$2.70 Supermarket Wine Wins Gold Medal at International Wine Contest

Have you ever wondered how the average person chooses wine at a supermarket? It turns out that having one or more medals plastered on the bottle can increase sales by up to 15%, so it’s no wonder that wineries take wine-tasting competitions very seriously. So, does winning a medal actually reflect the quality of the wine, or are these contests simply money-making events that charge winemakers hefty sums for participating and the chance to increase sales? Eric Boschman — once named Belgium’s best sommelier — and the team at Belgian consumer magazine On n’est pas des pigeons (We Are Not Pigeons), decided to find out by taking the worst supermarket wine they could find and registering it in a prestigious wine competition. There were plenty of wines under $4 to choose from, but they decided to go with the cheapest and worst-tasting one they could fine — a $2.70 bottle that they disguised with a eye-catching premium label and naming it “Chateau Colombier.” The magazine chose the prestigious Gilbert et Gaillard competition and paid the $55 entrance fee, sent in samples for tasting, and provided laboratory data confirming alcohol content and sugar levels. Fortunately, the lab data squeaked by because organizers rarely double-check winemakers’ data because they would have to pay for the test. In the end, the prank worked like a charm. The $2.70 wine won the gold medal, with the judges describing it as “suave, nervous (a quality of fresh wine) and rich palate with clean young scents that promise a nice complexity, very interesting.” Along with the announcement, organizers also notified the winners that they could buy 1,000 gold stickers to display on their wine labels for just $65. The magazine revealed the prank, warning consumers that not all wine gold medals are created equal. No word on what the Gilbert et Gaillard judges had to say.