It is county fair time and that can mean only one thing: competition!
In the Midwest, during fair season, you are sure to find deep fried foods whose odoriferous melodies tease us like the Sirens ancient mariners once wrote about. These vendors fight to rise to top of their greasy, pseudo-food world to claim high honors. Indeed, around every corner you'll find a competition: hog farmers strutting their little piggies in front of knowledgeable pig-judgers; while in the horticultural building you are likely to spy a local grower putting up his best green tomato silently wishing for a blue ribbon; and if you are lucky enough you are sure to observe a neighbor kid squawking out an olde-timey song confident of her skills and nervously holding her breath as the results come in.
Yes, we are competitive by nature and during this time of year everyone can get into the game, including amateur winemakers!
Unlike more organized competitions, such as baseball, with incremental contests to weed-out the lesser skilled teams, those of us who compete in amateur wine competitions can start off by entering a local, regional, state or international wine competition right from scratch. That means there are some very, very good wines and some very, very poor wines. Unlike more organized competitions, with highly skilled referees, many wine competitions judging process is...shall we say, less than rigorous.
Some of us compete in hopes of a little ego-boost, while others compete to support the local competition, some pray to win a ribbon or trophy, and others to improve their winemaking skills. The fact is, as with many competitions, its not the award that really matters, because you're as likely to win this competition and not even place in the other (with the same wine). What matters is we engage, have fun, and hopefully learn something new from the experience.
Of course at our Eastern Iowa Amateur Wine Competition, like my wine making friends, I hope to win a ribbon or two and maybe...just maybe win the battle for a Double Gold medal!
If you want to see a wine competition in action, visit us on Thursday, July 23 (1-5 pm) at the Benton County Fairgrounds in beautiful Vinton, Iowa. Better yet, stop by the same night at 6:30pm to taste and judge the wines for yourself!