How we judge Star Wine List of the Year

From top left clockwise, Arvid Rosengren, Marc Almert, Pascaline Lepeltier, Raimonds Tomsons - recurring jury members.
Krister Bengtsson
Published 05-July-2022
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We started Star Wine List of the Year to celebrate great wine lists and the teams behind them. But how do we judge them and how does the whole thing work? Here Krister Bengtsson, Star Wine List's founder, explains.

Star Wine List of the Year is our wine list celebration and competition. Just like Star Wine List it started in Sweden. Back in 2018 we joined forces with the Swedish Sommelier Association to create a wine day together. The association celebrated Best Sommelier of Sweden and we held our first Star Wine List of the Year to highlight top wine lists and the teams behind them. It was a great day and we have built on it ever since.

Here is how it works:

ENTRIES

All wine bars and restaurants are welcome to submit their wine list, free of charge. Check out each country event to see how you enter.
(Please note the local admission variations in the event posts for each national event.)

Krister Bengtsson.

CATEGORIES & PARTNERS

We have a set of international categories that we repeat in each location, please check out the recent articles to see which ones they are. In addition to this, we add local categories where we have local partners/sponsors. We also add local categories where we see that there are certain categories to be celebrated.

JURY

The jury is an international panel of judges with top sommeliers such as Pascaline Lepeltier, Paz Levinson, Marc Almert and Arvid Rosengren. We often add a local judge, such as we have done with Ruth Spivey (UK) and Edwin Raben (NL) in the past. The international jury is expanding with more judges.

CRITERIA / SCORING

The main criteria is straightforward but not simple: Vote for the most exciting wine list representing the category.

”We feel that this makes more sense than having several very defined criteria, when we have many of the best sommeliers in the world in our jury panel, to give them a freer mandate to vote for lists that excite them,” says Krister Bengtsson.

For the Sustainable Wine List category, both the venue’s wine list and their application statement about their work will be evaluated. Besides the above criteria, the jury should for this category also consider the wine program’s impact, including wine growing, winemaking, packaging and transport.

Instagram post by Isa Bal MS at Trivet, winner in the UK 2021.

Besides the honour and bragging rights, the winners of the categories get a framed Gold Star Certificate to post at their venue, as well as digital badges and mentions on Star Wine List. For certain categories there are other prizes as well - that is decided per category and event, and announced during the events.

THE WINE LIST

The wine list submitted to the event must be a real wine list that is accessible at the venue or on the website of the restaurant/bar - or on Star Wine List. Specially made wine lists for the event are not allowed (for example if the venue has stock that is hidden from the regular wine list). The wine list should include as much information as possible, including vintages and prices. Popup venues and private wine clubs are currently not allowed, nor are wine shops without a proper wine bar connected. We reserve the right to verify contents of the wine list either live or through video call and the right to refuse any entries. Venues that enter the awards must accept that the wine list is visible on Star Wine List - and that we put the restaurant/bar on the guide.

POSSIBLE BIAS

When a judge has any kind of influence over a list - the judge will not rate that list (if it's part of their group of restaurants, if the sommelier has worked their before and was instrumental in building the list, etc).

Winning team at PM & Vänner from our first Star Wine List of the Year in Sweden 2018.

Alright, on to a few questions we get every now and then:

HOW DO YOU MAKE MONEY?

Our revenue comes from the partners/sponsors of the competition. There is currently no fee for restaurants or bars to participate in Star Wine List of the Year. (And there is no fee to be listed on the guide Star Wine List either).

MY FAVOURITE PLACE WAS NOT A FINALIST, WHY?

Either the wine list was not submitted ahead of the deadline, or it failed to get the jury votes to reach the final.

MY FAVOURITE PRIVATE CLUB OR SHOP WAS NOT A FINALIST, WHY NOT?

Star Wine List is all about going out to restaurants and wine bars, so that is what we select for Star Wine List of the Year too.

Thank you for joining us on the journey, please sign up to the newsletter below to stay up to date!

Cheers Krister Bengtsson, founder Star Wine List

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