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You can be a Wine Judge for $50

Posted by CMH Gourmand on August 12, 2010

(Sunday August 15th: Sorry title correction: – You could have been a Wine Judge……I just found out all the judge slots are full.)

Objectively, judging, evaluating, tasting and opining about food is a subjective trade. I judge at the North Market, for Kansas City BBQ Society competitions and elsewhere. Judging can be hard work. The volume of food can be overwhelming or underwhelming. The quality can vary as well. My greatest challenge is when I am judging wine because it is something I only have intermediate knowledge of and because the way it is done is objective and means medals for some. I just finished a wine judge refresher class on Tuesday.

I have attended the Columbus Food & Wine Affair for the last two years and look forward to going again in September. In 2009, I was able to become a judge for the Grand Tasting. Each year, The Food & Wine Affair receives 350 or more wines for competition. A group of judges including wine experts, distributors, industry insiders, food writers and a gourmand set out to score them objectively. We sample five to eight (or more) flights of wine rating appearance, taste, bouquet, aftertaste and other factors to come up with scores from a low of 0 (never happens) to 20 (rare). In the course of a morning of judging, I may try fifty to eighty wines. Sounds like fun? It is. However, sampling that much wine wears you out. You really have to focus on the sip (one will do) and spit aspects of the tasting process. If you focus on the slurp, swallow and chug aspects of wine drinking you will be done for.

I really enjoy this experience because it forces me to focus on one wine at a time. Unlike food where the focus is flavor and consumption, judging wine breaks things down to different aspects of the wine and enhances the experience. It is like tasting one bite of steak, savoring it, then moving on to something else.

As a wine enthusiast judge you will be trained by Rob Somers, the Wine Competition Chair. Rob will conduct an educational session that guides novice judges through the intricacies of tasting and judging wines. I have known Rob for a few years, he is very knowledgeable (and started his culinary career at Casa Nueva in Athens). After your training you will be judging wine the same way I am (but drinking less) and you will get to make picks for a new wine award, the People’s Choice. You also get a light breakfast and lunch at Columbus Fish Market. This all happens the morning of August 21st.

The 2010 Medallion winners and the People’s/Enthusiast’s Choice will be announced at the Columbus Food & Wine Affair Grand Tasting on Friday, September 24, 2010. Guests will be able to sample all competition entries that evening.

If you want to join the world of judging you can jump in with help from the link below:

Wine Enthusiast Competition / Judging

One Response to “You can be a Wine Judge for $50”

  1. Do you know where/how I can become a craft beer judge? My knowledge of wine is sorely lacking but craft beer is where my taste buds sing. I’ve had very serious discussions about how hoppy/bitter/wheat/etc. various craft beers are with brewers.

    CMH G Reply: A place to start would be with local home brewers – Another resource is People in both groups can point you in the right direction.

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