A delightfully charming city with varied mix of architectural styles – Barroque, Gothic, Victorian, Art Deco, the “People’s Choice Wine Awards” took place at the perfect choice of city, Manchester, as the venue for Tasting and Judgement of People’s Wines in October 2018. My original thoughts about Manchester being an industrial city were completely wiped off seeing the style of buildings (both new and traditional blended into one city) and the creative network of travel infrastructure of trams and buses that make it easy to navigate around the city. To top it, the mix of people and places (venues such as the China Town of Manchester!) makes it truly a diverse city. Just walking a couple of kilometres, I seemed to have passed by several cultures and timelines that makes this bustling yet peaceful city, quite an impressionable one indeed!

A charming oriental entrance to China Tower, a kilometre away from St Peter’s Square shows the diversity of cultures in Manchester (Image: Sumi Sarma)
An English Heritage, Manchester’s Town Hall stands behind the St Peter’s Square – built to build the gap between Neo-Gothic and Classical Architecture (Image: Sumi Sarma)
Roman Rotunda derived Manchester City Library and the modern trams spanning the city of Manchester (Image: Sumi Sarma)
Tony Husband of Private Eye sketching in between, a unique artist among us! (Image: Sumi Sarma)
Blind Tasting set up for People’s Choice Wine Awards all crisp and covered in black (Image: Sumi Sarma)

A lovely mix of Wine graduates joined in bringing in wide ranging experience and backgrounds with them to judge in the Round 1 of the People’s Choice Wine Awards, which matters a lot to promote new talents. Most importantly, the aim of the awards is “representing the opinions of the general consumer public”, which according to Janet Harrison, the organiser of these awards, is where she seeks to create the difference.

A two day event with Round 1 on the first day with close to 200 wines and a Final Round 2 which involved some of the experienced members of the Wine Trade and winners from Round 1. Quite a good mix of wines made it to the Round 2, which included select wines from some of the major supermarkets as well independent retailers. With more of my involvement in the Round 2, as expected, there were some superb choices that were picked by tasters of Round 1 based on aroma and palate profile. And our noses and taste buds had the final bit of honing and narrowing down even further, to make the final selection of wine(s) that topped the cleverly created headings, some from my memory being, “Fabulous Fizz”, ”Sweets for my Sweet”, “Hearty Reds”, “Blow out”, “Boxing Clever”, “Girls Night in”, “One Man and his BBQ”.

Indeed a commercial perspective to gauging wines and a clever way to pick and point out preferences of the consumer. The positive vibes, calm yet buzzing team spirit of the brilliant team in Round 2 definitely helped in securing some top class wines for these titles, I would like to believe!

The intention of People’s Choice as I understand from Janet Harrison and Judy Kendrick who has worked on the marketing side of the Awards is to bring out what the consumers rate as best and rank the highest. It is not only about price and quality, but also finding out preferred market trends and relative ease of purchase, so the perspective is all about Wines made for the People.

I won’t do justice if I don’t highlight here, the precise artistic craftsmanship of Tony Husband, the prominent cartoonist of “Public Eye” as he combined his wine skills along with drawing his team members while we were at work (of which I was lucky to be one to be part of)!! He made a lovely sketch of a Smiley Sumi (down), which I am forever be grateful to him for.

Also his apt sketch and pun on “sniffing wines vs bottoms” that I interpreted, was in action as the wine assessments took place. All adds to what a heavenly profession we work in!

To finish up, we wish the producers good luck as a lot of dedicated “noses” have gone into these wines that have all been tasted blind. May the best wines come out fruitful in the final feature of the People’s Choice Wine Awards, results of which will be declared towards end of the month!

Wine, Travel, history, culture, art and people – bringing all together is comforting, powerful and impacting at the same time and these awards are a necessary tool for adding a new dimension of consumer demand to the wine market.

‘We are who we are’! Getting our serious hats on for the Wine work and play… Picture depicts the day of Final Judgment and the ready-steady-go mood of Round 2 judges of People’s Choice Wine Awards.

Tony Husband’s impression of the day, speaks a lot! (Image: Sumi Sarma)
Tony Husband’s impression of Sumi ready for a glass of tasting.. Thank you! (Image: Sumi Sarma)
Final and Round 2 judges of People;s Choice of Wine Awards (Image credit: Francesca Gaffey)