Here are a few rambling words about the recent Taster’s Guild Consumer’s Wine Judging that was held Aug. 20 – 22 in the Washington D.C. area. This year was impacted by the economy as the numbers of entries was reduced from past years. Thankfully the economy had no impact on the quality of the wines that were judged.
We tasted/judged close to 500 wines from through out the U.S. and we also had wines from overseas. The Central Maryland Tasters Guild (CMTG) hosts this annual event.
When most if not all people think of wine, they think of wine made from grapes. This judging belays that assumption. Given the various climes throughout the U.S., we had the pleasure of tasting/judging both grape and fruit wines. There were surprises in every round of judging.
The Consumer’s Wine Judging is a little different from other judgings. The tasting/judging is done by Taster’s Guild wine enthusiasts (of various levels of expertise). Each table of judges are monitored by a table captain who has multiple years of judging and have an extended knowledge of wines. This year we were able to include some of the certified wine sommeliers and wine stewards from the local restaurants/wine bars. In the Consumer’s Wine Judging, the wines are judged not only against the varietal/fruit, but also within the retail price point range.
We started tasting/judging on Thursday evening with a single session of judging. Judging continued with two sessions on Friday and concluded with another single session on Saturday. In each session, the judges tasted/judged over 100 wines. Each individual table of judges and captain would judge around 35 wines per session. Yes, spit buckets are provided!!
I was a member of the “back room” crew where we would prep the wines by numbering the bottle by retail price point range and varietal. We would then bag each bottle after removing any identifying capsule to ensure a blind tasting. As the tasting/judging progressed, we would move the bottles into the judging area where a member of the “front room” crew would flight the wines according to their residual sugar and the price point.
This year had some very pleasant surprises. While we didn’t have any persimmon wine this year, we had rhubarb, elderberry, strawberry, peach, and other fruit wines. We had some varietals that one normally doesn’t see outside of the local production area (St. Pepin and Niagara) and we actually had an aqua colored wine! The wine was the Bluestone Catawaba from the Hidden Creek Vineyards & Winery in Laceyville, PA. After the judging, we called the winery and asked about the color of the wine. We were told that the winemaker made the color of the wine similar to that of the color of the water in the local quarries.
I had the distinct pleasure of tasting all of the Double Golds (one of the benefits of being in the back room!! My favorites were the Lakewood Vineyards Niagara (NV) and the Wyldewood Cellars Spiced Elderberry. The Niagara had almost a perfect balance and great tongue and finish…. all of that for under $10. The Wyldewood Cellars Spiced Elderberry got your attention as you poured into your glass. The scent of the cloves and cinnamon tickle your nose before you even have a chance to swirl the glass. The taste of the wine was smooth, round, and luscious. It wasn’t cloyingly sweet. Everybody was arguing whether the wine would go better with the Thanksgiving turkey or ham…. I think I will make both and do another wine judging.
I am including a weblink for the tasting/judging medal announcement (A) and the results (B). The tasting notes for the Double Golds will be released at a later date.
This event is a lot of hard work for both the Tasters Guild national headquarters and the Central Maryland Tasters Guild chapter. We started receiving wine several weeks before the competition and actually had some shipments arrive after the competition had started. The CMTG members spent several evenings receiving/sorting/data basing the wines before the competition. On the days of the competition, we would start at 7:30AM and would wrap up around 11:00PM. We were all tired at the conclusion of the competition.
Will we do it again….. Oh yeah!!
Now I have to get ready for the Tasters Guild International Wine Judging in April….
Until then… ching-ching