Wine Contest!

I hosted a wine contest last night. Thirteen people came, and each brought

two bottles of wine. We all tasted one of the bottles, while the other bottle

was put into a prize pool. (Hat tip to Gothamist

for the idea.) Every person scored every wine on a scale from 1 to 20, and then

the scores were aggregated. For this contest, we decided to taste red wines

retailing for between $15 and $40. Here are the results:

Wine Total score Price
Clos

del Rey, Languedoc, France, 2002

183 $34
Marion,

Cabernet Sauvignon, Veneto, Italy, 1999

180.5 $40
Priorat, Embruix,

Vall Llach, Spain, 2003

162 $27
Domaine de Bonserine, Côte Brune, Côte Rotie, France, 2000 159 $28
Caro, Cabernet/Malbec, Argentina,

2001

157 $37
Bonny Doon Old Telegram Mourvedre,

Contra Costa County, California, 2001

152* $25
Castello di Modanella, Campo

d’Aia, Sangiovese, Tuscany, Italy, 1998

136* $23
Chiaramonte

Nero D’Avola, Sicily, Italy, 2002

135 $19
Domaine Maria Fita, Fitou, Languedoc, France, 2002 134.5 $24
Prunotto, Fiulot,

Barbera D’Asti, Piedmont, Italy, 2003

133.5 $17
Capçanes Mas

Donís, Montsant, Spain, 2003

129 $14
Robert Sinskey, Los

Carneros, Pinot Noir, Napa, California, 2003

125 $34
Maria Fita, Le Schmitou, Vallée du Paradis, France, 2002 84 $21

*The scores with an asterisk are the two wines from people who took the game

a little too seriously, who recognised their own wines and gave them their highest

score just so that they would have a better chance of winning. Of course, neither

won. The full results, in Excel format, can be downloaded here.

If you plug the scores and prices into a correlation

calculator, you get a result of +0.61, which I have to admit is higher than

I thought it would be. Here’s a scatter chart so that you can see the results

visually:

There was one wine which everybody hated – the Le Schmitou. Interestingly,

it’s a Fitou from Maria Fita’s Eric Schmitt, just like the Maria Fita Fitou

which came in at a much more respectable 9th place. The difference is where

in France the wine comes from – the location seems to make an enormous

difference, since the Languedoc was quite dark and bitter, while the wine from

the Vallée du Paradis, near the Spanish border, was far too sweet for

anybody’s taste.

Beyond that, it seems that there was a large number of more-or-less average

wines, getting between 125 and 136 points, and ranging from $14 to $34 a bottle.

To no one’s great surprise, the really overpriced wine – worse and more

expensive than most of the rest – came from California: the Robert Sinskey

Pinot Noir.

The top two wines were both reasonably expensive. The winner was by far my

favourite wine of the lot (I gave it 17 points, while my second-favourite got

12), and I was happy to see Luke walk away with his choice of the prize pool.

That included my wine, the Caro, which I was very disappointed I didn’t rate

more highly.

The party itself was a huge success, lots of fun, and we’ll definitely do it

again. But I did learn a couple of lessons. Firstly, when you’re tasting a lot

of wines in succession, on their own and not in the context of a meal, it’s

hard to really appreciate them all. Secondly, the wines which we were rating

average, and giving 10 points or so to, were all much more expensive than the

wines we normally drink, and we would probably love them in most everyday contexts.

So these results should probably not be taken too seriously. But I think I might

try and track down a couple of bottles of that Clos del Rey all the same.

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15 Responses to Wine Contest!

  1. tim says:

    sound like much fun. invite your readers next time. ;-) at least, let us know where to buy the clos de rey. sherry lehmann?

  2. I am proud to say that I rated my wine a 14. I stand by my $19 bottle of Chiaramonte. Although it came in No. 8, no one had horrible things to say about it – not only was in unoffensive, it had zip. Highly recommend it and the Marion, which was recommended by my wine seller. Too bad I didn’t grab it, but I was interested in trying to win with something cheaper. Both bottles of this wine can be bought at: http://www.de-vino.com

  3. Felix says:

    Geoff asked me about the wines with the highest score per dollar. The winner on that front, by some margin, is the Mas DonÌs, the cheapest wine in the contest. Second is the Fiulot, closely followed by the Chiaramonte. The loser, of course, is the Los Carneros, from Napa.

  4. Roberto says:

    Felix, I recommend two Italian wines for the next contest: Cannonau of Jerzu (pron.: ierzu)(Sardinia) is a very bodily red with a distinctively rounded taste. Very strong, its aftertaste lingers for a good while, so it is ideal for sipping with friends, or with game, lamb or pork. The other one is Amarone from the Valpolicella valley, near Verona, a red, strong wine rich in tannins to drink with red meat. “La Ripassa”, a particular type of Amarone, is a Valpolicella Superiore, another, somewhat lighter, ruby-coloured red wine filtered through the Amarone grapes after they are pressed. This confers the Valpolicella Superiore a unique bitterish aftertaste. A producer I recommend is “Zenato”. Somewhere nice to go to for a nice wine-tasting session and meal is indeed “La Bottega dei Vini” 7 E. 59th St., New York, NY 10022 ph. 212-223-3028. It’s quite pricey, but well worth a visit.

  5. Charles says:

    Somebody needs to read Dierdre McKlosky on statistical significance. If you take all of the individual scores (rather than the averages, which aren’t really of interest), it is true that the higher-priced wines were scored more highly at a high level of significance (a t-stat of over four). But (here comes Dierdre) it is also worth noting that the R-Squared is only 0.11, suggesting that you can only explain 11 percent of the variation in personal preference by variation in price. This suggests that buying expensive in hopes of liking the resulting wine is a pretty useless strategy to follow.

    The results suggest Matt is easy to please (high average scores) while Simon and Matthew are highly opinionated (high standard deviations). Which is yet another demmonstration that statistical analysis teaches you nothing, because Matthew is anything but opinionated.

  6. geoff says:

    i don’t know about all the t-stat and r-squared of Deirdre et al. nor do i even know what it means.

    i do know that the scores were not averages but sum totals, for however that affects things.

    i would be interested to see another chart that has everyone’s individual score per bottle vs. price.

    felix- any interest in posting the full 169 point scatter diagram?

  7. Felix says:

    geoff, it’s all there in the excel spreadsheet i linked to. which I think is what charles was using to get his r-squared etc.

  8. geoff says:

    and so you did.

    it still looks to me that there is a positively sloping line to be drawn through the points.

    it’s a much more amorphous cloud… but it does seem to have a trend.

    more interesting though would be the point that you raise felix, wine out of context is just not as enjoyable- period.

    perhaps more research is required. something like taking an ‘average’ bottle and trying it out with a good lamb dinner, then fish, then at a table with people you like, then hate, in a hot room, a loud room, on a boat… get synaesthetic with it.

    didn’t someone already right the guidelines for such an event? i think we need a goat, a boat, a fox a box, a train, some rain and someone named sam.

  9. Felix S. says:

    Roberto, FYI a Ripasso is not a type of Amarone, it is a Valpolicella. Your description of the pressing after Amarone is correct. Look for Ripasso from Le Salette $15 – $20.

  10. Jonathan says:

    Felix,

    I must agree with the above comment about the wine from Verona.

    We absolutely loved Verona when we were there. It’s no wonder the wine is so good. It’s made by happy people!

    We have thought about having an apartment there, mostly for the wine. Have you ever been?

    If not, you have to go, to drink the wine where it’s made.

    If you’re interested in seeing our pictures of Verona they’re here:

    http://www.carrieandjonathan.com/verona-our-wonderful-day-in-verona.html

    Looking forward to reading more on your blog here!

    Warmest,

    Jonathan and Carrie

  11. Jonathan says:

    Felix,

    I must agree with the above comment about the wine from Verona.

    We absolutely loved Verona when we were there. It’s no wonder the wine is so good. It’s made by happy people!

    We have thought about having an apartment there, mostly for the wine. Have you ever been?

    If not, you have to go, to drink the wine where it’s made.

    If you’re interested in seeing our pictures of Verona they’re here:

    Looking forward to reading more on your blog here!

    Warmest,

    Jonathan and Carrie

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