A reader asked how she can become a wine judge. I e-mailed her a reply that I subsequently realized was too brief and not very helpful.
Her question re-emerged in my mind as I judged at the recent California State Fair wine competition, but with an addendum: Why would anyone want to be a wine judge?
Sure, it sounds like a whole lot of fun, and it is. You get to taste dozens of wines you probably never would have a chance to taste otherwise. Chances are pretty good that you will be on a panel with a commercial winemaker or an enology instructor. They almost always are generous with their insights, pointing out why this or that wine tastes like it does, helping you learn to watch for those attributes as you continue to evaluate.
But if you like to savor and study wine, a judging isn't the place to do it. The pace is brisk compared with a dinner where you are able to appreciate three or four wines at leisure. Your fellow panelists might be generous with their opinions, but they also might not be patient if you dawdle. After all, you'll likely be expected to get through 100 or so wines within a few hours.
He goes on to list some of the pluses and minuses.
Comments from you judges, judge-wannabes, and not-in-a-million-years-would-I-judges???