Looking at the past winners is one indication of a competition’s value, but arguably so are its judges. Who are the people tasked with making the decisions about which drinks win an award? It’s why the three London drinks competitions, London Wine, London Beer and London Spirits – only works with managers, buyers, sommeliers and bartenders that are professionally working in retailers, bars, restaurants and pubs.
Which wine, beer or spirit competition is right for you? Here’s some of the lead judges in the London Wine, London Beer and London Spirits Competitions to explain why they are involved in these competitions.
There has been a fair bit of controversy this year in terms of the finalists and nominees that have been chosen for the various major film and music competitions, from the Oscars to the Brits. Which ultimately comes down to the quality of the judges and the criteria they are using to pick their potential winners.
Thankfully when it comes to judging in major drinks competitions you don’t have to worry about diversity and gender imbalances in whichever products get selected for a medal or a trophy.
But that does not mean the quality and integrity of the judges is not paramount in determining which drinks competition is seen as having more prestige and weight over another.
It’s a difficult balancing act to get right as tasting and assessing drinks is ultimately a very subjective process, no matter how experienced any particular individual might be.
Which is why when the London Competitions were launched in 2018 by the Beverage Trade Network it knew it would be how robust its judging process was, and the quality and the reputation of the judges involved that would determine how successful it was.
It’s why its list of judges is drawn from leading retail chains, wholesalers, distributors, and on-trade groups across a variety of channels and disciplines including multiple retailing, convenience stores, cash and carries, specialist retailers, casual and fine dining, hospitality and the travel industry.
But they all have one thing in common. They are all still involved in the buying, listing and selling of wines, beers and spirits in their respective businesses.
It’s also why it made its ground rules different to any other competition. Rather than base its winners purely on how they tasted blind, it uses that as the starting point to then reveal what the bottle is, how much it costs and what it looks like.
That’s what the judges are then asked to based their scores on. Split with a different weighting for each: Q (Quality Score) + Value Score (V) + Package Score (P) = London Drinks Score.
- Quality Score: marked out of 50
- Value Score: marked out of 25
- Package Score: marked out of 25
What the judges say
So ahead of the final entry date (February 28) for the separate 2020 London Competitions here is a selection of the top judges in each event explaining why they are involved or have been involved in judging up to now.
London Wine Competition
Pasquale Carandente, fine wine shop manager at Philglas & Swiggot
“It was a great experience to be involved in the judging. It was great to work alongside professional people in a very welcoming environment. They were the right testing sessions for the purpose of the actual market. I would absolutely to do it again next year”
Simon Field MW, wine consultant, ex Berry Bros & Rudd
“I like the way that there is a clear thread of feedback to producers about market positioning and the aesthetic of presentation. The organization of the event, allied to the caliber of the judges and the broad range of wines tasted make this a significant competition, a worthy addition to an admitted crowded market in London. ” https://www.linkedin.com/in/simon-field-mw-873790177/
Barbara Drew MW, events manager, Berry Bros. & Rudd
“It is a very friendly and welcoming competition. I particularly liked the excellent camaraderie amongst the judges and it was really great to be able to discuss the merits of the wines with such a talented selection of tasters.”
Matteo Furlan, head sommelier, The Ritz
“I think that this competition will be very successful in the future. It is the right concept and way to do it. A lot of very knowledgeable judges and a lot of different opinions. ”
Roberta Neave, category buyer wine at Star Pubs & Bars
“I really enjoyed the experience of taking part in the wine judging. I would be keen to return!”
London Spirits Competition
Charlotte Charret, head bartender, Bloomsbury Club Bar
“I very much enjoyed the experience of judging in this competition. It’s really nice to taste a few products I didn’t know – and to find some that really good and interesting.”
Rui Tavares, assistant bar manager, London Marriott Hotel County Hall, London.
“It was a great experience to get to try all of the thin spirits. It was also a good opportunity to increase my own knowledge and get to know people that work in the same business and widen your contacts.”
Luke Ridge, hospitality consultant
“It was a wonderful day out of my bar. The other judges were good to meet and talk to. It’s nice to feel your opinion is appreciated.”
Montana Aurenie, assistant bar manager, D&D London
“It was really a pleasure to come back this year and I will be more than happy to participate again next year. I really love this competition. It is a good opportunity to discover products and meet people in the same industry. It is very nice to be able to judge the spirits industry. It is very nice to be able to judge spirits and to be able to be an ambassador of it. It has been a great experience”
Luca Rapetti, assistant bar manager at Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London
“It was my second year as a judge and each time I have taken this opportunity to improve my tasting skills and meet colleagues and more people from the industry.”
Jonny Tyson, beer educator and consultant
“I love that we mark packaging. It’s great to reward smart, eye-catching and informative design. As a previous beer shop buyer and manager, packaging can really help sales.”
Alex Stevenson, founder The Drink School
“The London Beer Competition is a enjoyable competition to judge as not only are you judging on the quality of the entries, but also on their appeal to consumers based on the value for money and the packaging “
Cheryl Cade, beer consultant
“I found it was really smoothly run and is an all round competition for brewers about all of their product.”
Roberto Ross, owner of Roberto’s Bar, Marchand de Magie at Brasserie Fantôme.
“It’s excellent to be a part of the competition again. I’m looking forward to next year.”
How to enter London competitions: Deadline February 28
The final date to enter the London Drinks Competitions for 2020 is February 28 so if you want to have a chance of impressing the judges click on the links below for details on how to enter.