By Peg San Felippo
Being a wine judge may not sound like hard work, but tasting hundreds of wines over two days to find the best-of-the-best can be.
Judges at this year’s American Fine Wine Competition, Jan. 17-18 at Florida International University, will uncork a record 750 wines in search of domestic gems. The ultimate winner here may be consumers, though, because the judges will have done all the work.
“Florida is one of the three largest wine consumption markets in the country which is why we felt we could create a world-class competition here,” says Monty Preiser, co-founder of the ninth annual event.
The competition typically runs 14 hours over the course of two days, with each judge tasting (and spitting) at least 120 wines. The judging kicks off a variety of events leading up to the black-tie optional AFWC charity Gala and wine auction on April 8 – when all the wines will be poured at a gourmet dinner – at the Hyatt Pier 66 in Fort Lauderdale. Advance tickets are $300.
“Competitions are good for young wineries to get exposure in new markets and older wineries to keep in touch with consumers,” says Laura Madonna, a wine broker from Northern California who has three of her clients in competition this year.
Also good, a chance for everyone to taste the wines immediately after the competition on Jan. 18. The “after party” open to the public in the tasting room on the FIU campus. The cost is $60 in advance; $75 at the door, with proceeds benefiting FIU.
For more information about the after party, and all upcoming AFWC events, including the April 8 gala, go to AmericanFineWineCompetition.org.