But when the judges taste the wine,are they only looking at flaws or also the taste? Do they care if a sangiovese tastes like a sangiovese or just how well is it made?Is it oxidized,does it have H2S etc?
I can't speak of other competitions, but the NY State Fair used the AWS rating system, as most of the judges were AWS members. This is available in PDF and Excel on the AWS site
, and I listed it below.
You pointed out another flaw in amateur judging -- do the judges know the wine type? If I was judging Loganberry wine, I'd have to go by what I know, as I've never had a loganberry in any form. The same applies to a judge who has never had Foch.
My comments identify the negatives I experienced, but overall judging was a great experience. 95% of the judges were doing their best to be fair, and the guys who administered the event answered questions and offered advice.
Our job as preliminary judges was to identify the wines that should go to the finals where professionals made the final judging. We also provided written feedback on the wines we tasted. The best and worst got the best feedback, as the wines were easy to describe. The majority in the middle of the pack? These wines were "good" (see below, "good" in all categories is a 13), with nothing that really stood out. Don't get me wrong, I'd cheerfully drink all the wines in this range, but providing useful feedback was tough.
AWS Evaluation Criteria
3 - Excellent - Brilliant with outstanding characteristic color.
2 - Good - Clear with characteristic color.
1 - Poor - Slight haze and/or slight off color.
0 - Objectionable - Cloudy and/or off color.
AROMA AND BOUQUET
6 - Extraordinary - Unmistakable characteristic aroma of grape-variety or winetype. Outstanding and complex bouquet. Exceptional balance of aroma and bouquet.
5 - Excellent - Characteristic aroma. Complex bouquet. Well balanced.
4 - Good - Characteristic aroma. Distinguishable bouquet.
3 - Acceptable - Slight aroma and bouquet. Pleasant.
2 - Deficient - No perceptible aroma or bouquet or with slight off odors.
1 - Poor - Off odors.
0 - Objectionable - Objectionable or offensive odors.
TASTE AND TEXTURE
6 - Extraordinary - Unmistakable characteristic flavor of grape-variety or winetype. Extraordinary balance. Smooth, full-bodied and overwhelming.
5 - Excellent - All of the above but a little less. Excellent but not overwhelming.
4 - Good - Characteristic grape-variety or wine-type flavor. Good balance. Smooth. May have minor imperfections.
3 - Acceptable - Undistinguished wine but pleasant. May have minor off flavors. May be slightly out of balance, and/or somewhat thin or rough.
2 - Deficient - Undistinguished wine with more pronounced faults than above.
1 - Poor - Disagreeable flavors, poorly balanced, and/or unpleasant texture.
0 - Objectionable - Objectionable or offensive flavors and/or texture.
3 - Excellent - Lingering outstanding aftertaste.
2 - Good - Pleasant aftertaste.
1 - Poor - Little or no distinguishable aftertaste.
0 - Objectionable - Unpleasant aftertaste.
2 - Excellent
1 - Good
0 - Poor
18 - 20 Extraordinary
15 - 17 Excellent
12 - 14 Good
9 - 11 Commercially Acceptable
6 - 8 Deficient
0 - 5 Poor and Objectionable