View Full Version : Is Mead Judging Any Better?

Medsen Fey
09-03-2009, 07:50 PM
I was reading Dr. Vino's blog (http://www.drvino.com/2009/09/01/wine-competition-gold-medals-odds-good-chance/#comments) where he discusses an article published in Wine Economics (http://www.wine-economics.org/journal/content/Volume4/number1/Full%20Texts/1_wine%20economics_vol%204_1_Robert%20Hodgson.pdf) regarding the apparent lack of consistency in wine competitions. The data indicate that wines that win a gold medal in one competition are no more likely to win another competition than any other wine. The abstract reads:

An analysis of over 4000 wines entered in 13 U.S. wine competitions shows little concordance among the venues in awarding Gold medals. Of the 2,440 wines entered in more than three competitions, 47 percent received Gold medals, but 84 percent of these same wines also received no award in another competition. Thus, many wines that are viewed as extraordinarily good at some competitions are viewed as below average at others. An analysis of the number of Gold medals received in multiple competitions indicates that the probability of winning a Gold medal at one competition is stochastically independent of the probability of receiving a Gold at another competition, indicating that winning a Gold medal is greatly influenced by chance alone.
(JEL Classification: D02, Q19)

Clearly there are many factors that can affect the taste of wine (or mead) and most of us have witnessed the variability between bottles over time, but I thought that something that was really good would be recognized in more than one place. :confused:

So what's my take on this (like someone cares about my take)?

If you like the way your mead/wine/beer tastes then it is good.
If your wife likes it, then it's a winner! ;D

09-03-2009, 09:42 PM
I have only entered a few competitions and I have noticed that while some of my favorite batches tend to score well (over 33), they tend to vary, by region and judge quiet a bit. I would have to assume that with the number of mead contests expanding that the number of judges with experience has to be going up...

Medsen Fey
09-04-2009, 12:24 PM
1winedude (http://1winedude.com/index.php/2009/09/03/wine-competitions-vs-really-bad-science-or-the-journal-of-wine-economics-drops-the-cork-again/#more-1320) breaks down the poor quality of the aforementioned study.
I still stand by my take. :)

09-04-2009, 01:17 PM
1winedude misses the point. The reason for the inconsistency is irrelevant until someone decides something should be done about it. The fact that the inconsistency exists is the problem. It calls into question the utility of awards, as well as the concept that there is an objective standard for "good" (as opposed to not-too-bad) wine.

09-04-2009, 01:31 PM
IMHO, 1winedude has the point exactly. There isn't enough of a statistical sample to conclude anything at all about the consistency, or lack thereof, in these competitions.

But, although I help to run competitions myself, I have to agree that Medsen's approach is the one that matters most to me. :drunken_smilie:

Dan McFeeley
09-04-2009, 02:03 PM
Interesting article, and interesting response! Although you can dissect the article for flaws in the statistical analysis, you still can't get away from the basic fact that wine judging is a highly subjective, simply by its very nature.

A college English professor I had put it this way -- you can submit the same paper to different professors, and you're going to get different responses, and a different grade. That's just the way it is, grading essay papers is subjective.

I haven't entered very many competitions, but for the most part I was happy with the judging results, and there was a fair amount of consistency.

A side thought -- two excellent mead judges on these forums, Ken Schramm and Oskaar, are also expert wine judges. Can you be a good mead judge without having some expertise and/or experience in wine judging?

09-04-2009, 02:20 PM
I think that the point oft spoken, and reiterated in Hodgson's paper, is worthy of note: His analysis of the (sparse) statistics supports the conclusion that wine judges generally agree on what they don't like, but rarely reach consensus in what they do.

09-04-2009, 05:39 PM
A side thought -- two excellent mead judges on these forums, Ken Schramm and Oskaar, are also expert wine judges. Can you be a good mead judge without having some expertise and/or experience in wine judging?

I hope so, I don't really know much about wine because I tend to drink mostly mead, and some beer...

09-05-2009, 05:14 AM
Or you can look at competitions (Mead Judges or Wine Critics specifically) the same as you would any other endeavor, if you find ones that you agree with consistently... enter and trust those competitions. You wouldn't keep sending your car to a mechanic you don't agree with.