The NV Barefoot Moscato retails for about $6.99. It recently took Best in Show, defeating over 700 other wines for that honor. When that achievement was initially announced, there was some embarassment over the choice, and since the announcement, little has been written about the competition and the reasons behind this choice.
The NextGen Wine Competition was held this past June, with the judges all being Millennial wine professionals. Lea Pierce, Founder and Managing Director of Wine Competition Management, LLC. stated, “The purpose of the NextGen Wine Competition for Millennial Wine Drinkers is to give young wine drinkers a very public forum for declaring their tastes.” The list of the winning wines contains 24 Gold, 177 Silver, 308 Bronze, 13 Double Gold, and 8 Best of Class Medals.
Do these winners reflect the tastes of the average Millennial? Or do they more reflect the taste of Millennials who are involved in the wine trade in one manner or another? Is there a difference between the tastes of the judges and the average Millennial? Similar questions would be applicable for wine professionals of any age category. Are the tastes of wine judges different from the average consumer?
Let us consider the top winners of the competition, the 8 Best in Class. Out of that group, 7 were California wines and 1 was from the Finger Lakes of New York. Does that mean Millennials generally prefer the style of California wines over Old World wines? Or was the competition somehow skewed in favor of California wines?
The Barefoot Cellars Moscato was the Best of Show, and the Barefoot Rose Cuvee was also one of the Best in Class. Why were these wines so special, defeating over 700 other wines? Many others consider them mass-produced, commercial plonk, maybe pleasant for a simple, inexpensive sparkling wine, but not "best of show" quality.
What is everyone missing? Or was it more a matter of the mechanics of the competition, such as too many wines to be tasted in too short a time? Did the Barefoot stand out because it was blatantly different, maybe sweeter, from the hundreds of other wines being tasted so close together? And why haven't the Millennial judges come forward to write about and explain their choice?
If we consider the next level below the Best in Class, the 13 Double Golds, we see a slight bit more diversity. There were only 7 wines from California, 5 from elsewhere in the U.S., and only 1 wine from outside the U.S., which was from Argentina. This seems to further support the belief that Millennials have a tendency toward American wines and not Old World ones. It is also interesting to note that one of the Double Golds was for a non-grape wine, the NV Maize Valley Red Raspberry Wine from Ohio.
Can we learn anything about Millennials from the results of this wine competition? Was it truly representative of the taste of the average Millennial? If not, then why not? And how could matters be changed to better reflect their tastes? Can we learn anything about wine competitions in general from this example? Was the competition run well, or were there problems that need to be corected for future contests?
Should we all be stocking up on Barefoot Moscato?