General notes on judging

The annual Decanter Retailer Awards aim to offer wine drinkers an indispensable guide to the best retail experience. The aim of the award is to celebrate and champion the very best wine retailers out there, rewarding innovation, drive, creativity, energy, evangelism – and even hedonism.

The Decanter Retailer Awards judging process is based on what Decanter readers think is most important to them when purchasing wines: Quality, Value, Range and Service. Within these criteria, the judges will look for:

• Evidence of recent excellence – that is, initiatives relating to the immediate past year (1 June 2022 – 31 May 2023) that entrants can cite in their deliberations as concrete reasons why they are most deserving of an award.
• These are annual awards, so current or recent performance is of key relevance.
• Value, service, range, quality and innovation are all critical issues and worthy of particular focus in your entries. The weighting may reflect in the category entered: for example, in specialist categories, range becomes particularly important. Service is perhaps more important to independent retailers and less relevant to supermarkets than range, quality or value. That said, anything that helps you stand out from your competition is worthy of mention.
• For all categories, specific evidence or examples helps judges greatly.
• Judges love seeing retailers’ personality coming through in the entries.
• Don’t be afraid to be brief – less is more. Please remember that judges have many entries to consider so brevity, properly supported by evidence and weight of argument, is a virtue. There is no need for repetition.

On the entry form, please refer to the section ‘What are judges looking for’ for more information on each category’s judging criteria.

The judging process

The judging panel consists of six independent wine experts and is led by our Chairman, Peter Richards MW. The judges have been chosen for their extensive knowledge in the retailer environment. Click here to see the list of judges.

There are three stages of judging:

Stage 1:
The judges will work in pairs and will be assigned categories. The exception to the rule is Supermarket entries, which all judges will look at together. The 1st round of judging will take place from 10 July – 26 July 2023. Each judge will be asked to score each entrant based on the followings:
• Staff training
• Wine Range (including quality, pricing, value and diversity)
• Customer Services (any assistance and advice you provide including how you interact with customers)
• Innovation and performance (including what sets you apart from your competitor)

Judges will award points for each of the criteria listed above based on a rating scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is measured as exceptional, 5 as average and 2 as weak. If any criterion is not addressed on the entry form or in the supporting materials, a standard score of 1 will be awarded. They will also be asked to comment on each entrant.


Stage 2:
Once all the scores and comments have been submitted by the judges, the Decanter team will circulate to all the judges the ‘shortlist’ for each category which will consist of the top-scoring entrants. In case of discrepancies between judges, the chairman will settle any disagreements. The judging process is based on majority ruling wherein:
• The chairman determines the final winner when there is no consensus among panel members.
• The chairman may not overrule a final result if all judges on the panel are in agreement.

The judges will collectively look at all the shortlist within each category before the judging day. The 2nd round of judging will take place from 31 July – 18 August 2023.


Stage 3:
The judges will then have a full discussion on all the entrants, shortlisted and non-shortlisted. The scores will just help provide the judges with a workable context to start the discussion, and save time in the process. The judges will decide on the winner as well as a runner-up for each category.  It will be awarded at the judges’ discretion and there may not be a winner or runner-up in each category. The 3rd round of judging will take place on Thursday 24 August 2023.

Finally, there are two awards we will be awarding existing entrants: Outstanding Retailer of the Year and Judges’ Choice. Outstanding Retailer can be considered an ‘overall winner’, one name we want to pull out as the most outstanding retailer for this year. Judges’ Choice is awarded at the judges’ discretion – this award will highlight a retailer who is doing something different, innovative and creative.