Decanter has announced that this year it will be processing some categories of its Wine Awards in Rwanda.
Lowly categories, such as Carmenère, Pinotage, and ‘anything made by hipsters’ will be held in Rwanda for processing by teams of WSET Level 1 students. Only the most deserving bottles will be allowed through to enter the main competition.
Critics have said the move is a ‘disgraceful breach of the right of every bottle of wine to be judged on its merits’ and accused the competition of ‘closing its Bordeaux’.
But the organisers say the move is a ‘necessary reaction’ to the increasing numbers of undeserving cheap wines seeking to enter the competition.
‘We accept that it’s controversial,’ said DWWA head, Priti Brittel. ‘But this is not about keeping bottles out – it’s about safety.
‘Specifically, the safety of our judges, for whom a whole psychosis-inducing day spent tasting Chilean Sauvignon Blanc could land us with a massive insurance claim.’
Entry numbers have been growing at double digit rates for over a decade and Decanter says that its teams of expert tasters have frequently been ‘overwhelmed’ by the numbers of cheap and nasty bottles desperately trying to enter the competition.
‘Tens of thousands of these bottles make the journey across the Channel every year,’ said Brittel. ‘And in many cases they have zero chance of becoming productive members of any drinks range.
‘So we think we’re doing them a huge favour if they don’t undertake something which is futile and dangerous to their self-esteem.’
The organisers have said the competition is keen to avoid a situation like last year, when a flight carrying 25 bottles of generic Prosecco sank without trace.
‘They just totally disappeared,’ said one judge, blinking back tears.
‘Not a single medal between them. It was as if they never existed.’
Decanter Border Force has said that the situation is being exacerbated by vile and unscrupulous ‘marketing gangs’ who are happy to enter sub-standard bottles in the hope of getting a medal from jaded judges who just want to go home.
‘The bottles are just innocent pawns in a cynical game,’ said Decanter Border Force official, Jimmy Numpty.
‘Namely, boring everyone witless with press releases when the results come out.’
Human rights groups however, denounced the decision, saying that all wines should be judged the same, regardless of colour or marketing spend.
‘These bottles are coming here for a better life,’ said Hugh Mann-Wrights of Canterbury Cathedral Cellars. ‘And often they’re attempting to escape appalling conditions.
‘I mean, if being sold by Asda with a bronze sticker is a step up, you get some idea of just how desperate things are back home.’