The Sydney Royal Wine Show is one of the most prestigious wine shows in Australia. We went behind the scenes at the judging experience and took a look at what it takes to be a wine judge and discover an award winning wine. 

Wine Judging at the Sydney Royal Wine Show

The Sydney Royal Wine Show has a long and proud history of recognising the best of Australian wine, dating back to 1826. Attracting over 2,300 entries annually from over 370 exhibitors across Australia, the show allows exhibitors the opportunity to have their product benchmarked against a cross-section of key Australian competitors, as well as the opportunity to win a coveted Sydney Royal Wine Show medal or trophy.

The wine show is made up of six panels of five wine judges to look at approximately 2,300 wines over four days. The judging panel is selected by Chair of Judges, Samantha Connew and the RAS of NSW Wine Committee and aims to include a combination of wine educators, winemakers, wine marketers, retailers, sommeliers, journalists and expert amateurs of wine from across Australia.

A judge collating notes from the Sydney Royal Wine Show judging

Stewards organise glassware, clearing and pouring to ensure judging is impartial. Wines are poured in the stewarding area and then presented for judging. All judges and stewards are volunteers, and wear coloured medals specific to their roles.

The wine show has a specific set of entry conditions detailed in the wine show schedule. Some examples of these are:

  • Entry fee
  • Must supply 6 bottles
  • An exhibit must not be entered into more than one class
  • Classes are defined by style, varietal, production volume and price

Red, white, rosé, sparkling and fortified wines are all tasted at the show. On a single day a Judge can taste over 140 wines with around 1 minute per wine to taste and score. To keep their palates fresh, the judges are allowed to drink still and sparkling water, and are provided apples, crackers, cheese and olives.

Wines for judging at the Sydney Royal Wine Show

Wines are scored using the 100 point system, with consideration to wine weight, structure, mouthfeel and length of palate. The wine must show true characteristics of the class being judged in.

  • Trophies are awarded to the best exhibits after a judge-off of the top Gold awards from eligible classes
  • Gold is awarded for exhibits gaining 95 points and over
  • Silver is awarded for exhibits gaining 90-94 points
  • Bronze is awarded for exhibits gaining 85-89 points

Juding at the Sydney Royal Wine Show

At the conclusion of the judging on Saturday 29 July 2017, Sydney Royal Wine Show will throw open the doors and share an afternoon of fabulous wine, fine food and great music. It offers wine lovers the opportunity to taste their preferred selections from the show, discover new favourites from the 2,300 exhibits and enjoy a sample of the celebrated Trophy winning wines.

The Sydney Royal Wine Show has partnered with the McWilliam’s Academy of Wine from 2009-2017 to invite members of the trade to the Show each year for a hands-on educational experience. Participants are given the opportunity to taste and judge Show Exhibits, and are invited to compare their scores to those of the expert judging panel, providing an invaluable experience for wine professionals and aspiring Judges.

White wine for judging