What’s New in the World’s Best Wine Lists?

As some of you may know, I spend time each Spring participating as a judge for the World’s Best Wine Lists competition held by the World of Fine Wine magazine.

This week I spent a couple of hours of the early morning on the phone with my fellow judges working through what amount to essentially the semi-finals of this competition. In preparation for this call, and in the course of judging up until that point, each of us judges reviewed literally hundreds of wine lists from restaurants and wine bars all over the world, ranging from single page lists at boutique eateries to 300-page tomes at some of the top restaurants of the world.

It’s a fascinating exercise, and one which yields some interesting insights each year, which I must reserve to share only after the announcements of our judging results are made, but I was interviewed about some of my high level impressions following the initial rounds of judging.

You can read what I had to say here.

In some ways, judging wine lists is pretty grueling. It’s not like reviewing wine books, where there’s real prose and information to read. The real trick with wine lists is to avoid your eyes glazing over as you read through page after page of wines and their prices. You have to read for several things simultaneously: price/value, the overall structure of the list, the quality of the wines on offer, the quality of the specific vintages on offer, the choices implicit in the wines selected, the diversity of the list in its entirety, and the story that the list seems to be telling in terms of what the wine director or sommelier things you might want to drink.

More than anything, I leave the judging process each year desperately thirsty, and with a list of places all over the globe that I’d love to sit down and have a drink, or three.

Wine list image © Elcabron | Dreamstime.com – Wine List Photo