Judging at The Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine

In mid-August of 2014, the organizers of the 6th Annual Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine, which took place on October 11, 2014, graciously asked Tequila Aficionado Media CEO, Mike Morales, to participate as a judge.  Their unique, take-at-home blind tequila tasting competition used the Tequila Matchmaker smartphone application to score and bestow awards.  You can review the results of the tasting competition here.

Take-Home Test

I dreaded tests and pop quizzes in school.  I never did well on them no matter how long I studied.  The only answer for someone like me to improve his grade was to do extra credit work.  Often, that meant the blessing of the occasional take-home test.

The entire text book, notes and other related materials was at my disposal.  In addition, the stress of competing against my smarter classmates was lifted, as well as any pressure about time limits.

Really, it was a license to cheat!  How could I go wrong?

That’s why the concept of the take-home cata made the Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine’s tasting competition so intriguing for me.

 Matchmaker, Matchmaker,

Make Me A Match…

Grover Sanschagrin, co-founder of TasteTequila.com, is the designer of Tequila Matchmaker, the only smartphone application to date that aids tequila

TasteTequila
TasteTequila

aficionados in finding tequilas that are suitable to their taste preferences.  It also allows enthusiasts to rate and grade brands on a sliding numerical scale.

Grover has introduced Tequila Matchmaker in some of the leading and trending tequila bars in the US.  The Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine is the first event to exclusively use the Tequila Matchmaker app for its blind tasting competition.

Grover Sanschagrin of TasteTequila.com.
Grover Sanschagrin of TasteTequila.com.

In this Facebook interview, Grover shares some of his thoughts on the aftermath of the competition.

TA:  So…did the results amaze you?

GS:  Not really.  I wish there were more brands involved so we could get a better comparison.

Last year, when we announced the results, several brands were in the room.  They immediately asked questions about the judges.  This gave me the idea to “test” the judges as a way of giving the brands an idea of who they were dealing with.
So, duplicating a tequila as a way to “judge the judges” was my answer.  A total experiment.  Not totally scientific, but definitely interesting.

TA:  Did they know who the judges were this time around?

GS:  No, we didn’t disclose which judges gave which scores.  Also, all of the judges, except for one, did well.

TA:  Did they know the names of the judges on the roster?
GS:  I believe so.

Also, rating these tequilas from home is a totally different method than rating them with all of the judges in the same room.  Not that any one is better than the other, just

Freddy the Cat judging añejos.
Freddy the Cat judging añejos.

that they are different.

I would actually like to try an experiment where the same judges rate things at home, and then again, together (like the SOM [Spirits of Mexico competition] format) and then see the differences.
Grover continues…
GS:  I also want to experiment with the order of the selection.  We can actually use our app to create a random order for each person, so nobody will have the same [order].
Ready to judge for Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine.
Ready to judge for Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine.

TA:  That would be a cool variable.

GS:  For me at SOM [Grover was a judge at 2014’s contest], palate fatigue is an issue, so it would be interesting to see if tequilas at the end of the line tend to do better.  I am fascinated by blind ratings, so I’m having a blast trying all these new experiments.
TA:  I think [for me] tequilas at the beginning of the line may also suffer from palate “under work.”

GS:  In our blind tasting tour, we found just the opposite.  The tequilas in slots 1 and 2 tended to score higher that 3-6.  No idea why, really – but it was clear in the comparison of the events.

Beginning of the line for blanco category.
Beginning of the line for blanco category.
TA:  Did the time of day also make a difference?
GS:  It was mid afternoon for all of the events.
TA:  So time of day was pretty consistent?
GS:  I know that the SOM guys insist that spirits must be evaluated in the morning, but that seems a little odd to me.  I think the judge needs to be consistent, but should be able to choose when they drink.  I don’t usually drink in the morning. usually. :-).  There’s an element of “real life” that isn’t present when you drink Tapatio 110 at 9am.

TA:  Did the certified catador do better than was expected?

GS:  Nope.

Rant Alert!

Before I go into my pros and cons of rating tequilas using the Tequila Matchmaker app for the Monterey Bay Tequila & Cuisine, let me get a few pet peeves off my chest.

Judging Competitions–What A Concept!

In all my time studying, analyzing and observing the Tequila Industry, not once have I ever known any tequila enthusiast, purist, newbie, connoisseur, collector or consumer (let alone brand owner and/or importer) to be happy with the results of any spirits judging competition.

Whether it’s the venerable San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the respected Beverage Testing Institute, the famed Spirits of Mexico, or any of the smaller, regional tasting events throughout the country, no one has ever been completely happy or agreed entirely with the outcomes.

The older the judging tournaments are, the more importance their annual medal counts are given by an unsuspecting public who only purchase award winning beers, wines and spirits based on their perceived value, instead of trusting its own taste buds.

Those long running competitions become more expensive to enter, forcing smaller more deserving brands out and leaving the larger, transnational corporations with deeper portfolios and bigger budgets to duke it out.

Accusations of alleged backroom negotiations for awards has also been an issue, of late.

And let’s not forget the most lucrative part of the tasting event–

Licensing

Paying for the rights to use the competition’s branded medals and seals in addition to the entry fees per spirits expression submitted.

Yet, spirits brands in general, and tequila brands in particular, continue to allocate hard-earned marketing dollars toward entering these yearly competitions for the privilege of hanging neck tags from their bottles or affixing stickers onto their labels named for precious metals or gemstones.

Double Vibranium, anyone?

Collecting medals and awards have gone the way of tattoos and piercings–

Everyone has them, and the novelty and mystique have worn off.

At the end of the day, it seems like everyone who participated in the competitions scored some sort of hardware and the rest of us are left shaking our heads in dismay or agreement.

Lastly…

Scoring

Monterey Bay blanco category and glassware.
Monterey Bay blanco category and glassware.

I was once told by a very respected spirits writer that a unified scoring system was good for an event should the organizers decide to hold other branded spirits competitions.

Puh-leez!

Whoever said that a templated numerical  scoring method used to grade different kinds of spirits was appropriate for tequila tastings?  Diffusers aside, tequila itself is so unique, it doesn’t compare with the flavor profiles of all other spirits, so why rate them that way?

How about a rating system that’s good for the juice instead of one that’s good for the show?  (BTW…one already exists.)

Pros And Cons

Pro–scoring on the Tequila Matchmaker app is amazingly simple.

Con–There’s no numerical rating for the tequilas’ appearance on the Tequila Matchmaker app.  Takes the whole sensorial feeling out of tequila tasting.  Only your nose and mouth get to have all the fun.

Pro–Shipping two ounce samples is neat and cost effective for the organizers of the show.

Con–See what happens when minis are compromised.  (Warning:  It’s not pretty.)

I particularly found that my sealed reposado samples were extremely alcohol-y even after sitting at room temperature for a couple of days.

Pro–It’s lovely to take your time judging samples at your leisure.  I agree with

You never know who might stop by to help judge tequila.
You never know who might stop by to help judge tequila.

 

Grover that it saves on palate fatigue, too.

 

Con–I miss the camaraderie of other expert judges and learning from them.  It ups your game like playing one-on-one with LeBron James or batting against Clayton Kershaw.

 

Pro–Depending on my schedule, I chose what time of day to judge my samples.

 

Con–According to the guidelines set forth by the original Mexican Tequila Academy, tastings should begin by 11 AM when a catador’s (tequila taster’s) palate is freshest.  [See also their tequila scoring sheet and criteria.]  This article here explains where this custom began.

 

Pro–I knew which glassware and other tips and tools to use to make me, as a judge, more effective.

 

Con–The lack of uniformity and protocol among the judges could have affected the final results.

 

Pro–It was exciting to use Tequila Matchmaker’s breakthrough scoring system.

 

Con–I can’t, in all honesty, say that I was pleased with the awarded outcomes or my graded performance.

 

See!  What did I tell you?  I hate tests. 

 

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Monterey Bay Tequila Fest Winners Announced

The Monterey Bay Tequila and Cuisine Festival has announced the winners of their 2014 blind tasting.

monterey bay

Blind tastings were conducted over the past month by judges from around the country and compiled using the Tequila Matchmaker App.  Following are the winners of the Monterey Bay Tequila and Cuisine Festival:

fortaleza, Monterey Bay TequilaBlanco Winners

Platinum = Fortaleza

Gold = Don Nacho

Silver = Revolucion

Bronze = Mi Casa Tequila

Reposado Winners

Platinum = Fortaleza

Gold = Don Nacho

Silver = Don Nacho

Bronze = El Jefe

don pilar, tequila, nom list, tequila brands, Monterey Bay TequilaAnejo Winners

Platinum = Don Pilar

Gold = Fortaleza

Silver = tie between Alquimia & Don Valente

Bronze = Don Nacho

 

Extra Anejo Winners

Platinum = Revolucion

Gold = Don Pilar

Silver = Alquimia

Congratulations to all of the winners!

spirits of mexico, 2013, rick levy, Monterey Bay Tequila

 

Never miss an article or review again – Subscribe now!

* indicates required

Email Format

View previous newsletters.


Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Tequila Matchmaker & Tequila Aficionado

tequila matchmaker, app, tequila, tequila aficionadoTequila Matchmaker

Each tequila has its own “flavor fingerprint,” and each person has his or her own flavor preferences. Tequila Matchmaker‘s proprietary matching algorithm uses nine different characteristics to find the best matches for you based upon the reviews you do of the tequilas you drink.  The Matchmaker app it gets smarter the more you use it.

Tequila Matchmaker App for Android & iPhone

Click here to download the app today – it’s free – and let the Tequila Matchmaker figure out your own flavor preferences, then check back here at Tequila Aficionado for our reviews and recommendations.

Read the Tequila Matchmaker FAQs here

 

We created this app because we were tired of trying to make sense of all the arbitrary ‘ratings’ out there. Just because someone gave something a “93” doesn’t mean I am going to like it. Our aim is to create the smartest tequila suggestion engine in the world – the more it is used, the smarter it gets. It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s fair. ~ Grover Sanschagrin – Co-creator

 

 

 

Tequila Aficionado is not affiliated with Tequila Matchmaker or its creators at www.TasteTequila.com.  Our promotion of the Tequila Matchmaker app is solely to provide additional options for aficionados to connect with the greater tequila loving community.  We do not receive any compensation in cash or in kind for any promotion of this product. 

Never miss and article or review again – Subscribe now!

* indicates required

Email Format

View previous newsletters.



Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Tequila Matchmaker Spoken Here

tequila matchmaker
Tequila Matchmaker by TasteTequila.com

 

 We’re on Tequila Matchmaker

Follow us on this app which is now available through TasteTequila for both Android and iPhone.

 

We created this app because we were tired of trying to make sense of all the arbitrary ‘ratings’ out there. Just because someone gave something a “93” doesn’t mean I am going to like it. Our aim is to create the smartest tequila suggestion engine in the world – the more it is used, the smarter it gets. It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s fair. ~ Grover Sanschagrin – Co-creator

Tequila Matchmaker App for Android & iPhone

Click here to download the app today – it’s free – and let the Tequila Matchmaker figure out your own flavor preferences, then check back here at Tequila Aficionado for our reviews and recommendations.

Read the Tequila Matchmaker FAQs here

Tequila Aficionado is not affiliated with Tequila Matchmaker or its creators at www.TasteTequila.com. Our promotion of the Tequila Matchmaker app is solely to provide additional options for aficionados to connect with the greater tequila loving community. We do not receive any compensation in cash or in kind for any promotion of this product.

Never miss and article or review again – Subscribe now!

* indicates required

Email Format

View previous newsletters.



Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Beta Testing Tequila Matchmaker for Android

We’re pretty excited today here at Tequila Aficionado Media.  Mike and I are participating in the beta test of the Tequila Matchmaker Android App.  (The iVersion has been out for a while now, but droids like us have been waiting for this!)  We both downloaded it to our Android phones yesterday.

tequila matchmaker, tequila, iphone, androidIn case you aren’t familiar with Tequila Matchmaker, you can find out more at www.tequilamatchmaker.com.  In a nutshell, it is the brainchild of the folks at www.tastetequila.com and it will help you find tequilas you’ll enjoy based upon the tequilas you’ve rated.  Very smart!

I’m excited about this application because, as a writer, my disposable income is, well, let’s just say modest.  What I find great about this application is the fact that I can rate tequilas that I have tasted and based on those ratings I can find other tequilas that I am likely to enjoy.  With a limited budget, the last thing anyone wants to do is buy a bottle of bad Juice and then be out $30-$50.  Sure you can always make bad juice into a margarita but who wants a bad margarita?  Needless to say, the financial benefits alone are pretty impressive.

I also like the ready access to others’ reviews.  Mike has tried hundreds of tequilas and will have a great deal to add to the tequila database.  Rather than having to text Mike every time I want to make a tequila purchase, I can just check the Matchmaker app and plan my shopping accordingly.  The benefit to those of you who don’t know Mike’s phone number should be obvious.

In case you’re wondering if there is any benefit to those of you who have tried hundreds of tequilas, like Mike and Alex have, there is.  In addition to being able to brag about how much you’ve tasted and earning an impressive rank on the Tequila Matchmaker app, you’ll be able to explore new tequilas that you may not have tried yet as well as connect with other aficionados through the groups and events that are available on the app.

So far I am finding it very user friendly.  The design is simple and effective and the colors are attractive.  I don’t have a whole lot of reviews up yet, but I am looking forward to trying new tequilas and adding more.

If you’re already on the tequila matchmaker application for iPhone feel free to connect with us through the app.  My user name is Lisa Pietsch and Mike can be found in there under Mike Morales.  Feel free to leave your own user name in the comments below so we can connect with you on Tequila Matchmaker too!

Never miss and article or review again – Subscribe now!

* indicates required

Email Format

View previous newsletters.



Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

How to Get Paid to Drink Tequila:

How you can turn your passion into profits and get paid to drink tequila as a blogger, vlogger, podcaster or author

 

Salud!!