The International Wine Challenge have returned their selection of top wines just in time for Christmas so you can drink their pick of the bunch with you Turkey. We always like to expand our horizons here at Average Joes, and it is a well known fact that we are big fans of the finest spirits and brewed beverages, but wine?

International Wine Challenge 2014 Winners

We can honestly say that, whilst we may know a little, it isn’t nearly enough to want to join a discussion about balances, complexion, grape varieties or vintages. Fortunately, whilst those discussions all bubble away beneath the surface, the core concept of the International Wine Challenge is about hand picking the best wines, regardless of price, bottle and brand.

The International Wine Challenge describes its selection methods as “the most comprehensive judging process”, and to try and explain it all step-by-step could quite easily take up most of the day. Ultimately wines are hidden in tasting bags so the judges have no idea what they’re drinking.

It is all a little different this year, as the competition has been separated into two tranches. This allows the wines of both the northern and southern hemispheres the chance to be judged at their peak. The second tranche takes place in April, and in May the trophy winning wines are announces. However, with the results of the first round of judging out now, there is almost no excuse for randomly selecting a wine from the shelf to arrive at Christmas dinner with, or any other event for that matter.

International Wine Challenge Wine Hall

When we got down to tasting, we had a stab at picking the best champagne rosé. Do we know what we’re doing? Not particularly, but then, that’s the point of the International Wine Challenge. You don’t have to be able to stand and wax lyrical about the complex high notes, pick high-faluting words to describe the initial taste, nor do you have to agree with anyone else. It is entirely preferential, but at the end of the day, you should be able to appreciate a good wine regardless. Turns out, we really prefer the slightly sweeter wines.

Thanks to this round of results, we now know that you can pick up an International Wine Challenge medal winning wine for less than a tenner. There have been 62 gold medals, 352 silvers and whilst the biggest bargain of the bunch turned out to be Morrisson’s own Alsace Gewurztraminer, a gold medal winning £7.99 bottle. The best place to pick up award winning wines is Marks & Spencer – with 22 silver medals and 23 bronze adorning its wine selection.

Since we are headed for the season of bubbly beverages, there were only 8 sparkling wines selected from the Champagne region this year. Whilst some of these are hard to come by, it is possible to pick up an award winning, delightful champagne for under £30. We highly recommend picking up as many of these as possible if you are hosting a New Year’s Eve party. So many people tend to pick up brand over quality when it comes to Champagne. Its also worth considering the excellently valued £9.99 silver medal winning bottle of Taste the Difference Vintage Cava Brut from Sainsburys.

International Wine Challenge Morrisons Gold Medal Winner

Check out the full list though if you’re thinking of pairings and want to be considered more of a connoisseur than you at first may appear.

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