The Judging Process
The IWSC has a 7-point judging checklist that makes us different from other competitions:
Dedicated judging premises at IWSC HQ
Custom-built cellar to store submitted wines & spirits
Judging schedule over seven months of the year
Samples served in numbered glasses
Judging panels are made up of an optimum mix of experts from a diverse range of trade backgrounds
More than 400 judges from over 30 countries
- Our experts assess around 65 wines through the course of the day. This allows judges plenty of time to taste each wine and avoid palate fatigue
Winning a coveted IWSC award isn’t easy, but that’s what makes the medal so well respected among trade and consumers alike. Our panels of handpicked industry experts judge entries over seven months of the year to ensure a considered approach to tasting is adhered to for each and every product.
The Competition runs a structured and rigorous two-stage judging process, first using the ‘double blind’ judging method, meaning samples are tasted in pre-poured numbered glasses so that judges never see a bottle.
Judges taste no more than 60 samples a day to avoid palate fatigue, and each product is judged by a whole panel in sync, allowing for group discussions.
The Competition’s independent Technical & Judging Committee meet once a quarter to ensure the upmost integrity, accuracy and impartiality during the judging process.
The 4 steps to winning an IWSC medal
We believe that a wine competition is an exercise in sound judgement far more than it is an exercise in mathematics. Panel discussions are encouraged before the medal is awarded.
- Wines are expertly sorted into categories and flights and tasted by variety, type, region and vintage. The wines are flighted on a case-by-case basis, either in a group of similar wines, or as a standalone if there are no similar wines.
- Wines are judged blind and served in numbered glasses. Panel members taste and score each wine individually. At the end of each flight, the Panel Chairs encourage discussion and confirm the medals awarded, Bronze, Silver and Gold. If a consensus is not reached, the Wine Judging Committee will step in and will make a final judgement.
- The Gold winning wines are re-tasted by the Wine Judging Committee for their final endorsement. If a medal is contested, the Wine Judging Committee discusses the wine with the relevant Panel chair and judges.
- When there are numerous outstanding examples in a category, the Gold medals are expertly sorted into categories and flights and then re-tasted by the Wine Judging Committee to compete for the ultimate accolade of Trophy Winner.
Why do we need 4 bottles?
- The first bottle is for the initial round of judging.
- The second bottle is for the chemical analysis.
- The third is for a second round of judging if the product goes forward for a trophy.
- The final bottle is contingency in case a bottle is out of condition or damaged in transit (the IWSC provides entrants a second chance rather than giving the initial product an unfairly judged low score).
Why all the deadlines?
The deadlines are carefully planned each year to reflect differences in the global wine harvests around the world in order to present the newest, freshest products to the judging panels.
For example, the deadline for New Zealand wine entries is as late as possible to ensure we can accept 2016 vintages into the 2016 competition.
As all entries are received into the Competition’s dedicated cellars, the multiple deadlines help with precise cellar management to ensure each bottle received is stored correctly and treated with the care and consideration it deserves. Each product received is unpacked by experienced Competition staff and cellared accordingly to remain in the best condition for judging. The multiple deadlines also allow the judging process to be staggered over a 7 month period ensuring the judges only taste a maximum number of wines and / or spirits per judging session.
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- “It's one of the most prestigious awards that we've ever won and we're the first English winery to have ever won this award so we're shocked, stunned but absolutely delighted.”Tamara RobertsCEO, Ridgeview Wine Estate
- “The IWSC is something that I've worked around and respected for a long time, so it's a real privilege to see the IWSC recognising what we do.”Tom SandhamCo-founder, Thinking Drinkers
- “Vivino is one of the biggest innovators in the current wine industry, and the IWSC is a prestigious wine awards, so it felt like a natural fit that we should award wineries that go above and beyond.”Paul JonesUK Country Manager, Vivino