WineStyle People’s Choice Awards
10 September 2015
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Great things start here, great things start now. Welcome back to another edition of Old Mutual Live. This is the wine edition. My name is Brad Brown and it’s good to have you with us once again and we welcome back another return guest to Old Mutual Live, no stranger to the podcast. Murray Jackson from WineStyle. Murray, welcome back. Nice to catch up once again. Are you well?
Murray Jackson: Thanks Brad, I’m pretty well. How are you?
BB: Excellent, thank you. Murray, the last few times we’ve spoken, we’ve spoken about what you guys have got going on from a business perspective with regards to your print magazine, also the website and the business behind it and buying wine online. We’ve spoken about your Winedowns which is a wonderful show, but you also have awards that you guys put on and I love the fact that they’re people’s choice awards; that it is up to us who drink the wine to decide who wins.
An awards for the everyday wine drinker
MJ: Absolutely yes, that was really what got us involved in starting these awards, was the feeling that wine should, that when it comes to wine awards there should be input from your regular wine drinker, rather than just the wine professionals that judge most of the awards. We feel that we have a fantastic series of wine awards in South Africa and all of them have a place but we wanted to bring in the more average drinker perspective.
We found that the wine industry was really open to that, so we were really happy with that and we launched our first awards last year. They’re called the WineStyle People’s Choice Awards. How it works is that when we have tasting panels doing the tastings of the wines and each panel, which is called a flight, is a mixture between wine professionals and regular wine drinkers.
So each panel is chaired by a Cape Wine Master and we will have at least one other person who is a wine professional on the panel but we’ll have two or three regular wine drinkers there as well and everyone gives their input. We feel that it gives the awards a consumer perspective that perhaps is missing in some of the other ones.
BB: It’s interesting, Murray. Obviously here at Old Mutual we sponsor the Old Mutual Trophy Wine Show and we’re really proud of the fact and the level of competition that we get year after year at that show with Michael Fridjhon. But it’s interesting that you say you get the average ordinary consumer involved as well. What are they looking for with regards to tasting these wines? Obviously if you look at the ones where they have the big scorecards and there’s certain things that need to be met, how does the average consumer score a wine?
How the scoring is done?
MJ: Well, we try and make sure that they are scoring within a set of parameters that are set by the wine professionals on the panel. So we’re not just going in there and asking people to see what they like. So what will happen is that the Cape Wine Master who’s head of the panel will first of all check the wine for any technical flaws or anything like that, that needs to be brought up.
Then they will assess out what this particular varietal should taste like, what they should be looking for and then take the panel through the tasting. There’s a series of communication questions and answers as they go through and then the consumers will give their input and we’ll end up with a series of scores on that.
We just felt that your regular wine drinker is, how can I put this? They are perhaps looking at slightly different things when they are tasting a wine, they’re not necessarily going through a series of technical check points in their heads like a wine professional might do. So we feel that it gives the scores a consumer input that at the end of the day benefits the wine industry because winemakers are making wines for people to drink.
They want people to enjoy them and they want the average drinker to enjoy them because that’s their market. So we felt that by bringing them into the tasting process and taking their feedback into account, it might give us a more consumer-based result than would otherwise be the case.
We’re also working hard at educating consumers into recognising the awards on the bottles and saying that, okay these wines have been tasted by wine drinkers like me, not necessarily just the wine professionals. Therefore if they’ve scored it as a double gold or a gold it might be something that I might like to buy and taste and try.
So I think there’s room for many different wine awards in South Africa and we are just aiming at our little niche with the wine magazine and our wine clubs. We’re perhaps quite well based to bring in the regular consumer because they’re our readers, they are our club members and they are the kinds of people that come to our shows.
So this is just an expansion of perhaps what we are offering to the consumers to say that this is perhaps another little reason, another little help in terms of you getting the most enjoyment out of the wines that you possibly can.
BB: I love that. I think it’s fascinating indeed, and looking at the first set of results, did you find there was a correlation between some of the other shows? The popular wines that fared well with the wine connoisseurs and those wine judges to your panel or were there some that came totally out of leftfield, they’re great wines but they weren’t picked up by the other shows?
Impressive correlation between these and other awards
MJ: We had a fairly close correlation, the wines that got the very high scores were all wines that won well in other wine shows and categories. But we also had a really good response from such producers as Ultra Liquors who did particularly well.
Our wines are also, each flight is matched to a price so in other words we would be tasting wines within a certain price range against wines in the other price range, not a R200 wine against R45 wine, for example. There were some interesting results, definitely, but I think it’s not wildly leftfield to what most of the other wine awards would have come up with.
How to get involved in the awards
BB: Brilliant. Murray, if you want to find out more about the WineStyle People’s Choice Awards, where can they get more info?
BB: Brilliant. Murray Jackson, thank you so much for joining us once again from WineStyle. Much appreciate it. We’ll put those links on our website so people can click straight through and we look forward to catching up again soon here on Old Mutual Live.
MJ: Thanks so much, Brad. Have a good day.