Bringing Home the Gold


We like sports. We like watching sports. We even like playing some sports. We really like drinking wine after sports. (Or during sports if we’re only watching.)

Competition can be fun.

Turns out, competition can be really fun.

Behold, the World Wine Tasting Championship, an event we only recently discovered but of which we have become instant fans. True, technically, there’s no sport per say, since the most athletic part is probably lifting a glass, though it does involve competition so perhaps it does qualify as sport.

This year’s upcoming match (is it a match?) will take place in Languedoc, France in October, with the usual suspects in attendance, and a few you may not expect. This will be only the fourth appearance for the U.S. team which is looking to improve its performance yet again. The American team finished in last place in its first championship but brought home a solid third place finish in the last competition, beating out such traditional powerhouses as Spain, Argentina and Italy. (China pulled out the major upset, defeating France by two points to take home the title.)

Best of all, this is a sport that is still open to amateurs. The last American team had only one member with any formal training in wine tasting. All that’s required is a love of wine and a good palate. Oh, and an encyclopedic knowledge of wines. It’s not enough to sip a wine and say, “What a lovely Pinot Noir.” Competitors must be able to identify the grape, the vintage, the region and country of origin, and the producer.

As you might have guessed, not all wines used at the World Championships are easy to come by. Or the grape may be easy to identify, but not necessarily the region or country. Consider some of the selections from the 2016 competition:

  • A 2015 Viognier from Lebanon
  • A 2015 Swartland Chenin from South Africa
  • A 2014 Petit Menseng from France

If you can successfully identify these wines, you should definitely consider trying out for the team. Registration is still open for the U.S. Championships, which will be held August 11 at the Marina Del Rey Hotel in California. Online registration for this event is available at for anyone who wants to test their skills and win a place on the team. For those who would prefer to sit (and sip) and watch, there are also tickets available as a tasting spectator. All the wine, none of the pressure.

Could there be a better sport?

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