Wine Judging at Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo

img_4818Because sometimes wine is a loose term!!

I used a photo from the delivery carts with the word wine painted on it… because looking at the green glass, the one that looks like anti-freeze… you might not be sure!!

Wine isn’t always vitis vinifera!!  Last weekend I had the extra-ordinary opportunity to try seventeen (17!!) fruit based wines.  I say extra-ordinary because that denotes rare and unusual.  And I am hoping I don’t revisit these anytime soon!!  But I am grateful to have had the experience!  The wines on cart  (above) are fruit based wines.  Even fruit might be a loose term because the green one had definite flavors of jalapeno.   We all worked hard to find a winner amongst those we tasted and we were intrigued by the one that tasted like cake.  Pound cake or white sheet cake with amaretto frosting.  Hard to say.  But cake… as opposed to fruit cake.

In addition to these beauties, our panel judged a flight of Mead (5) and a flight of flavored Meads (7).  Mead is a fermented beverage… I just can’t bring myself to say wine… made with at least 50% honey.  It can have flavors of clove and cinnamon and I think those are the better ones.  You start adding some other flavors and, to me, they just taste weird!!   Of course, I still can’t comprehend the flavor of banana in beer.

img_4821 In addition to these very unique “wines”, we also tasted flights of Zinfandel (47), Viognier (12), and Unwooded Sauvignon Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc based blends (41), New World Temprnillo and blends (13), Sparkling Red (2) and Very Sweet White (8) wines.  I am officially done with sweet wines until after the 2017 holidays.

The judging of these wines is done on an all volunteer basis. The wines are double blinded by having separate teams of volunteers that pour, volunteers that deliver the wines on carts, and volunteer judges that taste. There are fun, yet very professional, volunteers to help with tabulating scoring, running information and food,  glass washing and polishing, pulling wines from the warehouse, driving forklifts, working with the wineries on entries, and I know I am leaving a ton  of groups out.  img_4803All these efforts help determine who wins Gold, Double Gold, Class Champions, etc. from a pool of 2,850 wines.  Many of the winning wines are served in the Wine Garden at the official Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo (HLSR).  A wine auction is also held as part of the fundraising process.  I am not on a rodeo committee, so I do not know all the ins and outs of the planning and execution.  What I do know:   HLSR is an impressive labor of love to promote agriculture and raise money for education via scholarships for Texas youth.  I do know that I am excited about participating in this process, even on a small level.  All of this makes every wine I taste while judging, a wine deserving of responsible contemplation…. even if it is green.








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