge (IWC), a British-based wine competition that receives tens of thousands of entries every year. What an interesting and delicious experience it was.
“The room is packed to the rafters with wine experts, all with noses plunged in glasses and clutching at clipboards as they busily squiggle away their thoughts.”
The judging sessions take place in a lovely space overlooking the majestic cricket ground of The Oval. The room is packed to the rafters with wine experts, all with noses plunged in glasses and clutching at clipboards as they busily squiggle away their thoughts. I joined a panel of four wine professionals which tasted its way through several wines from French to Mexican and even Columbian! From sweet to savoury and dry, I certainly put my palate through its paces – a spin class for the senses!
All the wines are ‘tasted blind’, industry speak for ‘you can see neither the bottle nor the label’ so that it’s totally impartial (the judges themselves aren’t blind-folded – that would make for one very messy event!). The only information revealed to the judges is which grapes are used to make the wine, the alcohol content and the country/region of origin. This gives the judge a general reference point as to what the wine should represent so that it’s a fair contest. There is an incredibly complex and rigorous process put in place by the IWC – far too complicated for a blog post – find out more here: International Wine Challenge
Once every wine is popped, poured, swirled, sniffed, sipped, spat several times over… the winners are revealed and stickers are placed on bottles all over the world.