Why award-winning wines may be deceiving your tastebuds

wine 05/09/2018

Supermarkets are filled with award-winning wines, no matter what price point you're looking.

But if your selection for a bottle of red or white is swayed based off a gold sticker award or two, you may be surprised to know that these stickers may not be trustworthy. In fact, you may be swayed into buying something that isn't a top product after all.

Head of marketing at University of Auckland Dr Bobo Lang says the stickers help busy shoppers make choices quickly.

Nearly every bottle has a sticker these days, and while some are award-winning, the impersonators are more about marketing than good wine.

"For example, at a huge wine show in the UK called Decanter there was 16,000 wines entered, and of these 16,000 wines entered, 70 percent won awards," says Dr Lang to The Project.

Owner of The Grove and wine guru Michael Dearth says there are five tips to buying the right wine.

"Ignore the award stickers," he says. "The little guys in this industry are just as good as these big companies that can afford to fly people around for these wine judging contests. Go for the little guys."

The second tip, "Don't buy sauvignon blanc or pinot noir."

These wines have put New Zealand on the map, but he says there is much more out there. 

Thirdly, spending $3 makes all the difference.

"If you're going to spend $10 just spend $13."

He also recommends staying away from stupid names because it's just a gag.

And finally, "Go off the list; ask the restaurant you're at for wine off-list. A lot of times at a restaurant they will have wines from the wine list left that they've kept from old wine lists. Have courage to say, 'Do you have anything off-list that's tasty?' because they will be trying to move stock."

In the end, the best recommendations come from independent experts who have tried the wine before you go to buy it - because most places frown on you popping open a bottle right there in the store.