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 four 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.


  • Double Gold: Outstanding; earning top marks from all judges
  • Gold: An excellent wine, meeting very high standards.
  • Silver: A finely crafted wine, well above average.
  • Bronze: A well-crafted wine that deserves recognition.

Winning a SFIWC medal is indeed an impressive achievement for any wine having undergone evaluation by our highly discerning judges.



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 are four broadest wine categories: Best in Show White, Best in Show Red, Best in Show Sparkling, Best in Show 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.
  • 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.