Scoring and Rules

Tournament Operation

The tournament will commence when the organizers call the competition to order. Wines will be poured for each participating team in intervals of approximately 8 minutes between pours. The judges will be solely responsible for timing. There will be a short break of approximately five minutes after the sixth wine for emptying the dump buckets and competitor comfort. Upon completion of the 8 minute sampling period for the final wine there will be a 10 minute period where the contestants can finalize their answer sheet prior to turning it in for scoring.

A form will be provided for teams to submit their answers for scoring. Blank paper will be provided for notes. The use of reference materials such as printed sheets, books, or electronic devices are not allowed during the competition. Use of any of these items for any reason during the competition or during the break will result in a point deduction for the team responsible for the rule infraction. The judges will determine the penalty for each infraction observed and the point deductions will be solely determined by the judges.


Points will be awarded for correct identification of key characteristics of the sampled wines. No points will be deducted for incorrect answers. Points will be awarded by the following criteria:

  1. Identification of the predominant grape varietal will be awarded one point for each 10 percent that the main varietal comprises the wine. For example, a wine that consists of seventy percent of a grape varietal will receive seven points for a correct identification. No points will be awarded for identification of lesser varietals in a wine. No points will be awarded if two wine varietals are provided.
  2. Five points will be awarded for identification of the country of origin of the grapes.
  3. Five points will be awarded for identification of the wine region where the grapes originated. Full points will be awarded for identifying the main region, for example Bourdeaux would receive full points for a wine from Margaux. In the case where a team enters a specific sub-region rather than the main region, full points will be awarded for correct answers however no points will be awarded for incorrect sub-region identification.
  4. Correct identification of the vintage, the year that the grapes were harvested, scores 3 points if the country of origin was also correct. Only 1 point will be awarded for a correct year but with a wrong country of origin identified.
  5. Identification of the wine producer is awarded 2 points.
  6. In cases where spelling is incorrect or writing is not legible, the judges have sole discretion to award points if the intent of the answer is not clear to them. There will be no attempts gain clarification from the contestants once the scoring process has begun.

World Championship Participation

The two teams with the highest point total, after any deductions for rules infractions, at the completion of the competition will be selected to represent the United States at the World Wine Tasting Championships. The members of the top two teams will be provided coach air fare to a city near the competition, lodging at the competition site for both nights of the competition events, as well as all entry fees for the competition and associated festivities. If one of the top two teams cannot go to the World Championship, the opportunity to represent will be offered to the third-place team. Air fare and lodging will not be paid for the substitute team however fees for the competition will still be paid by the organizers of the Wine Tasting U.S. Open. If the third-place team cannot attend, the event organizers will then complete the U.S. Team through invitation.