As a wine lover you will know that talking is not permitted during formal wine judging – a rule that is strictly applied when wines are judged for Veritas, the oldest, biggest and most revered wine competition for market ready wines in South Africa. Other unwelcome guests at a judging session are scented toilet preparations, perfume and smoke. Judges may not even reek of smoke – so no in-between smoke breaks are allowed.
Duimpie Bayly, Cape Wine Master and chairman of the South African National Wine Show Associations (SANWSA), replies to frequently asked questions posed by avid wine lovers:
This is the only wine competition in South Africa for the industry by the industry. It is organised by the SANWSA board, which represents the full spectrum of the industry, with no commercial gain. The competition gives wineries the opportunity to compare their wines with others in the marketplace and the consequent publicity surrounding winning wines attracts much consumer attention. A bottle of wine sporting the coveted Veritas emblem definitely influences a buyer’s decision.
Wines must adhere to the minimum standards set by the Wine and Spirits Board, meaning they should be labelled and certified. Overseas wines are allowed to enter without Wine and Spirits Board approval, but there must be 1,200 x 750ml bottles available for sale to the general public in South Africa. Wines and or brandies that received double gold and gold awards have to be available for sale to the South African trade/public after the awards ceremony.
There are no limits to how many wines or brandies one cellar may enter. Wine makers, cellar masters and brandy masters choose their very best to compete against the top wines/brandies of their peers.
Wines and brandies are tasted blind, which means that the wines/brandies are poured in a separate venue and then presented to the judges in glasses. Panels, consisting of seven judges each, are made up of wine makers, brandy masters and experts who taste and discuss the entries in batches of 10 wines. Each judge scores the wine/brandy according to the esteemed international 20-point scale, where after the group discuss the marks and reach consensus.
A wine/brandy which scores 18 or more out of the possible 20 points earns a double gold medal if the panel reaches consensus about awarding such an honour. A wine/brandy that notches-up 17 points will receive gold; a silver sticker will go on the bottle of a wine/brandy which scores 16 points, while bronze medals go to wines/brandies that score 15 points.