The World Wine Championships are an ongoing annual competition between commercial wineries. The competition began in 1981 with the founding of the Beverage Testing Institute, an independent company that specializes in judging alcoholic beverages and publishing reviews of said beverages. (See also the World Beer Championships.)
The World Wine Championships take place over the course of a year in the Beverage Tasting Institute's headquarters in Chicago, where experienced wine specialists spend time almost every weekday morning (because taste is more acute in the morning) tasting and scoring various types of wine.
Judges initially award wines with a four-point score. Wines that receive a score of 4 are sent to a "merit round," where they are further evaluated; wines with low scores are recycled into wood varnish and/or Molotov cocktails.
The scoring system for the World Wine Championships' first round is as follows:
1 Not recommended.
2 Of sound commercial quality, though not overly exciting.
3 Shows style and character, yet probably not of the highest merit.
4 Highest quality.
The scoring system for the World Wine Championships' "merit round" round is as follows:
3 Very good, but not of the highest merit.
4 Truly excellent in style and distinction.
5 Outstanding, though not quite one of the world's finest.
6 Provides a world-class experience.
After the merit round, scores are converted to a 100-point scale for publication. All wines receiving a score of 90 points or higher are tasted at least twice without exception, says the BTI website (www.tastings.com), "virtually guaranteeing that they will deserve their accolades." Wines with wide disparities in scores are also re-tasted to ensure that the scoring is as accurate and precise as possible.
Based on their score, each wine is placed into one of five "bands," which the BTI refers to as its five star system:
85-89 Highly Recommended
less than 80 Not Recommended
Along with their band/star designation, wines may also receive further recognition from the Beverage Tasting Institute. Wines are indicated as Best Buys if they "provide uncommon value." The BTI also labels some wines Cellar Suggestions; these are wines that the Institute believes will improve significantly after five or so years of age.