A New Way to Judge Champagne and Sparkling Wines

10th December 2018


When someone asks me ‘what was the idea behind The World’s Finest Glass of Bubbly Awards‘ I like to say that it is all about helping to discover and promote to consumers and industry professionals the splendour of worldwide bubbly. It is not so much a test of the judges’ skills to simply identify the best of each wine sector such as best Blanc de Blancs or champion the best Champagne of the year where a familiar big brand label wine is likely to take away a number of the top prizes, instead we open the doors to all Champagne and sparkling wines to shine through on their tasting merits in way that focuses on relating results to those who buy the wines. Let me explain…

The World’s Finest Glass of Bubbly Awards 2018 was our second year and we saw an increase in entries as global awareness and recognition in what we are doing grows. Once again held at our venue sponsors, the prestigious Marriott County Hall Hotel in Westminster, both the judging process and the awards dinner were held within the most befitting rooms where international gems were discovered and shared. Our honorary judge was of course once again Michael Edwards (the awards have a dedicated Michael Edwards Award that our honorary judge each year will give his vote to) and our chairman was Marin Berovic who is a respected international wine judge based in Slovenia. Over 50 judges from around the globe arrived in Westminster in September to taste and score entries along with designating a category to each entry upon agreement from each judging table*.

Results were in, invites sent out and a sold out awards evening took place in November where Nigel Barden, BBC Radio presenter, announced trophy winners and also the handing over of the main title to Villa Sandi with their Opere DOC Serenissima as The World’s Finest Glass of Bubbly for 2018.

The awards enables any Champagne and sparkling wine, either big brand or unknown, to go shoulder to shoulder against each other in a blind tasting format to discover the best in flavours. This system has proven to work in a most incredible way and to showcase to the world that in each corner of our wine growing international community there are gems both big and small. I simply love it when all the results are in (neither myself or co-founder Eve Walkey judge at our awards so to remain totally unbiased) and we work out who has taken away the top prizes and it always brings up such a wide yet highly deserved variety.

The 2018 results gave us not only fine Champagne winners, but smaller wineries such as from Belgium, Slovenia and Le Marche regions. As the Glass of Bubbly audiences grow and the reputation of the awards grow, it means that us as a brand can really make a difference to all those who win medals and trophies with us as we are simply not an awards concept that hands out medals, scoring cards and notes. We go far beyond that in a much more marketing and promotional focused way in that wines gain medals and / or trophies in an easy to understand category that describes to the buyer what the experience of the wine will offer them, no need to know if it is  93 out of 100 or 17.5 out of 20 wine.

Between each year’s awards, the Glass of Bubbly concept works with all our entries to promote and push their wines to our community of followers by ways such as articles, social media post, masterclasses and private tastings. Categories mean that it is far easier to communicate wines to the all important buyers and those keen to discover different flavours and tasting experiences – As Glass of Bubbly invites to showcase wines increase then so will the opportunities for the wines we promote.

*  The World’s Finest Glass of Bubbly Awards has revolutionised the system for judging Champagne and sparkling wines by offering Bronze, Silver and Gold medals to wines based on their suited, easy to understand and importantly consumer friendly categories such as Zesty & Zingy, Oaky & Toasty, Sea Breeze and Gastronomic. Scores are given out of 100 on the first day with all Silver & Gold medals of each category going through to the second round of judging where they are then scored out of 20 points on how well they are suited to the category they have been assigned to (judges have the right to move wines to a different category at this stage if a majority of votes can carry this decision through). Silver & Gold medals each have the chance to win a Trophy in their category upon being the highest scoring wine (out of 20 points) and if required, upon any drawing of points total, the first days scoring is taken in to consideration as well as any golden tickets the wine may have received (each judge on each judging day has the option to choose their most outstanding wine by giving it a golden ticket). Once all medals and trophy winners in each category have been decided the total scores over two days along with any golden tickets are added together and the wine with the highest totalling score takes home the title of ‘The World’s Finest Glass of Bubbly’ (if there is a tie at this stage, fortunately not yet happened, a separate panel of judges are invited to taste the wines in questions and score out of 100).

Christopher Walkey

Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.