Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi Reveals ‘Bottle Shocking’ Results

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New judging process created by wine industry experts and sensory scientists confirm that consumer preferences are quite different than professional tasters; highlights new revenue opportunities for wine producers and merchants

The Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi today announced the results of its wine competition judged entirely by non-expert consumers. More than 90 everyday wine lovers utilized a new tasting methodology devised by industry experts to evaluate 550 wine entries from around the world. The event was sponsored by the Lodi Tokay Rotary to benefit local and international charities.

The consumer panels awarded more than 200 Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze medals ( to wines from California’s Amador, Lodi, Los Angeles, Napa and Sonoma counties, and also included Washington, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Spain, France, Australia and New Zealand. The 550 wines represent a broad spectrum of flavor profiles from sweet to dry and delicate to intense red wines. There is something for everyone with Platinum awards going to wines as diverse as Moscato, Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Chardonnay, Merlot Rose, Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot and Pinot Noir.

When compared to a typical wine competition utilizing expert judges, the results are indeed surprising. For example, the top three scoring wines are technically sweet with two having more than 3% residual sugar. These results, combined with findings from consumer studies run in conjunction with the Consumer Wine Awards, suggest that the professional’s opinion may not always translate into what everyday consumers like to drink. “We want to provide consumers a basis for expanding their horizons and trying new products that are deemed as special by their peers. One interesting outcome was the Jefferson Vineyards Pinot Grigio 2008, from Virginia, was selected Best of Class last year by the expert judges and this year won the same award for the 2009 from the Consumer Wine Evaluators,” says Tim Hanni MW, a Master of Wine and one of the event founders.

“We want to make clear that the purpose of our event is to help the industry better understand the consumer, and discover new revenue opportunities for wine producers, distributors and merchants,” said Hanni. “No doubt, these competition results will trigger some controversy among wine professionals. The good news for wine experts is that a separate study in the Consumer Wine Awards, conducted with Robert Hodgson, shows that expert judges are more consistent with their scores than the Consumer Wine Evaluators.”

Mr. Hanni and his partners at Diversity Wine Awards, LLC., G.M.”Pooch” Pucilowski and Aaron Kidder co-created the event. The tasting methodology and assessment system was developed and refined over the past four years in conjunction with Drs. Rie Ishii, Michael O'Mahony and a team of their sensory science students at University of California, Davis. The new methodology addresses the fact that every person has unique physiological and sensory differences, which profoundly affect wine and food preferences. The extensive data collected from the Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi, and from a parallel consumer preference survey, are being analyzed by Cornell University professor Dr. Virginia Utermohlen, who researches taste and smell sensitivity and how these factors are related to personality, food choice, eating attitudes, behavior and choice of profession.

"The analysis of data taken from the survey conducted in conjunction with the Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi is consistent Hanni's theory that preferences for salt and sweetness correlate to general wine flavor preferences,” said Dr. Utermohlen, professor of sensory science at Cornell University. “We have a lot more data to analyze, and these preliminary findings look very exciting!"

“When we looked at the data in depth, we couldn’t help but ask ourselves ‘what can we learn from consumers that can provide new alternatives for segments of the market who’s tastes and values may not align with industry experts?’” added Pucilowski. “We are not seeking to replace traditional wine competitions. Our aim is to explore new alternatives and provide options to embrace and cultivate a very large segment of the market that we feel has been disenfranchised by the negative attitudes wine experts often convey about certain wine types and styles. Detailed information is available at and we will continue to post more information as it becomes available.”

Tim Hanni MW
tim (at) timhanni (dot) com

Platinum Medal Winning Wines
§Barefoot Cellars    Moscato    NV    California         97    Platinum
§Jefferson Vineyards    Viognier    2009    Monticello         97    Platinum
§South Coast Winery    Merlot Rose    2009    Wild Horse Peak 97    Platinum
§Charles Spinetta    Zinfandel    NV    Zinetta    Spinetta Family Vineyards    96    Platinum
§Domenico Wines    Syrah    2005    Amador County    Vintage Estates Ranch    94    Platinum
§Jefferson Vineyards    Pinot Grigio    2009    Monticello         94    Platinum
§Nicholson Ranch    Chardonnay    2007    Sonoma Valley    Cuvee Natalie, Estate    94    Platinum
§Nicholson Ranch    Pinot Noir    2007    Sonoma Valley     Cactus Hill, Reserve, Estate    94    Platinum
§Stama Winery    Merlot    2006    Lodi         94    Platinum
§Sutter Home    Chardonnay    2008    California         94    Platinum


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