From The Front: On Trophy Wines & Purple Teeth

The Australian wine industry is famous for its system of wine shows which hand out gold, silver, and bronze medals for top rated wines as well as trophies for those wines deemed to be the best of class or best of exposition. In many cases, winning a trophy can bring increased wine sales. But what really counts is the publicity for those winners and more importantly, the recognition from their peers in producing a top quality wine.

The wine show system is not without controversy. Critics claim that by tasting so many wines, only the big and bold styles are recognized. Conspiracy theorists say that wineries submit entries that are not actually the “official” bottling released to the general public. Others argue that there are simply too many wine shows. Be that as it may, the Australian show system isn’t going away.

I am currently judging at The Sydney International Wine Competition 2010 as one of 12 judges tasked with assessing almost 2000 wines. The panel includes five Masters of Wine, winemakers, journalists, and even a doctor. Over four days, we have sipped, slurped, and bemoaned the state of our purple teeth. Tonight after the judging is officially over, we all get dressed up for a formal thank you dinner and speeches- a tradition in the Australian wine industry. I’ll have more to say about the Sydney show as well as some comments about the show system in a later blog. Cheers!

One of the first of many, many flights...

But one of many flights...

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