Consumer Report?

I received this PR release today:

“In the July issue of Consumer Reports, CR testers found four Chardonnays they rated “very good,” all for less than $10. One of them was even from 7-Eleven!”

Two things struck me. First was what must these people have done wrong to be forced to do a tasting of under $10 Chardonnay. Second was the image of the Consumer Reports team applying the same methodology they use to rate cars and stereos to wine tasting. This could explain the results.

In other wine judging silliness, the much hyped “NextGen” wine competition made Steve Heimoff’s day by making themselves meaningless by selecting Barefoot Moscato as their best of show. This either means that no winery submitted any serious wine (a possibility) or that the judges only proved how pointless these judgings are - regardless of the age of the judges. This “competition” was particularly embarrassing as it begged for samples with daily email barrages right up until week of the judging itself. Good luck getting samples next year guys. You must be happy to know that, like the results of the Consumer Reports tasting, your name will be on shelf-talkers in 7-Elevens, Walgreens and gas stations throughout the United States.

If you wonder what such judgings are about you only have to look at the Next Gen tasting website:

  • “FREE Gold Medal Wines iPhone App Listing!
  • Gold+, Gold, and Silver Medal winners in the NextGen Wine Competition will receive a FREE basic listing on our exclusive Gold Medal Wines iPhone app, available on iPhone and iTouch.  (We are also writing the app for Blackberry and Droid).  NO OTHER WINE COMPETITION OFFERS THIS MARKETING ADVANTAGE!”

They are selling themselves to make a profit, judging the wines is only an brief inconvenience they have to deal with for a few days and hey, the judges are free. They get the wineries to buy in with their judging fees in the hopes of getting any kind of recognition. The wineries that enter carry as much shame as the people putting on the competition.

According to their website they had openings for 2500 wines. Let’s say all of them took advantage of the early entry “special” as listed below on their website. That’s $162,500. 


  • “Online Special Through April 15th $65 early entry special (paper entries add $10)
  • 4/15/2010-5/31/2010 $75 (paper entries add $10)
  • NextGen Wine Competition is proud to accept Visa and Mastercard for mail-in or fax-in entries. For online entries, PayPal accepts Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover.”


At least someone is making a few bucks out of these judgings. Too bad it’s not the people that actually make the wine.