Getting the facts straight. SIWC & IWC Gold Winners

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goldwinnerssiwc1a.jpgSometimes our wine industry is done a disservice by how it is represented in the media – whether that be the mainstream or the trade press. Recently in a trade consultant’s newsletter, the Sommelier India Wine Competition results were misinterpreted and did an injustice to the winners. The record needs to be set straight as sloppy journalism drives uninformed opinions. Shiv Singh takes umbrage at the report.


Firstly, the report stated that a “deluge” of medals were awarded at the Sommelier India Wine Competition in relation to the India Wine Challenge. The report also stated that an SIWC gold medal was not a true gold and the equivalent of a silver at another competition. Here are the facts.
The Sommelier India Wine Competition was held in November 2009. 415 wines were entered of which only 18 got gold medals representing 4.3% of the wines entered. In the IWC, 218 wines were entered of which 10 were awarded gold representing 4.5% of all wines entered. In other words, there were more gold medals awarded at the IWC relative to the SIWC! To use the language of the report, the SIWC Gold was more of a true gold!
64 Silver medals were awarded at the SIWC representing 15% of the wines entered versus 8 at the IWC representing 3.6%. Yes, in this case more silvers were awarded at the SIWC. 23% of the SIWC wines were awarded bronze medals while 16% of IWC winners received the same. Here the difference between the two is not significant and hardly bears discussion. 11% of the SIWC wines were commended while 17% of the IWC wines got Seals of Approval (the equivalent). Here the tables were turned with more IWC awards than those at the SIWC.
In all, 55% of the SIWC wines were awarded medals whereas 42% of IWC wines won recognition. Moreover, if one were to look at the percentages, the fact remains that an SIWC Gold medal was more exclusive.
To conclude, therefore that there was a deluge of medals awarded at the SIWC in comparison to the IWC is incorrect, and reflects adversely on the competition, the judges and the participants.
What’s even more interesting to note is that fewer medals were awarded at the SIWC than at the Decanter World Wine Awards where 67% of the 10,000 wines entered won medals (Steven Spurrier was also chairman of that competition). Large wine competitions do invariably have more winners as better wines are entered.
Here’s another proof point around that – Two years ago when the IWC had 501 wines entered (versus 218 this year) 63% of the wines got medals, more than at the SIWC. Is this trade consultant’s newsletter implying that those medals were too generous and now things are different?
Secondly, the report and the subsequent comments implied that there was no home grown competition in India. Not true. SIWC is precisely that. Fourteen of the judges at the Sommelier India Wine Competition were Indian and the four that weren’t are professionals working in the Indian wine industry. This was indeed an Indian competition judged by professionals who understand the Indian palate. It was also the competition with more Indian wines entered than in any competition before. The majority owner of the competition is the Sommelier India WINE magazine which is wholly Indian too. So yes, India does have a home grown competition.
Thirdly, the report also implied that the SIWC needed to tie up with a trade show to get more attention and exposure. While it can be helpful to tie up with trade shows and the SIWC has been asked by many to do so, the SIWC hasn’t felt the need for it at present.
By running an independent competition, the Sommelier India Wine Competition has succeeded in creating ample buzz and this is likely to continue. In fact, the competition and its winners have gotten more mainstream press attention than any other wine competition before and arguably more than the wine trade shows too.
The competition is also getting year round exposure in the Sommelier India WINE magazine and the accompanying website which reaches thousands and thousands of actual wine drinkers in India. The special tastings held by the Bangalore Wine Club, the Madras Wine Club and multiple tastings organized by The Wine Society of India broadens further the exposure that the winning wines get.
In a nutshell, sloppy journalism that presents opinions at the expense of factual reporting is bad for the industry, bad for the winemakers and most importantly bad for the Indian wine consumer. I hope we won’t see this in the future.
The Sommelier India Wine Competition and the India Wine Challenge are both respectable events, each with their own place in the Indian wine scene. And it is not the place for newsletters to trash one over the other unfairly.
Such insidious comparisons are not constructive (and I don’t enjoy doing this, but I felt I had to clarify the facts). So let’s go back to celebrating the winners – you can find them all in our Wines to Buy section.

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