Lest Ye Be Judged: Guest Judging At The LA International Wine Competition

Serious Business

Serious Business

When I check in to guest judge at the long registration table at the Sheraton at the Fairplex, in Pomona, California, my Wines of Bordeaux host hears my name and bounds across the room to greet me. Jana Kravitz is pretty, stressed, and very, very French…or pretty, French and very, very stressed… either way, she ushers me into a ballroom filled with round banquet tables covered in white tablecloths, before introducing me to the five other judges at the table where I’ve been assigned. On the walk over, I feel like one of those President/CEO characters, as she quickly briefs me on what to expect from the event before me.

Essentially, I’m here at the Los Angeles International Wine Competition to taste wines across several categories, record my notes and ultimately chip in to help select a few of this year’s Gold, Silver and Best of Class winners.

I sit down and the first flight materializes almost immediately.

We’re intentionally not given a lot to go on. We get the basics of vintage, varietal and whether the wine is foreign or domestically produced. It’s up to the wines to communicate the rest.

The Score Sheet

The Score Sheet

To be honest, I can’t even tell you what I tasted or what continent it was from. That’s how quickly we flew through the flights. One was six wines, another was 16: Sip, scribble a note or two; sip, scribble; sip, scribble. When the last judge finished his or her last note on the last glass, all evidence of that flight would disappear from the table. It was all very Zen. Then we’d go from person to person, giving our impression of each wine and defending our decision about whether it scored a “B” (for bronze), “S” (for silver) or “G” (for gold). For every “G” wine, judges were asked to assign a number value, from 90-100. When there was a unanimous gold rating, that wine would be set aside to compete for the “Best of Class” designation. Out of everything we sipped, across the handful of flights we judged, two wines received that honor.

Aside from the thrill of being invited to participate in an event like this, the fun of trying new wines and meeting new people, and the close proximity to Dr. Bob’s Ice Cream, one of the most rewarding aspects of the competition was how quickly we had to fly through the tasting. I struggle with being locked inside the windowless vault that is my own brain. I’ll delve deeper into this in subsequent posts, but a constant threat to my continued presence in the wine world is my seeming lack of ability to stop overthinking. When I overthink, my ability to taste is almost always thrown for a loop. And when my ability to taste is thrown for a loop, I feel frustrated and discouraged and I begin to check out. However, in this sort-of speed tasting, I didn’t have time to get too analytical, and as a result, my ratings tended to be on par with how the professionals were scoring. If this event didn’t earn high points on its own, I’d certainly give it some sort of recognition for that, alone.

Most of the wines are available for consumer tasting (see website for details). In recent years, competitions have also been added for beer, spirits, olive oil and dairy.

A complete list of all of the Los Angeles International Wine Competition winners can be found here.

Los Angeles International Wine Competition

Los Angeles International Wine Competition

 

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Wine Tasting Notes

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