How do you become a wine judge?

For more than three decades, the team here at Octavian has helped fine wine connoisseurs from across the UK deepen the value and pleasure they get from their beloved wine collections. Not content with just providing this exemplary service via our cutting edge Corsham Cellars, we have also built up a stellar reputation for bringing readers all manner of wine news, features and insight.

From the best investments to how to care for various types of fine wine, we have set about leaving no stone unturned in terms of bringing you all you need to know about this incredible industry and pastime.

In our latest feature, we cover all aspects of judging wine. If you have become a seasoned fine wine expert over the years and feel like the time has come to convert your talent for wine tasting into judging wine then this article could be the perfect place to start.

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What Is a Wine Judge 

This phrase may well conjure up images of your school teacher giving out badges at school for the best Victoria Sponge, but it is actually a very sophisticated and glamorous job. The best wine judges will work all across the world at events ranging from local tournaments to internationally acclaimed competitions.

Although much of the job comes down to wine tasting and your ability to separate the good wines from the great ones, there is more to the job than that and you will need to be prepared to be away from home for long stints.

Who Typically Becomes a Wine Judge?

There are no official pre-requisites for judging wine as it will ultimately come down to your ability, but there are sectors that typically stand you in good stead. Wine retailers, investors, agents, sommeliers, makers and of course, critics, all tend to get into judging later in their careers when they can be confident of being a true expert. Experience will play a big part in this and often, people will judge wine on a part time basis whilst carrying on their great work in the fine wine sector.

What Exactly Does One Judge?

Typically, there are two main types of competition and these are as follows: 

Anglo Saxon

This is where wines are scored out of 100 and decision are based on blind tasting. A discussion will then take place between the judges and a final decision is made on which wines are victorious. Judges may be expected to sample as many as fifty or sixty wines a day and the real skill comes as the decisions are not made until the end of the day. So as well as making thorough notes, you need to be able to discuss every wine in detail with your panel. 

Organisation Internationale de Vin (OIV) 

The second type of wine judging is completed under the auspices of the OIV. They do vary depending on where you are in the world but generally, the wines are again given a score out of 100. There are often more criteria than the Anglo Saxon method however and wines are judged one at a time instead of all the decisions being made at the end of the day.

Group discussion is less common with this type of competition and instead, each judge has their set based on their area of expertise. The only limitation of this is that as a guest wine judge, you can’t really learn from local experts but you are trusted to come to the best decisions for your set of wines.

Anglo Saxon competitions tend to last all day too, which can make them more popular as events for spectators. They are both great days out though and although the judges are not expected to get drunk as they judge, the after parties are great fun with local fayre being served from the locale and plenty of fine wine chit chat.

Why Be a Wine Judge? 

Finally, why would one be a wine judge? We have covered the travel, which can be a positive or negative depending on the personality in question. Essentially, it is the perfect way to take your wine tasting skills to the next level. You will probably know by now if you have a refined palate and if so, why not utilise this on the biggest stage?

You can find out more about the various wine tasting certificates you can earn and wine judging in general here, but if you have any questions about this or wine storage in general, feel free to get in touch with the Octavian team.