Want to know how the judging and medal system works for the Decanter World Wine Awards? See our guide below.
Producers are invited to submit their wines and provide us with the wine’s technical details, price and retail availability. Four bottles of each wine arrive at the Decanter warehouse and are logged, categorised and coded according to country and region.
Organising wines for DWWA judging week
Wines are organised for tasting by country, region, colour, grape, style, vintage and price. This ensures that wines are judged in flights against their peers. The price brackets are:
- Entry Level (price band A): up to £7.99
- Mid-Range (price band B): £8 to £14.99
- Premium (price band C): £15 to £29.99
- Super-Premium (price band D): £30 to £59.99
- Boutique/Icon (price band E): £60
DWWA has judges from around the world, including Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers, and many of them are the foremost experts in their field. Judging is organised into categories, initially based on region. For example, Champagne will be judged by a panel of Champagne experts.
The judges taste wines individually. They know the region, style and price bracket, but they don’t know who produced the wine or the brand name. They then compare notes on the wine and reach a consensus on each wine’s medal.
Medal categories correspond to the 100-point scoring system used by Decanter and many top wine critics around the world. See the graphic below or a larger version here:
Wines are judged on their own individual merits. That means it is entirely possible for several wines to get a Seal of Approval, Bronze, Silver or Gold medal in one session. Similarly, another session may yield fewer medals.
Wines awarded Gold or Silver medals are re-tasted by the judging panel’s Regional Chair for his or her confirmation. If a disagreement cannot be resolved, then the Regional Chair may call in the overall DWWA Chair to cast a deciding vote.
Platinum Best in Category
All the Gold medal-winning wines within each region are divided into categories according to retail price (under or over £15 a bottle) and style or grape variety.
These wines are then re-tasted by members of the region’s panel. They can then award a Platinum medal to the best wine in each category under £15 and another Platinum medal to the best wine in each category over £15. However, a Platinum medal will only be awarded if the panel believes a wine’s quality merits such an award.
Platinum Best in Show
This is the pinnacle of the DWWA. There were only 31 Platinum Best in Show medals at DWWA 2016, out of nearly 16,000 wines tasted from the beginning of the judging process.
To decide on these medals, all Platinum winners are split into categories according to grape variety or style. These wines then compete for the Platinum Best in Show Under £15 and Platinum Best in Show Over £15 in a separate tasting judged by our three Co- Chairs, Gérard Basset OBE MW MS, Michael Hill Smith MW and Sarah Jane Evans MW, plus two Regional Chairs. In 2017, this will be Andy Howard MW and Andrew Jefford.
For example, an Oregon Pinot Noir won a Platinum Best in Show medal for Best Pinot Noir Over £15 at DWWA 2016. It was tasted against Platinum-winning Pinot Noir wines from elsewhere in the world, including Burgundy, the grape variety’s spiritual home.
Results and promotion
The results are printed in a special Awards edition of Decanter and on Decanter.com.
Producers can label medal-winning wines with stickers for consumers to recognise in their stores.
Decanter’s Marketing and DWWA teams organise tastings around the world to give consumers a chance to try medal-winning wines. Click here for more information.