Those of you who have read the 108 competition entries that we published this month and last will realise just how difficult it has been to pick a winner from all these accounts of how people fell for wine. I have loved them all, because they add up to a celebration of the magical liquid we all love so much, highlighting its intrigue and its special properties of providing both sensual and intellectual stimulation, and its extraordinary ability to bring people together across cultures and generations.
It was particularly exciting to see entries from every continent and so many different countries, more than 30 in all. A great mix of amateurs and professionals, including four Masters of Wine. And to see how in many cases wine is a constant companion for enthusiasts as they move around the world, as so many of the 108 seem to have done. I was also pleased to see how many women entered our competition – constituting a much higher proportion of the total than, say, of contributors to our forum, or members of our Purple Pages in general. And it was a delight to see the wide age range of these talented writers, from university students to retirees. Thank you all.
We owe just as many thanks to those whose entries were received but not published because they all provided pleasure, but the overall standard was extremely high. To be published, the accounts had to be either particularly well-written or to provide an intriguing and unique view of wine discovery – preferably both.
Our winner of six of my new wine glasses (RRP £200, above right) and my young wine decanter (RRP £100, immediately above) managed both briliantly, but there were so many excellent entries that we have identified 10 runners-up (in alphabetical order below). Each of them will receive a special microfibre glass-polishing cloth (RRP £20), which comes with careful diagrammatic instructions for use from my glassware partner Richard Brendon, who has kindly donated all the prizes. (For the record, I prefer to leave my glasses to dry in the dishwasher but I know some people are keen polishers, even though this is when glasses are at their most vulnerable. Our instructions are designed to preserve your wine glasses, whichever sort you favour.)
These are our picks, with their nationalities as far as we can tell. Click on their names to read their (unedited) accounts of how they fell in love with wine.
Emily Campeau (Canada)
Aaron Bartels (US)
Bob Davidson (UK)
Melanie Hawks (US)
Fintan Kerr (UK)
Misa Labarile (Italy)
Andrew Licudi (UK)
Peter McDaid (US)
Skirmantas Milius (Lithuania)
Erin Nixon (US)
Robert Stanier (UK)
Everyone whose entry was published will receive My First Crush, a commemorative eBook containing all 108 published entries, edited, assembled, ordered and entitled by Andrew Morris, the experienced copy-editor and WSET graduate who joined our team at the beginning of this year. We very much hope you enjoy this tribute to wine’s powerful allure. Below, just to remind you, is our talented winner, currently sommelier at Candide in Montreal but surely a book contract cannot be far away?