Consumer Wine Awards seeks amateur judges in Sacramento area

A flight of wines prepares to be judged.
A flight of wines prepares to be judged. Sacramento Bee/ Lezlie Sterling

Wine competitions are generally geared for the pros, the serious looking sommeliers and winemakers who’ve dedicated their lives to the grape. But without people who actually buy wine, there wouldn’t be much need for these industry folks in the first place.

So, the Consumer Wine Awards is a much different kind of competition. Professionals aren’t allowed. The judges are everyday folks who simply love wine, an acknowledgment that every palate is valid and the wine industry could do well to better understand consumer preferences.

Applications are still being accepted to be an evaluator at the Consumer Wine Awards, which will be held April 11 at the McClellan Conference Center (5411 Luce Ave., Sacramento). Prospective evaluators will first take a test to determine their “vinotype,” or what types of wines and flavors they personally prefer. Consumer judges will then serve on panels which reflect their own personal taste.

The Consumer Wine Awards are headed by a team including Tim Hanni, an internationally renown wine expert who also popularized the flavor concept of “umami,” and G.M. “Pooch” Pucilowski, a longtime local wine educator and former chief judge of the California State Fair Commercial Wine Competition.

The winning wines can be sampled on June 6 at Grape Escape, the annual food and wine tasting held at Cesar Chavez Plaza. This competition has been held previously in Lodi, but makes its debut in Sacramento this year and partnered with the folks behind the city’s official “farm to fork” event programming.

Spots are filling up to be an evaluator, so click to the Consumer Wine Awards web site to apply for a spot.