Ever wondered how exactly a wine judge makes it onto one of the veritable Veritas judging panels?

Be the first to taste the 2011 Veritas Winners
September 7, 2011
Q&A with Dave Hughes – Chairman of Veritas Brandy judging panel
September 26, 2011

Ever wondered how exactly a wine judge makes it onto one of the veritable Veritas judging panels?

1. Are international standards followed during the judging of the Veritas competition?

Yes, we follow guidelines set by the OIV (Office International de la Vigne et du Vin) based in Paris.

2. Who can become a Veritas judge?

A judge may hail from any sector of the wine industry (wine makers, cellar masters, wine writers, wine experts, etc). The only prerequisite is that he or she must have obtained a wine judging certificate from the University of Stellenbosch, a Cape Wine Academy Cape Wine Master’s Diploma, or similar judging accreditation.  The Veritas executive management then compiles the judging panels in consultation with the various cultivar workgroups.

3. What are cultivar workgroups and how do they contribute?

The cultivar workgroups were initiated by Veritas with the aim to bring oenologists and viticulturists together to promote the further development of the specific cultivars. Members organise their own activities.

4. Why are international wine experts invited to act as judges?

The annual inclusion of international professionals aims to ensure that the judging process, as well as the results, is impartial and internationally accepted.

5. And how are these judges selected?

International judges hail mostly from countries where South African wines are sold. Dave Hughes, a South African with more than 30 years international judging experience, delves into his network of people with expertise abroad and assists us to identify the overseas judges.

6. What criteria are applied when selecting international judges?

An international judge (be it a winemaker, wine connoisseur or journalist, or a sommelier) must be a recognized taster in his or her home country with significant international experience.

7. How are local judges assigned to a specific panel?

Cultivar workgroups nominate specialists for the specific categories or wine classes. Qualified judges may request to serve in a specific panel, based on their specific interest and knowledge. Panels are finalised by the Veritas management.

8. How does the Veritas management ensure judges’ integrity?

We trust our judges to act with integrity, and rely on input received from our conveners – proficient people with years of experience. The whole process is also audited by independent auditors.

9. What are the lines of communication between judges and the media?

The convenor of each panel acts as the official source of information regarding the judging of that specific category. International judges are encouraged to share their experiences and opinions on a DVD shown at the awards dinner, through an official press release, as well as in informal discussions with the media.

10. How are panel conveners chosen?

The Veritas executive management appoints conveners after discussion and recommendation of the cultivar workgroups, following a fully democratic process.

11. What is the responsibility of a panel convener?

A convener must assist in the selection of his/her panel and ensure that the panel is fully familiar with the specific class.

Beforehand, the convenor must brief the panel – especially new judges – about judging procedures, the scoring system, mechanics of awarding medals and category of product to be judged during the session.  Panels are reminded that they judge in accordance with the SANWSA systems and guidelines.


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