In the wine industry today there are countless national and international events at which wines or wine products are evaluated and awarded prizes according to the respective criteria. The first international wine competitions were held in the 19th century, among other things as part of the World Expositions, the first was in London in 1851. That of the year 1855 in Paris is inseparably connected with the legendary Bordeaux classification. Some producers still use the rank they achieved in this classification to advertise on their labels, even though today's wines are completely different. And this by no means refers exclusively to pre-Phylloxera wines (before phylloxera), because the techniques have changed fundamentally since then.
Especially in France, however, there have been more or less regular evaluations on a larger scale long before that. Probably the most famous one was the Bordeaux classification in 1855 on the occasion of a world exhibition in Paris, which is still of some importance today. That there were probably competitions at least in the Middle Ages, however, is suggested by the 13th century poem "La bataille des vins" (The battle of the wines) by the minstrel Henri d'Andeli. It tells of a competition between 70 wines with a surprise winner.
There is no other sector in the food and beverage industry that compares its products at international competitions as often as wine and spirits. These events make a positive contribution to general quality improvement. Often there are medals (platinum, gold, silver, bronze) or trophies in various categories (white, red, sweet, sparkling wines etc.) and also special awards such as "Winemaker/Newcomer/Winery of the year". The most important events include the annual AWC = International Austrian Wine Challenge (Vienna), Decanter World Wine Awards (London), International Wine Challenge (London), ProWein (Düsseldorf), VieVinum (Vienna), VINEXPO (Bordeaux) and Vinitaly (Verona), where awards are presented as a supporting programme. Overseas such events are known as "Wineshow". The medals awarded have an unofficial hierarchy depending on the importance of the event. Thus, silver of one competition may be more important than gold of another.
However, one has to keep in mind that many wineries do not participate in such contests as a matter of principle. Famous wineries such as Château Cheval Blanc, Château Mouton-Rothschild or eChâteaud'Yquem have no need for this or even do without it. In addition, smaller producers often cannot afford it at all. Such competitions are therefore not European or World Championships, where "all" renowned top producers are in principle present. A comparison of quality is therefore only possible within the participating wines. This does not mean that the most renowned top wineries do not also participate. Apart from the international events, there are also national competitions in almost every winegrowing country, which are organised either by winegrowing institutions or by wine guides (wine journals).
For more information on this topic, see also Wine approach and Wine evaluation. Under the heading Wine Events, the most important wine events worldwide are listed. A complete list of all classification systems for areas and wines can be found under Grand Cru. The quality classes for wines valid within the European Union are described in detail under Quality System.