Winning an award is an honour- a prestigious and boast-worthy event. And winning an award for the production of a fine wine is even more special as it honours the meticulous planning and handling of so many variables that went into the production of this noteworthy wine. In addition to the shimmering new trophy and the oversized cheque, as a bonus the winemaker also gets to boost his or her wine sales by slapping a shiny sticker onto their prize-winning bottles of wine and just like that- triple the price per bottle. I mean, who doesn’t want to buy a wine that won double gold at the annual Veritas Awards- who cares about the cost?
Unfortunately, I have recently started to notice the “cheapening” effect that award stickers can have on a bottle of wine. These days there are so many wine competitions across the globe- too many to count and some winemaker’s and wine marketers believe that the more competitions you enter, the more awards you win and the better your wine is or the better your wine be perceived. Now I believe that there is a few issues with this way of thinking. The first problem is that a lot of these competitions are open for any and all to enter- therefore you can never be sure that your wine is weighing up against the best that the industry has to offer. For all you know, you might be competing against an old ‘oomie’ in the Northern Suburbs that is making wine (or should I say vinegar) out of his garage- it doesn’t mean much to win against him, does it? Secondly, the information regarding the judging of these awards are sometimes questionable. Depending on who the judges are, how many judges there are and what kind of scoring system they use, the results can be variable for the same wine that is judged under the same category in different competitions. And yes, like with all other competitions- the more you enter, the better your chances are of winning but this also may or may not lead to a false sense of bravado as well as your bottle of wine looking like a disco ball.
Sadly, it has been proven that marketing your wine as an “award winner” by licking some shimmering stamps and pasting them on your wine bottles will definitely help to get them off the shelves. But ultimately you as a winemaker have to decide if you want to use these awards and competitions as a way of marketing or if you actually want to compete with your wine and earn legitimate bragging rights that you and your team have earned and can be proud of. If you want to achieve the latter, less is often more when it comes to entering wine competitions- as long as you enter ones that have a standing, positive track record and is carefully curated.
People are different. Wines are different. How people react to and experience a bottle of wine that is covered in numerous award stickers, are different. It is up to you if you want to attract consumers to your wine like magpies with shiny stickers or if you want to stand proud above the rest with a wine that is honoured for the blood, sweat and tears that you and your team have put in to create it.