Telegraph to Concours Mondial tasters: you're all rubbish


As the great and the good of the Mondo Vino head for Bruxelles to start three days of tasting for the Concours Mondial competition, now in its 20th year, the Telegraph runs a story on the tasting skills of “wine experts” and concludes their conclusions are all random.

 Telegraph to Concours Mondial tasters: you're all rubbish

The Telly reports the results of slipping duplicates into wine blind tasting competition. “Extraordinary as it was to have realised that 90 per cent of the judges didn’t appear to have any real consistency in their judgments, at least they’d narrowed down an anointed few who could. Well, that’s what [we] thought until he tracked their results the following year. It turned out they couldn’t maintain that performance. One year they might be really good, the next they were just in the middle of the group.”

At the Concours a duplicate wine is slipped into each panel each day and used to identify the 10% of judges who are consistent. So of course we all spend most of our time wondering if we’ve tasted the wine in the glass in front of us, earlier in the day.

It gets worse. 4000 wines were tracked across different shows. “Of all the ones that got a gold medal, virtually all got a ‘no award’ some place else. It turns out that the probability of getting a gold medal matches almost exactly what you’d expect from a completely random process.”

A healthy dose of humility handed out to Concours judges before the tournament begins. So what is the answer? The Telly concludes “if what you’re after is a nice bottle of wine, then, perhaps it’s best not to worry about the label or the critics or the medals. The most rational decision is the one judged on price. But, despite the work of the scientists, it still appears as if there’s very little rational behaviour to be found among wine lovers and makers.”

Which of course is exactly what we’re trying to do with our weekly RECM best value blind tastings. Perhaps the Concours Mondial should take a leaf out of the RECM investment guide.