Do Scores and Medals Equal Each Other?

You hear a lot of talk about ratings and scores these days. That they don’t really mean anything, that they over inflate prices, etc. You hear a lot less about wine competition medals. Do medals and ratings have the same value?  If I made a wine here in Virginia and it won a gold medal at the State Fair wine competition, would it get the same “respect” as a wine that got a 90 point score from Wine Spectator?  Personally I don’t think so, but is that because it was the Virginia State Fair, and it doesn’t have the same prowess as Wine Spectator (insert any wine mag)? So what if it was the San Francisco International Wine Competition, one that garners a little more prestige, no offense to the Virginia State Fair.


I don’t think they do, and I think part of the problem is because of the discrepancy between competitions is so high. I have known wines that have won accolades from International competitions here in the US but have only gotten a bronze medal or not even at the Governors Cup here in Virginia.  I know that there is a huge discrepancy between wine publications and their ratings as well but I don’t think it is as rampant. (maybe it is and I just don’t know)


But maybe it is not about disparity between competitions but more about scale. Obviously, the only way one might know that I (wannabe winemaker) won a Gold Medal at the State Fair of Virginia would be through my wineries webpage, and through a few local papers that picked up the event. Wine magazine X, has quite a larger distribution than say the Richmond Times-Dispatch.  Plus, I can honestly say that I have never seen “won X gold medal” next to the price tag of a wine at a wine shop, but see plenty of score shelf talkers tacked up.


This just came to me as I was reading about a new winery here in Virginia and how in their first year they had won over 90 medals on a select few of their wines.  My first thought was WOW, they definitely sent out a lot of bottles of wine to competitions. The second thought, was ehh, that doesn’t really mean much to me. Scores don’t really mean that much to me either these days, although 3+ years ago they did, before I knew my own palate and what to look for.  So I tried to travel back in time and think that if their website said, “3 of our wines score 90+ from 10 of the top wine publications” would I hold more esteem for them and I honestly had to say yes.


So blogosphere, what do you think? Do you competition medals and scores hold the same value? Or, are they all so subjective that neither of them matter that much?



Categories: wine industry issues | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Do Scores and Medals Equal Each Other?

  1. Unfortunately, medals do not carry the same clout that the points do. I never thought about it until I had the opportunity to be a judge in one of the largest wine judging contests in the Northwest of the US, including Canada.

    IMHO, I think there is more thought and work involved in judging wines for medals then there are for points, because judging for medals are events. They are one-time a year events, unlike giving out points. Magazines do blind tastings and give out points, what? Once a week? And the same editors are tasting. So, if your tastebuds mirror the editor’s (and very unlikely) then you will like the 90 scored wine better than the 89 – – or you think you will.

    Unlike points, a wine that won a medal is given a broader chance to be marketed and sold for the winery, because, no matter the gold, silver or bronze, the winery can still say it is a “medal winner.” If the potential silver medal winner received a 89 from a magazine, it is the kiss of death.

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