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Ask Dr. Vinny

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I’m new to wine so I still have a lot to learn. What are the most important awards for wine?

—Sonia, Italy

Dear Sonia,

We all started out as beginners!

The most important award a wine can receive is from you—when you decide you like it! No two people will agree on every wine, and it’s important for you to trust your own palate, to like the wines you like unapologetically. That said, once you get a sense of what you prefer, I hope you’ll continue to explore the large world of wine and allow your tastes to develop and evolve. Mine sure have expanded.

It can be useful to get advice from other people when learning about wine. I think it’s important to find a retailer to work with who can help you understand what you like and what other wines you might like, too. Also, you might find a wine publication, website or some handy wine apps that can help you in your wine-buying decisions.

If by “awards” you are referring to medals from wine competitions, well, there are many wine competitions out there in the world. If you’re going to use their results as a guide, you should learn a little bit about how they arrive at their results. Who are the judges? How are the tastings structured? How are the competitors determined?

We review wines in blind tastings here at Wine Spectator, and I’m partial to this methodology, which gives every wine an equal shot at a good score, no matter who the producer is or how much the bottle costs.

My advice is to use awards, ratings and others’ advice as guides, but trust your own palate as you explore the big world of wine that awaits you.

—Dr. Vinny

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