Judging Glass of Bubbly Champagne and Sparkling Wine Awards 2023

How to sum up two fascinating days judging sparkling wines from around the world for Glass of Bubbly’s 2023 Champagne and Sparkling Wine Awards.

Chris, Eve, and Oliver Walkey had brought together an interesting mix of judges drawn from across Europe and the USA. This made for some great discussions and lively debates.

Judges of Glass of Bubbly 2023 Champagne and Sparkling Wine Awards

But what about the wines?

It’s not one style

 It is not easy to sum up two days of blind tasting over 80 sparkling wines, but one of the best things for me was the wonderful diversity of the wines. The 2023 award submissions demonstrated the diversity of flavours and textures that can be achieved in sparkling wines.

From lightly flavoured effervescent sparkling, through richer, complex lees aged wines, to deeply coloured red sparkling wines, they showcased why this style of wine is so popular and why its popularity continues to grow.

Sparkling wines are all you need for any food or occasion - yes, really!

Although we all think of sparkling wines, particularly Champagne as the archetypal celebration wines, they really are much more than that. They can be fantastic food wines.

With their high acidity and fruitiness, dry sparkling wines pair beautifully with seafood and fish. But it doesn’t stop there, they cut through fatty and creamy foods making a wonderful contrast to pair with fish and chips, creamy fish or chicken pie, risottos, and pasta dishes.

If you pick a fruity sparkling, rosés, and reds in particular, they are wonderful with a summer BBQ. Pick one that has the flavour intensity to complement the full-on flavour fest of a BBQ, with its charred meats and vegetables and BBQ sauces.

But sparkling wines aren’t just for summer. I would have sparkling wines with any food and in any season.

It was when I heard Didier Depond, president of Champagne Salon & Champagne Delamotte, at Decanter Magazine’s Fine Wine Encounter way back in 2016, saying that he would have Champagne with steak that made me look at sparkling wines in a different light.

A wonderfully rich, aged Blanc de Blanc Champagne really does have all the flavour complexity and texture to complement something as rich as steak, particularly with delicious, rare filet steak.

As for roast chicken or turkey, not a problem, I would have an aged Champagne with my Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner in a heartbeat.

It was a joy to have Master of Wine, Patricia Stefanowicz chairing our table of judges, not only because of her vast experience but she is such a champion of pairing sparkling wines and food.

 We had great discussions about what foods would be best to pair with the wines we thought were particularly gastronomic. Talking of which brings us on to Glass of Bubbly’s unique and idiosyncratic trophy categories.

Really useful trophy categories

It’s easy to categorise sparkling wines as celebration wines, or light & fruity, but they are much more than that. This is where Glass of Bubbly’s unique trophy categories come into their own. They have been created with consumers in mind.

Designed to help consumers, no matter their wine knowledge, to select the best wine for the occasion, season, the foods they are having, and the flavours they like.

Each wine, as well as being judged in the usual bronze, silver, and gold categories, was considered in terms of how they fitted into one of 18 trophy categories


Agreeing the most appropriate category for each wine produced some lively debates in our group. I loved the First Date category, particularly when I first proposed using it my fellow judge Luisa Welsh retorted that if I gave her that wine on a first date, there wouldn’t be a second!

Check out the full list of trophy categories with explanations for each category on Glass of Bubbly’s site


I learnt a new word - “bubbleometry”

Patricia Stefanowicz MW introduced us to a new word when she described one of the wines as having “great bubbleometry”.

It's when lots of tiny bubbles flow quickly up the centre of the glass, and you can't wait to start tasting the wine.


As I write this post the results have not yet been announced, so I don’t know the final number of wines gaining gold, silver, and bronze awards. However, I was really impressed with the overall quality of the wines we tasted. There were also some exceptional wines.


I can’t wait for the results to be announced so you too can enjoy these wonderful wines.







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