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This focus on delivering the very best wine to the trade starts with the judging criteria of the USA Wine Ratings. Unlike other wine competitions, which usually assign scores and ratings based only on factors like taste and wine-making technique, the criteria used by the judging panel of the USA Wine Ratings also considers factors such as value for the money and packaging. The net result of using these additional judging criteria is that all wines that win medals or awards at the USA Wine Ratings are actually commercially viable. They look great on a retail shelf, are supported by a great brand narrative, and are priced reasonably.
In short, award-winning wines from the USA Wine Ratings are those that consumers actually want to drink. They are the wines that they will look for at retail wine stores, as well as the wines that they will feel comfortable ordering off the wine list of a restaurant.
The USA Wine Ratings was launched in late 2017 by Beverage Trade Network, which organizes wine industry events all over the world. The goal of this event was to judge wines the way consumers judge them. In contrast to other wine competitions, where winemaking ability and technical expertise sometimes receive primary consideration at the expense of drinkability, the goal of the USA Wine Ratings was to award and celebrate the wines that wine drinkers actually want to buy, whether at a retail wine store or ordering off the menu at a restaurant.
“The best-tasting wines in the world won’t attract the attention of consumers unless the packaging design and price point appeal to wine drinkers,” says Patel. “People buy wines with their eyes first, and that puts a real premium on wines that are able to offer an attractive presentation, everything from the label to the brand perception.”
“Including all three factors into the judging process produces results that are closer to the reality of the way consumers purchase wines and gives winemakers better feedback on how their wines are perceived by wine drinkers,” Patel notes.
At the judging session, judges tasted and scored wines on a blind basis before seeing bottles and marking them for on-shelf appeal as well as value for money. This enabled them to come up with an overall score that reflects their overall drinkability.
The 2019 USA Wine Ratings, which judges the quality, value, and packaging was a closely competed challenge with awards for each sub-category of quality, value, and packaging going to different wines. The coveted award for a winery of the year was given to Coyote Canyon Winery H/H Estates Reserve Range which is from Washington State’s 7th American Viticultural Area Horse (AVA) Heaven Hills.
With 41 Gold medals awarded, less than 10% of the total number of medals awarded the competition was fierce. Two of the ‘Best in Show’ awards went to the lesser-known grape varietal Petit Verdot. As well as Wine of the Year, Mercer Estates Small Lot Petit Verdot snatched the Best Wine Quality with a dominant score of 95. LGI Wines King Rabbit’s intriguing blend of Malbec Auxerrois Cot 2018 from the deep south of France scored Best Wine in Value with a close 94 points.
La Marca Prosecco N.V. from the E & J Gallo portfolio was awarded Best Wine by Package.
Wine of the Year Mercer Estates Small Lot Series Petit Verdot comes from the AVA Heaven Hills in Washington State, specifically the acclaimed Spice Cabinet Vineyard. Just 91 cases of this precious wine made with meticulous detail were aged for 30 months in new and used French oak barrels. It is an outstanding example of the specific quality and attention to detail that USA Wine Rating winners attend to in their path to creating great wines.
For more information on the USA Wine Ratings competition, please see: www.USAWineRatings.com.
The 6th annual USA Trade Tasting is all set to happen in Chicago on October 12-13.
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