It’s been an incredibly tough year for many businesses, not least those in the hospitality industry. During the COVID-19 pandemic, pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels have been ordered to close and adapt to a new normal which sees a once-vibrant industry struggling under the weight of the coronavirus restrictions. But, as we find ourselves back in lockdown, there’s a way to lift our spirits. And that’s with the return of the People’s Choice Wine Awards.
Now in their fourth year, the 2021 People’s Choice Wine Awards (PCWA) aim to bring back a bit of much-needed cheer. The Manchester-based beverage awards attract entries from the UK and from wine producers across the globe.
The People’s Choice Wine Awards were created in 2017 by Janet Harrison of Cracking Wine and Judy Kendrick, MD of ‘common sense’ wine marketing consultancy JK Marketing. To date, they are the only UK-based national wine awards dedicated to – and judged by – wine consumers, with help and support from industry professionals. The award categories reflect the buying decisions of the average consumer and cover all types of wines and occasions. Submission numbers to the competition have soared 100 per cent year-on-year.
“I’m really thrilled at the number of wines and spirits entered this year,” says Harrison. “We had no idea at the start of the process [during the first lockdown in 2020] if anyone had the headspace to even think about this.”
Socially distanced judging
Although many of this year’s sessions took place online, with the wines shipped to judges around the UK, physical judging sessions were conducted within strictly socially distanced environments over two days. “It was quite a feat,” says Harrison. “But it did mean we could have some great snacks at home and no-one was looking if the judges ‘swallowed’ some of the wines, rather than spitting them out.” Silver linings, eh?
The 2021 awards
This year’s awards will take place online on February 8 and will be hosted by Chorley-based Britain’s Got Talent finalist Steve Royle and wine presenters The Three Drinkers.
“As the ceremony is online, consumers from all around the UK can potentially view it on our YouTube premiere,” says Harrison. “We will have a link available for people to get tickets to attend, all free of course.”
The PCWA categories reflect real world ‘drinking moments’, when everyday wine drinkers are most likely to enjoy a glass or two with friends or family. This year’s 26 categories include Reds for Easy Weekday Meals, Whites for Aromatic and Asian Cuisine and, somewhat poignantly in the current context, Big Night In.
More than 120 wines made it to the shortlist, including new wines launched by Kylie Minogue, Sarah Jessica Parker, Graham Norton and Sir Ian Botham. New for 2021 are the People’s Choice Sprits Awards with eight categories covering gin, rum and whisky.
The 2021 Sponsors are Yang Sing, The Buyer, Smurfit Kappa, Wines of Portugal, Loft, Lanchester Wines, Mid-Week Wines, The Best Life Project, and Graze Delicatessen in Ramsbottom.
How to get involved
If you’re partial to a home-based tipple or two, enthusiastic wine drinkers can get involved in this year’s awards by nominating their favourite wine retailer with categories for Best Supermarket Retailer, Best Independent Retailer, and Online Retailer with online voting open now. For more information about the People’s Choice Wine Awards, visit the website.