When will the judging take place and when will the results be announced?
We will judge on April 1 2020 and will announce the winners at the London Wine Fair in May.
When is the deadline for entries?
March 20 2020. Please make sure your wines have arrived with Sensible Wine Services by this date, and that you have emailed your entry forms to us. Cleared payment must be received before judging day. Full details below.
The wine I want to enter is also on sale in some on-trade accounts. Can it still be entered?
Yes. We appreciate that many wines aimed at the independent market are also sold to on-trade customers. But we are not interested in wines that are distributed in major on-trade accounts (eg national pub chains) any more than we are interested in supermarket wines.
I’d like to enter a wine which may soon have UK distribution, but doesn’t just yet. Is that OK?
Yes, these will be judged as part of our Breakthrough Wines category, which has been created purely for wines not already on sale in the UK but which are hoping for distribution in the independent trade. There is a separate entry form for such wines.
I’d like to take part in the judging. How do I apply?
If you’re a UK-based independent wine merchant, with a shop, you are very welcome to apply to be a judge. Please send your details to email@example.com and we’ll give you more details about how to get involved.
Is the competition open to sparkling and fortified wines?
Yes, these wines are very welcome.
I’m an independent wine merchant and import a small amount of wines for my own business. Can these wines enter the competition?
Yes. Even if the wines are only on sale in one shop, they can still be entered into The Wine Merchant Top 100.
Can I pay by credit card to enter?
Sadly, we’re not currently able to take credit cards. Once your entry form has been received and approved, we’ll issue an invoice and you can either pay by cheque or electronic payment.
When should I send the wines, and where do they need to go?
We can accept entries straight away. Once you’ve completed the entry form, and emailed it to us, we’ll send you an address label that must be used on your entry. (If you don’t use the label there’s a chance that your entries may be overlooked in the busy warehouse.) We can only accept entry forms electronically so please don’t tuck a print-out inside the box.
How many wines must I send?
Four bottles for each entry are required. (In the Breakthrough Wines category, for wines unrepresented in the UK, two bottles are sufficient.)
What happens if I win?
We’ll send you the marketing material you need to maximise the benefit of being a winner, including logos that can be used in marketing material or on stickers. You will also be invited to send extra samples for the London Wine Fair tasting (though we’ll also take along any unopened bottles from your original entry).
Wines that win in the Breakthrough Wines category will not feature in the main Top 100 list but will be included in the winners’ supplement and all entrants will receive feedback on their wines flavour, pricing and packaging.
I have some wines that are very subtle in flavour. Won’t the judges overlook these wines in favour of wines that are more aggressively flavoured?
We appreciate that this is an occupational hazard of most wine competitions, which is why our judges are briefed to be on the alert for wines that may, on first taste, seem rather austere or uninteresting. We fully appreciate that such wines often come into their own with food, and need some extra sensitivity from the judges. By employing the services of independent retailers who are quite used to dealing in wines of this nature, we believe we significantly reduce the risk of delicately flavoured wines being automatically marked down.
What happens to the bottles left over from the judging?
All the winning wines are taken to the London Wine Fair. Spare bottles of entries that miss the cut are mostly used to raise money for good causes – the main beneficiary in 2017, 2018 and 2019 was the Children With Cancer Fund, which provides an invaluable service for young cancer patients and their families.
Some very good wines just miss out on the Top 100 and we often retaste these after the judging and review them in The Wine Merchant’s Tried & Tested section.