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About the Sommelier Wine Awards  

The Sommelier Wine Awards is a wine competition with a difference. As Britain’s only on-trade wine competition, it focuses entirely on wines aimed at the on-trade.

Since it started in 2007 it has grown to become the first point of reference for the UK's on-trade wine buyers as well as the key competition for wines trying to increase their presence in hotels, pubs, bars and restaurants across the world.

The SWA judges all serve or buy wine for their venues in the on-trade, or are leading consultants. Wines with general distribution in the high street are not permitted to enter, except for sparkling and fortified wines, or merchants' online-exclusive wines.

What makes this competition distinctive?...

See the judging page for more on our judging process. The second round sees Bronze and Silver medals awarded, plus the ultimate award, a place on the Gold List. At this stage, those red wines that need to ‘open up’, whether due to youth or the style of the wine, are aerated and served in a decanter.

What’s the Gold List?

This is the defining feature of the Sommelier Wine Awards. The objective of this competition is not simply to hand out medals, but to put together the ultimate wine list for the UK on-trade – the Gold List – from about 3,000 wines sent in. This list covers everything from great value wines to trophy quality bottles, from must-stocks such as Pinot Grigio or Rioja up to more esoteric handsells.

Who are your judges?

Drawn from all sectors of the on-trade – hotels, bars, restaurants and pubs – our judges include Master Sommeliers and Masters of Wine, and all are involved with either buying or serving wine, or consulting to the industry. See the 2019 judges here.

What is the role of the Head of Judging?

This is an ‘overseeing’ position for the final round of judging, with Hakkasan’s group wine buyer, Christine Parkinson, keeping a handle on all of the wines that are put forward by the judges for places on the Gold List. Aided by Drinkonomics' Christopher Coooper, she makes sure that there are no gaps or duplications, and that all price points are covered.

Are there any special awards?

Find out more about our Trophies here, including the Food Match Trophies, Critics’ Choice, By The Glass and Pub & Bar Trophies.
The Merchant Awards and Producer of the Year awards are given to those submitters who have done particularly well in certain key areas.
Finally, senior judges decide on the ultimate awards, the Wines of the Year.

Can I try the winning wines?

You can call in samples from the UK Suppliers - see the Supplier Directory

What the winners say...

See what some of the leading SWA winners say about the competition here.