All-woman judging panel a first

Several years ago I was invited to be a judge at a fledgling international wine competition. At its conclusion, I was asked for suggestions for the next year.

"Get some women as judges," I said. "Women make up a huge part of the wine consumers. Plus, they're known for having good palates and senses of smell."

In succeeding years, I've noticed a slight increase in the number of women judging in that event and other competitions, but it still is largely a man's world.

That's what makes the National Women's Wine Competition just concluded in Santa Rosa, CA, so interesting. All the judges were women.

One who has emerged as a spokesperson for increasing female involvement in wine competition and decision-making is Leslie Sbrocco (seen here), author of “Wine for Women.” She told the Associated Press she does not think there’s a “male” or “female” palate.

“It’s not about the female palate being different. It’s about the female perspective being different,” she said.

The competition had the slogan “Wine Women Want,” and had a category of entries from women winemakers, Overall, more than 1,800 entries came in. Organizers said they believe this was the first contest in the U.S. judged by an all-woman panel. An international competition to be judged by women is planned for next month in Monaco.

Co-chairs of the competition were Margrit Mondavi, long active in the California wine world and wife of legendary vintner Robert Mondavi, and Kathryn Hall, a Napa Valley vintner who once was U.S. ambassador to Austria.

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