The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

New Zealand’s Next Top Wine Judge

(l-r) Kristy Marsden and Nichkan Sayasith as Associate Judges at the New World Wine Awards.

New Zealand’s next generation of wine judges are being brought up the ranks through a new scholarship offered by the New World Wine Awards.

New World has partnered with Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT), to offer two top Viticulture and Winemaking students the opportunity to be selected as Associate Judges in the New World Wine Awards each year.

Jim Harré, Chair of Judges for the awards for the past 12 years, says the opportunity will provide a fantastic, but very demanding, learning opportunity for the budding wine experts.

“Tasting beautiful wines all day sounds like the best job in the world – but it’s challenging work when you are set to assess up to 120 glasses each day, over three full days of judging,” he says.

The new associates will spend their time tasting and learning alongside 17 senior judges, who together bring more than 200 years of combined experience to the table. They include international judge Nick Bulleid MW from Australia, and top judges from around New Zealand’s wine industry, including wine experts, winemakers and even wine scientists.

The New World Wine Awards programme already includes the unique opportunity for New World team members to be selected as Associate Judges, upskilling their wine knowledge to share with customers and staff.

Harré says the awards’ collaborative approach to judging, where experts taste the wines and then discuss and score them in consultation, is an ideal way for new talent to learn the ropes and broaden their palates.

“And to make it even more interesting – we judge all wines blind, only seeing the wine in the glass alongside the varietal, vintage and country of origin.”

During judging, the students will join in using the internationally recognised 100-point scale, although their trainee-status means their scores won’t count towards the final medal results. The best wines will then be tasted, and re-tasted, by the senior panel to identify the Top 50 wines as well as Champion wines for the show.

“It will be a real perk for the student to then discover which wines actually made it through to the Top 50, when the winning wines go on sale in New World stores around the country later this year.”

Pam Wood, Programme Lead Specialist – Viticulture and Winemaking – says NMIT is thrilled to be able to partner with New World for the New World Wine Awards.

“NMIT is committed to delivering a qualification that produces work-ready graduates, who are well connected to the Viticulture and Winemaking industry and are able to apply their theoretical knowledge to their work,” she says.

“Being in the heart of New Zealand’s wine country, and with relationships such as this which put our students in touch with experts from across New Zealand and the world, NMIT is the perfect position to enable this industry-linked learning.”