judging process

Winning a coveted SFIWC medal is no easy feat. Medal winners are chosen through a rigorous judging process—a highly controlled operation held over three days of precise blind tastings.


During the first round of tastings, each wine is judged on its own merits, within the context of its own class. Judging panels are provided with information on varietal and vintage, but otherwise receive no information that might bias their decisions. Judging is based on a consensual procedure whereby specialized judging panels confer to determine which entries are worthy of Bronze, Silver, or Gold medals. If all judges on a panel unanimously agree that a wine merits a Gold medal, it receives a Double Gold award.



Winning an SFIWC Medal is an impressive achievement - but what does each medal mean?

  • Bronze Medal: A commercially sound wine that is modestly attractive and free from significant flaws; among the better examples of its category.

  • Silver Medal: An outstanding wine that shows refinement, finesse, and complexity; among the best examples of its particular category.

  • Gold Medal: An exceptional wine that is near the pinnacle of achievement in its category; sets the standard for all other wines of its type.

  • Double Gold Medal: Awarded to the very few entries that receive Gold medal ratings by all members of the judging panel; among the finest wines in the world.



On the final day of the Competition, select Double Gold wines advance to the Sweepstakes round. Here, all Competition judges deliberate to determine the winners of Premium Awards:

  • Best of Class Awards are bestowed on the best example of each wine varietal.

  • Best in Show Awards are the highest honors in the Competition. Chosen from among the Best of Class winners, these awards highlight the best wine in each of the four broadest categories: White, Red, Sparkling, and Dessert Wine. Best of Nation awards give special recognition to the top wineries in their countries of origin.

  • The Tasting Panel Magazine Winery of the Year Award

  • Portfolio of the Year Award

  • The AndrĂ© Tchelistcheff Winemaker of the Year Award: Name for the legendary winemaker, our Winemaker of the Year award is bestowed on the individual with the most impressive portfolio of wine entries.