Do empty pockets influence the outcome of wine competitions?

This is a question that has been on my mind a lot lately.

Times are tight and, as consumers, we are all looking for bang for our bucks. You only have to look at the Cape Town property market to know that people are on the hunt for great deals. Properties that would once have been snapped up in the blink of an eye are now spending time on the market, very different to the situation five years ago.

What I have noticed is that the style of wines, specifically white wines, that seem to be in the spotlight at awards are very lightly oaked; more of a hint, or a smattering, than a full-bodied well-rounded mouth feel experience ... the type of experience that good oak really lends to a white wine.

Is this because tastes have changed? Or is it because the general consumer's pockets are not as full as they once were? The fact is that lightly-wooded white wines costs far less to produce, and therefore far less to buy, than white wines with heavier wood.

I think it’s naïve for us to assume that most wine competitions operate with no consideration for world, the economy and the situation consumers presently find themselves in. It would be silly of them because ultimately competitions are there to help the consumer. We see something shiny on a bottle and we assume it is good. After all the judges, the people that really know things about wine, have judged it so.

In times where there aren't bucks to spend it makes sense that wines that are more affordable because they are, among other things, less heavily wooded are walking off with most of the top honours.

It's nice to think that the local wine industry, from an awards perspective, is actually concerned with end consumers and the factors that play an important role in their day-to-day life. Well it's nice for the consumer and those who produce white wines that only have a hint of wood.