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Best Wines For Restaurants Announced After Record Competition

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20/06/2024 2024 Sommeliers Choice Awards Set New Records, Highlighting Top Wines for Restaurants

The Sommeliers Choice Awards for 2024 have just been announced, which is important news for restaurant owners, wine directors, and sommeliers. According to wine industry marketing experts, wine competitions remain extremely important, and SCA connects wineries and importers directly with the on-premise market.  

Wine Competitions Remain Critical Marketing Tools Say Experts

Earlier this year, Eric Kunisawa, CEO of Grappos, recommended “17 Top Wine Competitions to Secure Your Spot in the Wine Market.” His opinions were backed up by wine expert Simon J. Woolf, writing on his Morning Claret website. Simon was asking, “Are Wine Competitions a Load of Rubbish?”  

Kunisawa favorably noted that the Sommeliers Choice Awards, “is judged by a panel of sommeliers, wine buyers, and industry experts. It focuses on wines that are suitable for the on-trade sector, specifically wines that should be added to restaurant wine lists.” He concluded: “If you want your wines to be offered in prestigious restaurants around the world, this is the competition to enter.” 

Kunisawa added: “Receiving any sort of accolade or award from these renowned wine competitions can bring brand awareness, boost sales, and bolster your company’s reputation beyond your wildest expectations. Best of all, these wine competitions come around every year, which means there are endless opportunities to shine.” 

Author of Amber Revolution - How the World Learned to Love Orange Wine and Foot Trodden - Portugal and the Wines that Time Forgot, Woolf took a critical perspective regarding wine competitions; but he too concluded that they offer substantial advantages for wine brands. He broke it down thusly:  

First, wine marketers emphasize the importance of competitive awards to consumers. Woolf writes, “In my experience, consumers often display both healthy skepticism and involuntary attraction towards medal stickers. . . . A medal on the label is proven to positively bias purchasing decisions, albeit mostly in environments where no expert advice is available” such as supermarket aisles. He notes, “not everyone looks that closely. It can just be a case of ‘ooh look, shiny things’.” 

Second, “it’s not simply about sales.” Woolf believes that “for many wineries, gaining awards is about kudos. It’s about putting themselves out there and benchmarking performance against their competitors. Wineries from lesser known regions and countries are often particularly eager to gain positive press and media attention.” 

The 2024 Sommeliers Choice Awards Broke Records

During the 2024 SCA, a record 1500 wines were judged, representing a 40% increase over last year's 1100 wines. More than 30 countries entered wines in the 2024 awards. The United States led in the number of submissions followed by Italy, France, and Australia. 

Image: Judges of 2024 Sommeliers Choice Awards

Unique Wine Judging Criterion

SCA judges were instructed to ask themselves, “Would I stock this wine, and is it good enough for customers to order a second glass?” Wines were graded on a scale of 100 points, with only those above 95 points winning the coveted SCA Double Gold Award. The wines were judged in five categories: food pairing ability, typicity, quality, value, and packaging. Category awards included Best in Show awards for white, red, sparkling, and rosé. Uniquely, a category for the overall annual winner for wine by the bottle and by the glass reflected how the competing wines would appear and perform in a restaurant setting. 

The Overall Winner was a German Wine

Intriguingly, the top wine overall was from Germany: a Spätburgunder (or Pinot Noir). The 2021 Franz Keller vom Löss wowed the judges not only for its quality but also price. It is imported into the US by Delicato Family Wines.  Here are some comments from the judges: 

Alexander Powell, Master Sommelier, said: “Wow. As soon as I put my nose in the glass I'm thinking serious $100+ Burgundy.” Noting that the price per bottle was around $23, he declared: “I want a year's supply!”  He found the wine “exceptional all around. Truly outstanding wine and value.”  

Rachel Lowe, Beverage Director at Levy Restaurant Group, observed the Keller vom Löss: “Leather, smoke, mushroom, bing cherry, solid wine.” It won in multiple categories, including the by-the-glass category, which is unique to the SCA. Wines are judged not only for their value as bottle sales but also for how they will perform in an on-premise by-the-glass program. No other competition analyzes the wine entries in this way.  

Other 2024 SCA winners included: 

Grand White Wine Of The Year and White Wine Of The Year BTG:  2022 Poet's Leap Riesling by Long Shadows Winery, United States 

Grand Sparkling Wine Of The Year: Extra-Brut Blanc de Blancs by Philippe Gonet "TER" Blanc and Imported by UVA Imports, France 

Sparkling Wine Of The Year BTG: Marchese Manodori by Venturini Baldini, Italy 

Grand Rose Wine Of The Year: 2022 Extra Brut Sparkling Rose Wine by Rosemont Vineyards, United States 

Rose Wine Of The Year BTG: 2023 Chateau St. Roch Old Vines Rose of The Saint-Roch vineyard by Carolina Wine Brands USA, Inc., France 

Intriguingly, clearly, the judges took the distinction between bottle and by-the-glass performance very seriously, with distinct wines chosen in various categories. Wine directors will benefit from such analysis by the SCA’s expert panel. 

In conclusion, the 2024 Sommeliers Choice Awards not only highlight the best wines suitable for the on-premise market but also underscore the vital role that wine competitions play in the industry. By bringing together esteemed sommeliers, wine buyers, and industry experts to judge a record number of entries, the SCA has once again proven its significance as a benchmark for quality and innovation. For wineries aiming to boost their brand's visibility and reputation, participating in such competitions offers unparalleled opportunities to shine on a global stage. As the industry continues to evolve, the Sommeliers Choice Awards remain a crucial platform for recognizing excellence and guiding consumers toward exceptional wines.

2025 Sommeliers Choice Awards Submissions Are Open Now. Enter your Wines To Get In Front Of On-Premise Buyers. International and Domestic Wine Submission Period Now Open.