Tasting Events

Judge Dread?


Yesterday I had my first experience judging wines in a competition – hurrah!

But not ordinary wines, no.  These were a small number of wines entered into the (Irish) National Homebrew Club’s third annual competition, so home made wines.  I had expected they would be kit wines, perhaps with an odd tweak here and there, but no…

They were fruit wines!  The so-called “country wine” category…but nothing ventured, nothing gained!  There is vitis vinifera grape wine made in Ireland, though it’s produced in very small quantities and isn’t the finest you might have tried – though it’s definitely drinkable – see here.  The competition had but three entrants in the wines category compared to hundreds of beers of all types.

It was a very interesting experience, and on reflection I’ve jotted down a few thoughts. Please excuse me if they are bleedin’ obvious!

1) Judging isn’t the same as tasting

When you’re tasting, especially if it’s just for your own interest, you can pick and choose which wines you taste and which of those you bother writing tasting notes for.  If you’re judging you have to taste, consider and write up every wine properly.

2) Judging and tasting are easier with reference points

In the big wine competitions wines are usually tasted in flights of a similar type and / or origin, so wines can be compared to their peers.  I’ve never tasted a dandelion wine before…should I expect to taste parsnips?  Particularly with a very small number of entrants to the wines part of this competition, there was no agreed standard of quality to judge against.

3) Amateur-made drinks are not the same as commercial products.

Here I mean amateur in the best sense of the word – they are lovers of what they do, though unpaid.  Do you judge them by what is available on the shelf in your local wine merchants?  Or do you compare them to the less successful producers who don’t even make it that far?

It’s a difficult one to answer.  Guidance was offered by the head judge and organiser, in that scores shouldn’t be too generous – people need to know what to work on.  But then again, we didn’t want to scare off potential entrants.

And…when a wine is obviously faulty, it’s FAULTY!

Here are the results:

Silver Medal Winner


Bronze Medal Winner

Rose Hip
Rose Hip

See the full list of medal winners in each category here!