I had my first experience judging wine today at the Orange County Home Wine Competition. Local wine makers made submissions to the following categories: red and white (single varietal or blend), fruit, and dessert. I judged 21 sangioveses and 8 barberas. At the home wine level, I was looking for
1) balance of fruit, acid, alcohol, and tannin
2) the wine to exhibit the nose and flavor profile of the varietal*
My panel agreed that there were a handful that achieved both - some more gracefully than others. We tasted and scored for three hours with no major breaks. My sense of smell and taste became fatigued around the 25th wine, so under 30 wines in 3 hours was about right to ensure fair and consistent results. I'm glad I was assigned to judge local expressions of varietals I normally only drink from Italy. It really made me appreciate what a talented winemaker can achieve (close to) anywhere in the world.
Thanks to all of the friendly people who said hi to the "new judge" and made me feel so welcome. And to the Miller family who showed me the ropes, Jan for the picture above, and John for his jacket. Hope to see you all next year!
*(we had one sangiovese that was well made wine that tasted great...but it tasted like zinfandel)