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By entering a good show you can establish if your winemaking is as good as it can be, and if not, by discussion with a Judge you can learn where further improvements could be made.

WHICH WINES TO ENTER: Enter all the wines you consider to be good quality, don’t just look for one good one to enter.
Select your wines/beers by sight and taste, and not by the name of the recipe used. Many good wines/beers fail to get prizes because they are in the wrong class.

PRESENTATION: Two points are awarded for presentation and everyone should get these two points by:

  1. Using the type of bottle and cork specified in the schedule.
  2. Leaving the required air space between wine/beer and cork/capsule.
  3. Placing the correct label where stated in the schedule.
  4. Ensuring the bottle is clean inside and out. Look for gum smears after fitting the label.
Corks: See Rule 6.

Suit them to the schedule as follows:

APERITIFS: Wines taken before a meal to stimulate the appetite. Aperitifs should have sufficient acid to taste fresh and leave the palate clean. Alcohol should be between 14% and 17%.
TABLE WINE CLASSES: These wines are meant to accompany the enjoyment of food. They can vary from light to strong flavour. Table wines are varied in style and colour and are dealt with under separate headings.
RED TABLE WINE DRY: Colour should be red but tints of purple or black or tawny is acceptable. The wine must be without easily recognizable sweetness. The flavour can be substantial and should remain in the aftertaste. Some astringency from tannins is expected, with mellowness and maturity desirable. The bouquet should be complex and vinous. Acidity should be between 0.45% & 0.65% and the alcohol from 10% to 14%. Examples such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rioja.
WHITE TABLE WINE DRY: Pale colour is desirable, there should be no brown or pink tones. The wine should taste dry without easily recognizable sweetness. The flavour should be pleasant with no bitter aftertaste and should give an impression of freshness leaving the mouth clean. Acidity should be between 0.5% to 0.8% and alcohol between 9% and 13%. The bouquet should be clean, fragrant & vinous. Examples such as White Burgundies, Alsace and dry Loire wines.
WHITE TABLE WINE MEDIUM DRY:  Pale colour is desirable. The wine must have easily detected sweetness but not sufficiently predominant to classify it as a sweet wine. A good balance and flavour is more important than the exact degree of sweetness. Alcohol should be between 8.5% and 13% and acidity between 0.55% and 0.90%. Examples would be German wines such as Liebfraumilch and QbA and QmP wines.
WHITE TO GOLDEN TABLE WINE SWEET: Colour can be deeper than for the dry or medium wines ranging up to golden but should not be dark. The flavour can be richer than the other wines with the alcohol up to 14%. The acidity should be between 0.6% and 0.9% sufficient to balance the sweetness and to prevent a cloying finish. The sweetness should not overwhelm the other characteristics. This is a wine that is best drunk with fruit or dessert at the end of a meal. An example would be Sauterne.
ROSE TABLE WINE: Commercial examples from the dry Tavel to the medium or medium-sweet Anjou. The wine should be pink, variations in colour intensity and slight orange or ‘onion skin' tints are acceptable. The flavour must be light, fruity and fresh and the bouquet should reflect these points. There should not be excessive astringency. Acidity should be between 0.55% and 0.9% and the alcohol between 10% and 12% and the whole should be in balance with any sweetness.
AFTER-DINNER WINE RED SWEET: The colour should be deep. Mature wines may have tawny characteristics but should display some red colour. The flavour should be rich fruity and vinous, the whole being mellow and mature. Acidity should be between 0.45% and 0.7%. The alcohol should be as high as may be achieved by fermentation. The wine should be as sweet as the other characteristics will permit without it becoming cloying. Although this wine is often called ‘Dessert’ it is meant for drinking after dinner. Examples would be Mavrodaphne of Patras 15% to Port 22%.
AFTER-DINNER WINE WHITE TO BROWN SWEET: Here a wide range of colours is acceptable with the deeper colours usually providing the best wines but there must be no Red colouring. Acidity should be between 0.5% and 0.9%. All other characteristics are as After Dinner Wine Red Sweet. Examples Madeira, Muscat & sweet Oloroso Sherries.
FORTIFIED WINES - Madeira Type: Wines in this class should emulate the Malmsey type of wine. This is a fortified, luscious, sweet ‘After-Dinner’ wine. The colour is deep tawny. The wine is full bodied and has a full sweet flavour with caramelised overtones on the farewell. The sweetness is balanced by a fairly high level of acidity. The final Specific Gravity should be from 1.025 to 1.050, alcohol about 18% and the acidity as tartaric acid about 0.6% to 0.7%.
WINES BY INGREDIENT: These wines can range from light dry table to full bodied sweet after-dinner wines. The main criteria are that the wine should be clean and sound and that it is in balance for the particular class in which it is entered. When judging named ingredient classes one can often detect other ingredients and while these may improve the wine they may blur recognition of the named ingredient. Provided that they do not predominate over the named ingredient the entry is acceptable.
MEAD: Mead is essentially a wine whose character is derived from the use of honey, as the major source of fermentable sugar. Variants with added fruit juice and/or herbs and spices are acceptable. A wide range of colours is acceptable, including red where red fruit juice is added.
SPARKLING WINE: This wine must contain carbon dioxide produced by a secondary fermentation in the bottle. Although this wine is usually white both red and rosé may be entered. Even though the wine may be specified as dry a small amount of recognizable sweetness is acceptable. Acidity may range from 0.6% to 0.9% and alcohol from 10% to 12%. The commercial example is Champagne.
LIQUEURS: Homemade liqueurs are strong (usually 25-40% alcohol), sweet, and highly flavoured after-dinner drinks. Many flavours and styles are encountered but they can be divided into four general groups.
  1. Fruit base: e.g. alcohol infusions using various fruits (approx. 25-35% alcohol: 35-40% for orange liqueurs such as Cointreau and Grand Marnier).
  2. Chocolate/Coffee base: e.g. Tia Maria, cacao types etc. (approx. 25-30% alcohol).
  3. Herb/Spice base: e.g. peppermint, aniseed and more complex blends such as Benedictine types (approx. 30-40% alcohol, with Green Chartreuse an exception at 55%).
All beers entered should be bottle matured and should have a firm and light yeast deposit. The beers should be conditioned to give a fine running bead and close-knit head. Head retention should be good although beers high in alcohol may have little head retention. Acidity should not be predominant in any of these beer types. The definitions used in the NGWBJ handbook are fairly broad.  Although they are derived in the main from classic English beer styles, there is no implication that beers have to adhere strictly to the use of English hops.  Many brewers now use American or other foreign hops, particularly in their pale ales.  Provided that the beer conforms to the NGWBJ guidelines for that style (e.g. it is not excessively hoppy for the style), then the use of non-English hops should neither be penalised nor favoured by judges when assessing beers.
LIGHT LAGER: Original gravity (O.G.) should be from 35-40. The beer should be of a light golden colour and the bouquet a delicate blend of hops, malt and DMS (dimethyl sulphide). The flavour should be dry, clean and refreshing, light in malt and hops. Alcohol normally ranges from 3.5-4.5%.
HEAVY LAGER: With an O.G. of 50-65, alcohol content ranges from 5-7%. Colour varies from golden to amber. The bouquet should be malty and grainy with slight DMS and a good hop balance. The beer should be full bodied with a malty flavour, a firm hop background and perceptible alcohol. Some sweetness due to dextrins may be apparent.
LIGHT BITTER: The term ‘light’ refers to flavour and not colour. With an O.G. of 30-40 and an alcohol level of 3-3.8% the colour may vary from straw to amber. The beer should have a bouquet light to moderate in hop. The taste should be clean and dry; the bitterness should not overpower the other flavour components.
PALE ALE or BOTTLED BITTER: Original gravity should be from 40-50 and the colour from golden to deep copper. The aroma of hops in the bouquet should lead to those of malt and grain. The flavour should be full, malty and grainy with a hoppy bitter farewell and perhaps a little sweetness from residual dextrins. Alcohol content 4-5%.
ENGLISH IPA: This full bodied premium bitter has an O.G. of 50-60 and a rich golden to deep copper colour. The bouquet should be hoppy and grainy. The flavour should be full malty and grainy with a predominant hop and clean bitter farewell. There should be a little residual sweetness to balance the hop. Alcohol 5-6.5%.
LONDON BROWN ALE: Original gravity of 35-40 giving an alcohol level of 3.5-4%. Colour may vary from light to dark brown. The bouquet is malty backed by caramel. The beer should be sweet on the palate giving a smooth blend of malt and caramel with a low hop flavour.
NEWCASTLE BROWN ALE: The O.G. of 45-50 is reflected in an alcohol level of 4.5-5.0%. The colour should be a light reddish brown and the bouquet a blend of caramel and hop. The flavour should be full-bodied blend of caramelized malt with medium bitterness and noticeable sweetness.
DRY STOUT: This beer has an O.G. of 45-50 and an alcohol content of 4.5 - 5.0%. The bouquet should be that of roasted grain. The flavour should be of roasted grains full and dry with a long hard bitter finish. The colour is almost black.
SWEET STOUT: O.G. of 40-55. Colour is dark brown to almost black. Dark malts dominate the bouquet and flavour, bitterness is slight. Alcohol ranges from 4 to 5.5%. "Milk" stouts, sweetened with lactose have a high residual sweetness. Oatmeal versions are less sweet but full bodied and can have an oily mouthfeel.
STRONG ALE: This full-bodied beer has an O.G. of 60-80 and an alcohol content of 6-8%. The colour may range from golden to garnet. The bouquet should be malty and fruity backed with a good hop aroma. The flavour should be a full blend of malt hops and alcohol with some residual sweetness.
PORTER: This beer has an O.G. of 60-70 and an alcohol content of 5.5 - 7%. With a colour of dark brown to black, with a predominance of brown and chocolate malts on the bouquet and in the flavour. The flavour should also be full, with some residual sweetness to balance the hop and roast grains.
BARLEY WINE: Colour ranges from golden to brown. O.G. is from 90 upwards. The bouquet should be rich fruity hoppy alcoholic and vinous. The flavour should be full and malty with a smooth and mature blend of sweetness, hop and alcohol. Alcohol content will be 9% or greater.
DARK MILD: A lightly hopped beer with an O.G. of 35-40. The colour may range from light to dark brown. The flavour will have a delicate blend of malt and roast grains. Alcohol content will range from 3.5 - 4.5%.
WHEAT BEER This is a young fresh fast maturing beer, pale straw to dark gold in colour, with an OG of 45-55. It is typically brewed using up to 50% wheat malt and is often cloudy. It should be highly carbonated with a thick, well retained head. Yeast derived flavours, from using the correct type of yeast, are needed and can be fruity and spicy, with phenolic clove and banana like flavours amongst others. Belgian styles often use unmalted wheat, producing a bready/grainy flavour, and may be flavoured with coriander and orange peel. Hop bitterness, flavour and aroma should be low, with a soft finish on the palate. Commercial examples include Hoegaarden, Schneider-weisse, Erdinger and Franziskaner.

Wine and Beer definitions from 2000 NGWBJ Handbook with kind permission.

2017. AMERICAN IPA O.G. 1055-1070, alcohol 5.5 – 7.5%. Medium gold to medium reddish copper colour. Prominent to intense hop aroma with typical characteristics of American hops. Medium-high to very high hop bitterness, but not harsh. Low-medium malt flavour, clean and malty sweet. A hoppy, bitter, moderately strong American pale ale with lighter body than English equivalent.
2018. AMBER ALE O.G. 1045-1055; alc. 4.5-5.5%; IBU 30-45. Deep amber – deep copper in colour. Malty nose with nutty, toasty or caramel undertones balanced by spicy or citrusy hops. Should have assertive hop bitterness balanced by rich complex malty flavours, with a medium dry to dry finish.

More detailed definitions of the above beers can be found at The BJCP web site.

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Last updated: 26/09/16