Do wine judges give higher scores to wines made with less-known grape varieties?
An analysis of almost 30,000 different wines shows that wine judges give higher scores to wines made with less well-known varieties of grape. Details of the study are reported in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business.
Florine Livat and Hervé Remaud of the Kedge Business School in Talence, France, have investigated the decisions regarding various wines by judges looking at several attributes, including region of origin, color, still versus sparkling, and so on, but with a particular focus on the grape variety. The team considered the outcomes of International Wine and Spirit Competitions over the period 2013 to 2016.
"On average, wines made from the top ten varietal grapes are graded lower than wines made from other, less frequently used, grapes," the team writes. They add that "Wines of the new world and those produced under a certification of origin rule are given greater scores."
The team offers an explanation for their findings in that wine judges tend to be expert in the various grapes used to make the more well-known wines, such as merlots and chardonnays whereas they have fewer reference points for grapes such as treixadura or adakaras and so are more generous in judging such wines as there is less knowledge about what makes a good wine with such grapes.
With their finding in mind, the researchers suggest that wine producers ought to focus on using less well-known grape varieties as this could increase their chances of obtaining a higher score and medals, which would, ultimately give them greater kudos as a winemaker and help them sell more wine. In addition, the wine judges are perhaps inadvertently motivating wine amateurs and buyers to experiment and so discover wines that one might consider less mainstream. Given that almost 60% of the wines produced in the world are made from the ten most popular grape varieties, there is plenty of scope for novelty and innovation in this age-old realm.
"As part of the authenticity and craft trend, wine producers would gain to develop as part of their portfolio one or two wines made with indigenous varieties and submit them to trade shows," the team adds, such wines stand a better chance of coming away with an award. The research would also suggest that "a wine producer would save time and resources to not submit a wine made with popular grape varieties if not located in a typical wine region for such varieties" as there is likely to be fierce competition and positive judging would be skewed away from awarding high scores to such varieties anyway, as the research shows.