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I’m with Debra Del Fiorentino, President/Founder of the IWWC, holding one of our winning wines…

Welcome back, my friends! As promised, today’s the day when all will be revealed.

At the end of today’s Sweepstakes Round – which *all* of our judges participate in – we’ll find out the winners in *all* the categories of 2017’s International Women’s Wine Competition.


Join me now in the “inner sanctum” – the closed-off “judges’ chambers” of our spacious tasting room – and I’ll explain how the Sweepstakes Round works:


Yesterday (Click for Info), each panel of three judges tasted its own assigned wines (around 150 per panel, in “flights” of various types of wine), and awarded Bronze, Silver or Gold medals to wines that merited them.

Yesterday, when we were still in panels of 3 (see 3 more tables in background), each group judged different wines. Each panel sent only its top wines of each category to today’s Sweepstakes.

• For any given wine, if all three judges agreed that it deserved a Gold medal, they awarded it “Double Gold” status. (And if any category had more than one Double Gold wine, a taste-off determined the “Best of Class” wine for the Sweepstakes.)


• In today’s Sweepstakes Round, *every* judge got to taste the very top wines from *every* panel. I always look forward to Sweeps Day, first because *all* the wines have the very highest ratings to start with – and equally important, that *every* judge will have a voice in deciding the Best of the Best.

Today for Sweepstakes, all our judges sit at a huge U-shaped table. Each judge has an identical layout, with an array of many types of wine. (Here at my setup, a volunteer pours a sparkling wine at the last minute so it will be as fresh as possible.)

• While we judges are fortifying ourselves with breakfast, the volunteer team is busy in the back room, laying out glassware and pouring wine. We can’t even peek until they’re done.

• Each wine glass is identified only by a letter and code number, with a score sheet at each place setting that shows what type of wine (e.g. Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Red Bordeaux Blend) is in each glass. (There’s no further information, though, as to vintage, appellation, etc.)

• Each judge tastes and evaluates each wine. At this point, I personally prefer writing down a numerical score (generally in the 80-100 range) for each wine, which makes the next stage easier.


A closeup of some of my whites, reds, and 2 sparklers. We taste and score each one, then vote.


• Now comes the outside-the-box part (with an admittedly weird comparison) that leads us to our top winning wine. Have you ever watched a dog show, live or on TV? It uses a process of elimination that’s similar to ours, in which the judges narrow the field down step by step until they arrive at the Best in (of) Show.

When we evaluate our wines, we have to know what aromas and flavors are “correct” (and less so) for each type, just as the dog-show judges have to know the detailed standards for each breed.

And since wines have “personalities,” just as dogs (and judges!) do, there’s always some subjective, shall we say, “wiggle room.”


In the Sweepstakes round, we raise our hands for all the wines we like, then our votes are counted.

Just as the various breeds of, for example, Terrier (e.g. Cairn, Jack Russell, Airedale, etc.) compete against each other in the Terrier Group, we compare Best Chardonnay against Best Sauvignon Blanc, Best Riesling (etc.) to determine Best White Wine. Same for Best Sparkling Wine, Best Red Wine, Best Dessert Wine etc.

And in the dog show’s final showdown, it’s Best Terrier against Best Hound against the best of the Herding Group, Sporting Group and several other Group winners. The top dog gets the top prize – Best In Show.


Two “Best Of Class” winners. By a *huge* coincidence, I had tasted the Priam Riesling – from Connecticut (!) – at my college reunion, in New York, a couple of weeks earlier.

For us, it’s Best Sparkling Wine versus Best White Wine, Best Rosé Wine, Best Red Wine, Best Fruit Wine and Best Dessert/Late Harvest Wine. (Six categories versus seven for dogs.)

Like the dog show, our wine competition compares the best examples of each category – using a very similar process of elimination – to arrive at our overall Best Of Show. (No “dogs” on THIS table!)

Time now for the Big Reveal. The winners of the 2017 International Women’s Wine Competition are (the envelope please)…


BEST OF SHOW – WHITE: 2016 Clif Family Winery Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley, Oak Knoll District, $38.00)

BEST OF SHOW – SPARKLING: 2009 Gloria Ferrer, “Royal Cuvee” (Carneros, $39.00)

BEST OF SHOW – ROSE’: 2016 Nichelini Family Winery Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé (Napa Valley, $27.00)

BEST OF SHOW – RED: 2014 Benziger Family Winery “Tribute” (Estate, Sonoma Valley, $85.00)

BEST OF SHOW – FRUIT WINE: 2015 Coyote Moon Vineyards “Razzle Dazzle” (New York State, $15.80)

BEST OF SHOW – DESSERT/LATE HARVEST: NV Cana Sweet Vermouth (Virginia, $32.00)

After the final vote – to select the overall Best of Show (the Best of the Best) – the 2014 Benziger Family Winery “Tribute” (a Bordeaux-style blend; our Best of Show Red) – came out on top. Congratulations to a truly wonderful wine!

After the Sweepstakes votes are counted, we finally get to see – and taste – our winning wines.

As always, it was a wonderful competition. Hope you had as much fun as we did!

And as always, I’m already looking forward to next year. See you soon!


Until next time, my friends,
Cheers and happy tastings,

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You can also email me at Rosina@DrinkWineWithDinner.com with comments or questions. I look forward to hearing from you!

Cheers once again,