Sommeliers, winemakers, wine writers, wine enthusiasts, your pal down the street. They all have something to say about wine. Whose opinion matters most?
Robert Joseph, writing on Tim Atkin MW, has some good food for thought about wine competitions and judges. How do panels get chosen, and what is each competition sponsor looking for? Do judges just focus on one region that is their area of expertise or do they taste around the globe? And what about the opinions of the non-wine pro public? Do want to include these opinions to temper, mitigate, and/or inform critical perceptions? (I guess the kids would call this "crowd-sourcing".)
Joseph has an interesting analogy when it comes to all of this involving, of all things, a camera:
"When buying a £500 camera do I want advice from a mass of consumers who might not even have seen, let alone used, all of the alternatives? Do I want it from a set of professional photographers? Or keen amateurs? Or journalists? Do the professional snappers use their cameras in the same way as I do? Do the amateurs know enough to test it properly? How knowledgeable are the hacks? If the people judging the camera are in another country, does that affect the way they assess it?"
While I am not in the market for camera that costs 500 pounds, it does make you think about what it means when you see a sticker on a wine proclaiming "Double Gold" medal status. (I always wondered what a double gold medal would look like. Is it twice the thickness, like two hamburger patties stacked atop each other? Or is it two medals, side-by-side, fused together?)
How much do the results of a wine competition impact your buying decisions? And how would you composed the ideal panel of judges?