"What's in a name?"

Thursday, 13 June, 2013
Shante Hutton, wine.co.za
Dear Chard O’Nay,

I’m always hearing about different wine awards and seeing stickers on bottles but I don’t know if that makes a good wine or not. Which awards are the best for showing that a wine is decent?


Emma du Toit

Dear Emma,

I’m loathe to choose 'the best awards’ as 1), I’ll probably be shot by some irate wine enthusiast, and 2), they all have a wonderful way of showcasing and congratulating winemakers.

Perhaps I would say a good gauge for a wine is how good it is doing universally; The Michelangelo International Wine Awards, set up by Lorraine Immelman in 1997, recognizes the importance of making a mark internationally and so all, bar one of the judges, are from abroad leaving no real room for biased reviews.

We have a number of competitions in South Africa. For example the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show. Featuring international judges as well as local ones, they recently held their annual feedback session offering positive and interesting critiques of the wines they had tasted. They announced the winners on the 30th May here.

Top 100 SA Wines is a competition that is not without scrutiny. Its title states that it is SA's top wines which, with only around 400 entrants, left many people feeling a little indignant. However, marketing-wise, which consumer doesn't love seeing a sticker on a bottle that says "Top 100"? For many of the shows critics, let us remember, if you don't enter, you can't win.

There really are far too many competitions for me to rattle off in one sitting but, I think it is important for accolades to be given and praise served as it entertains a healthy level of competition which in turn ensures South African winemakers stay focused and dedicated. They are also valuable for consumers in helping the everyday John Doe pick something that should, in theory, taste pretty good.

Sales are a good verifier of how ‘liked’ a wine is (it doesn't necessarily mean the wine is good though). I’m brought back to an old saying my Grandmother used to use, ‘It’s not the size of the boat but the motion in the ocean’. I’m not sure what she was referring to, she was crazy. Anyway, I think one can ascribe it to wine, meaning that it's what is on the inside that counts and that it is personal preference, just like rare or medium done steak is a personal choice. Just because a bottle has 6 gold stickers on it does not mean that when you drink it you’ll feel angels dancing on your tongue. It is up to you to ascertain as to which competition/method of praise, works best for you and go with that.

I'd love to know your thoughts on which wine competitions you think work the best. Leave us a comment!

And for further help, read ‘All about the bling!' by Cathy Marston

"Ask me anything darlings"
"Ask me anything darlings"

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