Thursday, June 17, 2010

“Twas a Judgment upon Him”

In Scrooge’s tour with the ghost of Christmas future, he heard those words uttered by his precocious housekeeper and felt the wound deeply. Being judged is often not fun, particularly if you have Scroogian proclivities. The next judgment, long before Christmas, is the judging for the New Mexico State Fair Wine competition, set for Saturday, June 19th at the Sandia Courtyard Conference Center in Albuquerque. It is the winemakers that will be on trial as their submitted wines, 195 at last count, will be judged along with other New Mexico winemakers.

I’ll be on hand along with many other volunteers from the New Mexico Vine & Wine Society to blind taste the various categories of wine. This year there are many new and evolving wineries represented, which may be the reason for so many entries. We judges will just have to suck it up.

Actually, that’s the wrong phrase, spit it out is what we need to do to keep our palates sharp and our butts firmly affixed to the chair. Who knew this was such hard work? Yeah, I didn’t think you’d buy that.

In the back room, flights of wine are prepared in glasses and brought out to the judges. Each flight represents a grape varietal except for blends and specialty wines. Only the type of grape is given to the judges, and each wine is rated against the others in a flight. The top wines are then judged for best of show and best of class if any meet the more stringent requirements of those awards.

The judging is done on several factors, the visual appeal, the aroma and bouquet, the palate elements, and how well the three acts of tasting; attack, mid-palate and finish are carried out. We judge if the grape type was varietally correct and how well it shows against other wines of that type.

If you are a winemaker or grape grower or just a wine enthusiast like me, consider joining us and become a wine judge. Members have to purchase their own gavel, of course. Given all the gold, silver and bronze medals awarded nationally and internationally to New Mexico wines, I’m looking forward to sampling the state’s best. Salud!