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Nation's Leading Restaurant Buyers Join The Sommeliers Choice Awards Judging Panel

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27/01/2020 Imagine your wine brand being tasted and rated by a panel of 50+ leading restaurant wine buyers and Master Sommeliers from across the nation

At the Sommeliers Choice Awards 2020, this will be the reality.

For a winemaker, getting listed in a national chain can be a huge moment - but it’s not always obvious how to do it. Big companies tend to move slower than smaller entities, and getting in touch with the right person can be a trial. In a busy world, that’s something that winemakers might put off indefinitely.

And that is where we come in. This competition is judged by a panel of leading sommeliers, master sommeliers, and on-premise wine buyers from across the USA.

The goal of the Sommeliers Choice Awards is simple: to provide on-premise buyers and sommeliers a valuable benchmark for understanding which wines would make a compelling addition to a wine list.

The top two questions that sommeliers will be attempting to answer as they review wines are:

1. “Would we stock this?” and
2. "Will the consumer buy the 2nd glass".

Each Wine will be rated on:

1. Food Parability
2. Typicity
3. Value
4. Quality
5. Package


Judging Panel at 2019 Sommeliers Choice Awards
A quick group photo with the SCA team,
After the SCA 2019 Judging Session



Preparing to Commence the Judging Session
Judges getting ready for the
SCA 2019 Judging Session


Get Your Wines Rated By Leading Restaurant Wine Buyers


Brian Phillips
Director of Wine Strategy,
Darden Restaurants

Emily Wines MS
Vice President, Wine & Beverage
Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurants

Dora Lobo
Beverage Director and Sommelier,
The Catering Company of Washington

Jackson Rohrbaugh
Founder and President,
Crunchy Red Fruit

Gary Russell
Sommelier,
The Ritz-Carlton, FL

Jennifer Gomez
Beverage Director & Sommelier,
Greens Restaurant, SF

Tiffany Tobey
Certified Level II Sommelier,
Hilton Anatole

Jared Sowinski
Director of Beverage,
The Phoenician, AZ

View All Judges


Judging procedure

The judging panel of the Sommeliers Choice Awards will consist entirely of top sommeliers, wine directors and on-premise buyers at U.S. restaurants, bars, pubs, and clubs.

In some cases, these sommeliers may also be wine consultants for on-premise establishments. They may also have a buying role in addition to working on the restaurant floor.

Medals will be awarded to those wines that meet very specific judging criteria, with a goal of identifying wines that should become additions to restaurant wine lists.

While stocking their wine cellars & bar inventories, the sommeliers look for some specific characteristics in the wine brands that they wish to stock up their shelves and restaurants with. Knowing what the sommeliers desire in their inventory portfolio and wine lists is a definite hack to growing your on-premise wine distribution.

1. Quality

SCA Judging Process

Quality here would mean the aroma, taste, drinkability of the wine, the pH levels, composition, alcohol content, its tannin levels, acidity, and other factors that determine how the wine will leave its mark on the drinker. If the wine would appeal to the taste buds of the average consumer, you can be sure that most on-premise buyers already have your wine brand under consideration.

2. Typicity

SCA Judging Process

Typicity (French typicité, Italian tipicità) is a term in wine tasting used to describe the degree to which a wine reflects its varietal origins and thus demonstrates the signature characteristics of the grape from which it was produced, e.g., how much a Merlot wine “tastes like a Merlot”. It is an important component that is considered while stocking a wine, especially now, with the much increased awareness among consumers about wine and its origins.

3. Pricing

SCA Judging Process

Price of the bottle is another crucial factor that will determine if your wine brand will make it to that top shelf or not. Is a $50 bottle of wine worth paying more for than a $20 bottle? It depends on who's buying. The price that you set for your bottle ultimately creates a brand value that your customers will relate your wine to.

4. Food Parability

SCA Judging Process

The flavor component of your wine is also very important. Wine is more often than not accompanied with food, and the more flavors that your wine can complement, the better the chance of it being bought by customers at a hotel or restaurant.

5. Packaging

SCA Judging Process

People truly identify with a label; in other words, they judge a wine by its label. The label on a wine bottle is of extreme importance because it’s memorable, eye-catching, and customers identify with it. It’s much easier and more natural for someone to remember the design of a label than the taste of a wine. It’s for this reason that you should customize  your label in a way so it will be easily etched into your customer’s memory. The most important part of your wine label is that it’s eye-catching. The wine business is very competitive, so you need to make sure your wine stands out amongst the rest. 

In conclusion, we can say that the best route to making your brand an on-premise shelf leader is by winning the heart of the sommelier. If the sommeliers find your product to be satisfying the above mentioned criteria in accordance with current trends and their future predictions, then you're already among the winners of the wine game.


Sommeliers Choice Awards gathers the top restaurant wine buyers, Master Sommeliers, wine directors who have a direct influence on the US on-premise market.

Put your wines in front of them and get rated by Food Parability, Typicity, Value, Quality, and Package.

If you're looking to get in front of the top sommeliers and on-premise wine buyers of the USA, now is the best time to enter your wines. Save up to $55 per wine.

SCA Entry Process & Fees

Deadline For Submission Is Approaching Fast.

Leading wine brands from around the world now have an opportunity to grow their business and gain the attention of wine buyers, wine directors and influencers within the U.S. on-premise industry. Time to submit your wines in the 2020 Sommeliers Choice Awards.

KEY DATES

International & Domestic Registration: Ends January 31, 2020

Warehouse Closes For Samples: April 20, 2020

Judging: May 18, 2020

Winners Announced: June 15, 2020

FEE SCHEDULE (Per Wine)

$90 - Till January 31, 2020 (Special Pricing)
$125 - Regular Rates
$145 - Late Registration (Post 20 February, 2020)

Quantity Discount Now Available

4 to 9 entries: 10% discount
10 to 14 entries: 15% discount
15 or more entries: 20% discount

(Price in USD)

International & Domestic Submissions Open. Grow Your Brand Presence In The US Market.