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Wine competitions only good for unsold plonk'

Published:  23 July, 2008

by Dawn Cran
Major wine competitions in the UK have hit back at claims that medals are a money-making ploy' that are used to sell unsold stocks of "plonk"'.

The Times published a story last Friday (11 Nov), quoting wine writer Martin Isark, which shed a negative light on competitions such as the International Wine Challenge (IWC) and the Decanter World Wine Awards with comments such as: Who is benefiting from these awards? It has to be the wine houses who clear their stock, the supermarkets who can drum up sales from promotions, and the companies which organise the competition. I am not convinced the consumer gets anything out of it.'

Frances Horder, director of the International Wine and Spirits Competition (IWSC), told Harpers: The IWSC does not run its competition as a money-making ploy - it is a full-time business. Entries need to be made months ahead, which hardly makes it a vehicle for a "producer, agent or retailer stuck with 100,000 bottles".'

In response to a further claim that too many medals are awarded, Andrew Reed, managing director of the IWC, commented: The wines entered are judged on their own merits against a benchmark.

The number of wines that receive a medal is totally at the discretion of the judges, all of whom are from the industry.'

When questioned, Isark informed Harpers that he stood by all his previous comments.