Like taste in general, taste in wine is highly subjective, influenced by such factors as the taster’s experience, cultural preferences, body chemistry, even mood. That said, some tasting panels are more credible than others and some wine competitions are justly seen as reliable indicators of wine quality.
The UK-based international wine publication Decanter does a pretty good job in that regard. Without false modesty, it describes its annual World Wine Awards event as being “the world’s largest and most influential wine competition” — and many consumers and members of the wine trade would doubtless agree. (You don’t have to be a wine expert yourself to learn these 13 ways to tell if a wine is actually really good.)
This June, Decanter assembled about 170 experienced tasters — including 11 Master Sommeliers and 44 Masters of Wine — to taste 18,094 wines from 56 countries. The 50 wines that earned the highest scores were awarded a Best in Show medal at an awards ceremony on July 7.
Some 17 countries made the cut, with three heavy hitters in the wine world perhaps not surprisingly earning the most places — France (15 entries), Spain (nine), and Italy (seven). Less expected might be one wine each from Canada (a Niagara Peninsula chardonnay), Georgia (a blend of cabernet sauvignon and an indigenous grape called sapervai, aged in clay pots), and the UK (a sparkler from Kent made with traditional Champagne varieties).
Some names on the list will be familiar to wine-lovers, among them the Champagne producer Charles Heidsieck, the Burgundy négociant and winemaker Albert Bichot, and the Napa Valley’s estimable Trefethen Family Vineyard. Others will be less so, among them St. Jodern Kellerei from Switzerland, Tselepos from Greece, and St. Andrea from Hungary. (If wine, familiar or otherwise, isn’t your thing, you might enjoy one of America’s 40 most delicious beers.)
24/7 Tempo reviewed the results of Decanter’s tastings, which are arranged by country, and consulted the wine-price comparison site Wine-Searcher to add average prices where available. Global averages were computed by Wine-Searcher. 24/7 Tempo estimated average U.S. prices by averaging out the highest and lowest U.S. prices listed on the site.