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Posted: Friday, 15 June 2018 14:40

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London Wine Competition with a Difference gets ready for 2019

June 15: After reporting a successful inaugural year, the London Wine Competition (LWC) is getting ready for the second edition to implicitly challenge the well- established competitions like Decanter Awards, International Wine Challenge and International Wine and Spirits Competition along with several smaller ones that include Drinks Business Global Masters, with a USP that gives equal importance to the pricing and packaging besides wine quality and has roped in 3 more local Masters of Wine as judges, writes Subhash Arora

Once I interviewed the South African David Hughes, a fellow judge with me in several international wine competitions. Recently turned 80, he is perhaps the oldest active (till recently anyway) wine judge who got South Africa involved in the international arena through competitions and has over 40 years of judging experience in wines and spirits. I asked him a simple question- What is the objective of wine competitions. His answer was equally simple and quick-it makes money for the organisers!

Making money in competitions is no sin-like making wines to make money, as confirms Robert Joseph, the well known author, writer and a man who has organised several competitions including the well known-International Wine Challenge in London in 1984 (now chaired by Charles Metcalfe).

Both are simple explanations; in real life, there would be no participation if the competition does not add value to the product branding and marketing. After all, the producers risk their reputation and spend a fair amount of money in sending the samples. It is fair to assume that this in fact does happen- looking at the travelling Concours Mondial de Bruxelles and Mundusvini in Germany which receive around 10,000 samples in less than 20 years. The older ones like International Wine Challenge, International Wine and Spirits Competition and Decanter Awards have already crossed that benchmark.  There are hundreds of such and smaller competitions around the globe that boast  a decent participation.

But the glamour, mystery and history of London always makes it an attractive venue for such competitions. The Drinks Business started a competition and has expanded in several areas. It was thus no surprise that London Wine Competition joined the club last year and after declaring the results, is ready to roll out the next year’s edition in March, 2019.

But in order to sustain in the highly crowded sector, this competition has gone a step further. The Beverage Trade Network, a US based company into various action-oriented event based programs that brings wineries and consumers together, decided to add packaging and pricing into the picture as well (Pricing is already considered by some as a category) in the new competition. Their logic is seemingly infallible- when a customer who does not know much about wines or the competition does not see the quality of the wine or the medal it has won. He/she is attracted first by price and then packaging and finally the quality when he opens the bottle.

The London Wine Competition (LWC) was launched in late 2017 with the first competition taking place on March 8-9, 2018, of course in London. ‘It was to judge wines the way consumers judge them. In contrast to other wine competitions where winemaking ability and technical expertise sometimes receive primary consideration at the expense of drinkability, the objective of the London Wine Competition was to award and celebrate the wines that wine drinkers actually want to buy. All wines were judged on the basis of Quality, Value and Packaging, and then awarded a score on a 100-point scale,’ according to their website.

 In their 100-point rating system, a separate weighted score is given for each of the three parts of the judging process. The scores are then added up to give a final score from which individual prizes are awarded.Quality Score (50), Value Score: (25), Package Score (25) are thus the 3 components.

‘For years virtually all global wine competitions have been organised in the same way-wines entered are simply tasted blind, purely on their quality alone, with no, or little, consideration for their price, value for money, and certainly not what they look like. LWC claims to have turned that model on its head with a new event that judges wines in the same way that consumers do when faced with a wall of wine in the local supermarket or wine store,’ say the organisers.

The LWC has been able to rope in 3 local Masters of Wine to reinforce the judging panels-one of the key component of any professional wine competition. It does have a strong presence of MWs and even an MS. Over 95% of judges are from London or around and include Sommeliers and buyers-an interesting mix.

The next event is on 21-22 March,, 2019. Details are on their website.

Subhash Arora

 

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