Best in glass
Wine Challenge

The Best in Glass (BIG) Wine Challenge is a wine competition (and we all know how many of those exist around the country) but I think you will find this one is unique in several ways: There is no fee to participate, all of the judges are working sommeliers or F&B managers, and the wines that win medals in the challenge have a good chance of ending up as by-the-glass selections on some of South Florida’s most coveted wine lists.

In the past, Best in Glass judging took place in January; this year, we are moving it to May 15 – 16, 2016 both to line up with some of the events of VeritageMiami in October, and to make the timing easier on our judges by moving it out of high season. All the judges in Best in Glass are actively working in the South Florida on-premise wine trade. These sommeliers and their colleagues are the wine decision makers, and they pledge to put winning wines at Best in Glass on their by-the-glass list. In addition to the restaurants represented by the sommelier judges, many other restaurants also participate in “Best in Glass Month” in September as we build toward the annual VeritageMiami, October 5 - 9, 2016. In its 21st year, this event draws thousands of wine and food enthusiasts and has raised millions to support United Way of Miami-Dade’s work in education, financial stability and health.


Ian Beglau, Toro Toro at InterContinental Miami
Tim Bubar, Marion and El Tucán, Miami
Don Derocher, Lobster Bar Sea Grille, Fort Lauderdale
Nicholas Ducos, Uvaggio Wine Bar, Coral Gables
Carlos Fonseca, El Carajo, Miami
Amanda Fraga, The Genuine Hospitality Group, Miami
Sylvie Gervais, Mizner Country Club, Delray Beach
Brian Jackson, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, Miami
Adrian Lopez, Zuma, Miami
Aniece Meinhold, The Federal and Phuc Yea, Miami
Jorge Mendoza, Cioppino at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami
Bora Stankovic, American Social, Miami
Zarko Stankovik, Juvia Restaurant Group, Miami Beach
Jennifer Wagoner, Michael Mina Restaurants, Miami Beach



Judging and categories

The basic concept is simple: a series of blind tastings is held and judges award the top wines a gold or silver medal. Nothing unusual there, except that at the Best in Glass Wine Challenge the aim is to choose wines that work well (by both price and quality) in a by-the-glass environment, and only working sommeliers at South Florida’s top restaurants are eligible to be judges. They are tasting wines and evaluating them by whether they would put them on their by-the-glass list.

We are honored to count many of South Florida’s top sommeliers and beverage managers among our 25 judges, including:

W. Ian Beglau, Toro Toro at InterContinental Miami
Tim Bubar, Marion
Don Derocher, Lobster Bar Sea Grille
Amanda Fraga, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink
Silvie Gervais, Mizner Country Club
Brian Grandison, Hakkasan at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Kirsta Grauberger, Market 17
Eric Larkee, The Genuine Hospitality Group
Jorge Mendoza, The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami
Dwayne Savoie, Azul at Mandarin Oriental Miami
Bora Stankovic, American Social
Zarko Stankovik, Faena
Daniel Toral, The 50 Eggs Group
Jennifer Wagoner, Stripsteak and Michael Mina 74 at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach

The Best in Glass Wine Challenge is designed to evaluate wines offered in restaurants by the glass, and our entry categories are based on that concept. The categories are organized as one might find on a wine list rather than the straight varietal listing expected in a retail environment. The judges are given basic information on the wines including Old World/New World, vintage, and when appropriate, varietal composition. The judges taste wines in flights of similar wines, grouped by price category as well as variety/style.

Within broadly based categories, there will still be subdivisions dictated by our maximum of eight wines per flight so consider these categories mainly as a guideline.

White Wine
  • Champagne (including rosé Champagne)
  • Sparkling wine (all colors and composition, excepting Champagne)
  • Crisp, dry and light bodied whites
  • Aromatic, fruity and medium bodied dry whites
  • Full-bodied, rich whites
Rosé Wine
  • Dry still rosé
Red Wine
  • Light, easy drinking reds with little or no oak
  • Medium bodied, soft and/or fruity reds (i.e. Cru Beaujolais, Barbera, many Tempranillo and Sangiovese)
  • Pinot Noir
  • Bordeaux varietals and blends (i.e. Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec)
  • Rhone varietals and blends, including Syrah (i.e. Syrah, Shiraz, GSM blends)
  • Big, powerful reds (i.e. Zinfandel, Brunello, Barolo, Amarone)
Fortified Wines & Dessert Wines


For a downloadable list of the medal-winning wines, click below:




Gold medal wines will be eligible to be featured on the by-the-glass lists of dozens of participating restaurants during “Best in Glass Month”, September 9 - October 9. Each participating restaurant pledges to select at least two of the gold medal-winning wines to feature on their wine lists, with many restaurants choosing more than two wines. Here, with the strong sales support of your South Florida distributor, you can have your winning wines chosen by the restaurants and featured on their by-the-glass lists. Gold medal-winning wines will be featured at the Interactive Dinner and other VeritageMiami events in October 2016 and at the JWU Zest™ Awards in March 2017.

Participating Restaurants


  • Determine the wines you wish to enter at specific wholesale price points. The wholesale price categories used in the judging are:
    1. Under $10 per bottle
    2. $10.01 - $14.99
    3. $15.00 - $20.00
    4. Champagne Only: Wholesale price up to $35.00
  • Determine the category for each wine entered. The competition reserves the right to re-classify wine entries in the event a category does not have a sufficient number of entries.
  • Complete entry online form or print, scan and submit as a PDF email attachment to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . All entry forms must be complete.

Eligibility and Rules

The Best in Glass Wine Challenge is open to all wines that have a South Florida distributor, and meet the price categories and availability guidelines below.

  • At the request of the judges, the competition will not accept wines made from fruit other than grapes, nor will the judges consider wines with added non-grape flavors.
  • Each entry must include four 750ml bottles of the submitted wine. Dessert wines are the only exception, and may be submitted in 375ml bottles.
  • Wines submitted for judging must be available in the South Florida market at the time of “Best in Glass Month” (September 9 – October 9) – be sure you submit the vintage that will be available during that period and assure a sufficient quantity will be available for distribution. Wines without guaranteed availability to participating restaurants will be disqualified.
  • Our price categories have been set by the sommelier judges to include wines they will realistically consider for purchase. Wines must meet one of the four wholesale price categories, and the entry form must include the wholesale price (not the category) for restaurant use.
  • There is no limit on the number of wines a winery or distributor may submit, but each wine may be entered only once and in a single category.


Entry Deadline: Friday, April 15, 2016


Lyn Farmer | email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. cell: (305) 968-7976
Manny Ornano | email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. office: (305) 646-7036