The People’s Wine
Brush up on your tasting skills by becoming a judge on the People’s Choice Wine Awards
Article by Catherine Ferguson
The People’s Choice Wine Awards…The clue’s in the name. Hailed as The Wine Awards for Wine Lovers, they are the only UK wine awards dedicated to and judged by wine consumers.
Founder, Janet Harrison of Cracking Wine in Manchester, felt that the wine industry can, on occasion, be marred by ‘smoke and mirrors’ and wine snobbery, so she made it her mission to create the Awards, which have been set up to accurately reflect the changing profile of the average wine drinker in the UK (if indeed there is such a thing!).
With more and more consumers using wine apps such as Vivino or consulting peer reviews if they can’t try before they buy, putting consumers at the heart of the judging process offers a golden opportunity for suppliers and producers to hear what people really think about their wine and share their views with others. Last year’s Awards saw a huge spread of entries from supermarkets (such as Asda and Waitrose) as well as independent wine importers, brands such as Laurent Perrier, Bolney Wine Estates and Codorniu.
Now in its second year, the search is on for the Round One judging panel, who will be asked to blind taste wines from specific categories, assessing how well they suit the category and their perception of the wine’s quality. Janet believes that experts and amateurs will often share very similar views on the wines, with last year’s consumer panel matching the votes of the wine industry experts in a staggering 97 per cent of like for like tastings.
Yet another USP of the People’s Choice Wine Awards is that many of their categories focus on the reasoning behind the wine purchase, not just the wine itself. Titles such as ‘Food friendly wines – White for Aromatic & Asian Cuisine’, ‘Pizza Night’ or ‘Party Central’ (Uncomplicated and easy drinking – something to take to a party or festival). The old favourites such as ‘Best Independent Retailer’ or ‘Fabulous Fizz’ (UK) have also snuck in, but perhaps my favourite of all is the ‘Out of the Ordinary’ category. The Awards want to celebrate organic or Bio-dynamic wine making, retro wines making a comeback – with good reason and emerging countries making great wine. Stand by for some surprise new favourites!
Once judging is all done and dusted by the Round One consumer panel, the Round Two panel involves industry experts, who are considered ‘consumer champions’ and will determine the overall winners. Judges include Kate Goodman, who appeared alongside Michel Roux Jnr as the co-presenter of BBC Food and Drink and Brian Elliott, wine writer for a host of publications, including the Scotland on Sunday and Daily Record newspapers.
If, like me, you can’t resist the urge to throw your hat in the ring, applications for judges are now open at People’s Choice Wine Awards, closing at midnight on 31 July 2018. What a wonderful excuse to brush up on tasting skills.