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 21-February-2021
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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. It was a win-win and we have built on it since then, and expanded the celebration to more countries.

We are just now on our International tour 2021-2022 tour, which starts in Finland in September 2021. The previous tour visited 10 markets and concluded with an international final in May 2021.

We understand the ongoing difficulties in several countries but have decided to push on, to raise a glass to the teams and look forward when we can meet again again. Judging by the response from many sommeliers, at least we have contributed with some good news in a dark time. That is what we hope for!

Here is how it works:

ENTRIES

All venues that are listed by Star Wine List are automatically entered into the competition, free of charge. All other venues are also welcome to submit a wine list, free of charge, to our email address info@starwinelist.com . In fact, anyone is welcome to nominate a favourite venue. For our first UK event in 2021, we had more than 100 venues.
(Please note the local admission variations in the event posts for each local 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 sometimes add local categories where we have local partners/sponsors. In the UK this is for example Best Rhone list and Best California list. (We welcome new partners both internationally and locally, so if your country, region or brand wants to join the conversation and build relationships - please contact us at sales@starwinelist.com. )

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 Ruth Spivey (UK) and Edwin Raben (NL) in the past. The international jury is expanding with more judges.

CRITERIA / SCORING

The jury is asked to each independently rate their favorite wine lists in each category, while considering width, depth, originality and value. The combined scores give an average which is then used to decide finalists and winners. After having submitted the scores individually, the jury has a conference call to discuss the lists and arrive at a final decision. No external partner, sponsor or person has any influence on the jury decision.

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 Gold Star Certificate to post in 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). We reserve the right to verify contents of the wine list either live or through video call and the right to refuse any entries.

POSSIBLE BIAS

When a judge has some kind of influence over a list - the judge will not rate the list (if it's part of their group of restaurants 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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