Wine Tasting as a Varsity Sport

Wine Tasting as a Varsity Sport
Wine Tasting as a Varsity Sport

Wine tasting is great, but competitive wine tasting? That just might be taking things a little bit too far. Add in some collegiate competitiveness, and blind wine tasting becomes something truly unique. Enter the Oxford vs. Cambridge Varsity Blind Wine Tasting Competition. Who knew?


More that 60 years ago, competitors from the British colleges of Oxford and Cambridge first gathered to decide which team was truly superior in the sport(?) of blind wine tasting. Oxford won this inaugural match (battle? contest? bowl?) and the rivalry was on.

Wine Tasting as a Varsity SportWine Tasting as a Varsity Sport

The modern-day competition is quite refined. There are six wines to be tasted and characterized. Guess the varietal, get 5 points. Discern the country of origin and you receive another 5 points. Know the region? That’s 2 more points, with a 3-point bonus on top for the sub-region. The vintage is worth 2 points and accurate tasting notes will get you another 5 points. Luckily, non-imbibers are on hand to keep score.

Wine Tasting as a Varsity Sport

The annual competition is the culmination of months of weekly training sessions. Each college winnows two dozen eager candidates down to six final competitors over this training period. Many are called, few are chosen. Only the best will do in a competition this fierce. And don’t even think about spilling wine on that letterman sweater.

But what about that “Varsity” moniker? The collegiates have asked their colleges for recognition as a sport, but so far they have to settle for having a great excuse to taste a lot of good wine!

Now, if only they had a drinking song! Oh, wait….


About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?

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