Departments — 11 January 2019
Wine competition offers consumers a taste

By Peg San Felippo

City & Shore Magazine

Some people wait until December to open gifts. I hold out for January.

Why? Helping judge all the wines at the American Fine Wine Competition (AFWC) in North Miami is the best gift I get all year. And, this year, you can sample many of the wines we judge, too.

Celebrating its 12th year, the AFWC has grown to the largest invitational wine judging in the country. This year, we’ll open a record-breaking 900 wines at the competition, Jan. 20-21 on the campus of the FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourist Management.

There are some changes from last year’s competition and consumer tasting event:

Medals and points. “We decided to add a 100-point rating system along with the medals,” says Shari Gherman, co-founder of the American Fine Wine Competition. “While medals are significant and beautiful to look at we think including a point system will give people even more information. If a consumer is more ratings oriented they may be more motivated to purchase a wine based on its score. In regard to the wineries participating in the competition, some like medals, others like points; we will now be able to give them both.”

Rosé another day. All Rosé wines will be judged in a separate international competition on April 6.

“Sipping Through America.” The consumer tasting date and format has changed. Instead of being held after the judging competition, people will have the opportunity to taste 75-80 percent of the wines at the end of the first day. “All of the varietals will be available for the public to taste,” Gherman says. “There will be a dozen winemakers there pouring their wines and available to talk to guests.” In addition, there will be several restaurants serving food as well as an auction and raffle. The money raised from the tasting will benefit the scholarship program for students pursuing a career in wine at Chaplin School at FIU.

The “Sipping Through America” Tasting will be 6-9 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Chaplin School of Hospitality, 3000 NE 151st St., North Miami Beach. Admission is $95 a person. For more information, visit

Ten wines from the 2018 competition I’m still thinking about

Frank Family Vineyards 2013 Blanc de Blanc Brut Napa, $49.99. Virginia Philip Wine Spirits & Academy, Palm Beach.

Rodney Strong 2017 Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc $12. Total Wine.

Hendry 2016 Albariño, $13 a glass, $52 a bottle. Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen, Fort Lauderdale.

Jordan Vineyard & Winery 2015 Russian River Chardonnay. $34.99. Crown Wine & Spirits.

Bee Hunter Wine 2014 Mendocino Pinot Noir. $18 a glass, $65 a bottle. Dune, Fort Lauderdale.

Michael David Winery 2014 Ink Blot Cabernet Franc, $33. Wine Watch, Fort Lauderdale.

The Hess Collection Mount Veeder Cabernet Sauvignon, $35. Total Wine.

Reynolds Family Winery 2014 Stags Leap Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, $99.99. Total Wine.

Shadowbox Cellars 2015 Outline Red Blend, $34.50. Wine Watch, Fort Lauderdale.

Carol Shelton 2015 Wild Thing Zinfandel, $24.99. ABC Fine Wine & Spirits.

Peg San Felippo is a certified sommelier and has served as a judge on the American Fine Wine Competition, South Florida’s home-grown wine event.

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