2012 Grape Wall Challenge FAQ: Chinese consumers as judges, wines under rmb100

By Jim Boyce (中国)

The fourth annual Grape Wall Challenge will be held at restaurant F By Tribute in Beijing on December 12. A brief FAQ for the event.

What is Grape Wall Challenge?

GWC is an annual wine contest organized by contributors to the nonprofit blog Grape Wall of China. The judges are casual wine consumers from China. The wines retail for less than rmb100.

Why have consumers as judges?

Wine contests tend to be organized by trade people and judged by trade people. We want to see what consumers — the people who buy the wines — like and dislike.

We focus on “casual” wine consumers, that is, people who sometimes drink wine after work, sometimes buy a bottle to drink at home, and so on. We focus on Chinese consumers, since there is a shortage of practical information on what these buyers like and do not like.

Finally, consumers tend to find wine an overwhelming and mysterious topic. We think asking consumers to be judges will boost confidence.

Why use wines under rmb100?

Most wine bought in China costs less than rmb100 per bottle, but most wine contests focus on higher-priced wines. We want to see what casual consumers think about cheaper wines.

How are the wines judged?

We have two panels of judges: one for red wine and one for white wine. Each panel tastes 20 to 25 wines “blind” — they do not see the label until after they have finished tasting.

For each wine, judges choose one of the four following ratings: “I love it“, “I like it“, “I don’t like it” or “I hate it“. Thus, judges must make a decision as to whether they like or dislike each wine.

We encourage judges to write a description of each wine, even if it is one word such as “fruity“, “earthy“, “dry” or “sweet“.

How do you get the wines?

We ask importers / distributors to provide the wines. Each company may submit a maximum of four wines — two red, two white. If they submit two red wines, each wine should come from a different country. The same rule applies to white wines.

All wines should have a regular retail price of less than rmb100. We do not accept wines that are “on sale”.

Why does GWC matter?

We are unique in having casual wines consumers, from China, as judges. This gives us some insights into what they like and dislike.

We focus on wines under rmb100, which sell a lot by volume but do not get a lot of attention. We get insights which ones consumers like and do not like.

Also, most of the biggest importers and distributors in China provides wines. We assume these companies submit wines they think will win. Thus, we believe our contest has a small but important and representatives group of wines.

Finally, and arguably most important, we give consumers hands-on experience with wine. We believe this builds consumer confidence.

See also:

  • Posts from GWC 2011 at Modo here.
  • Posts from GWC 2010 at Maison Boulud here.
  • Posts from GWC 2009 at Maxim’s here.

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