For many people, myself included, the highlights of most Olympic Games are the opening and closing ceremonies.
Everyone loves a spectacle, and other than the Super Bowl half-time show, there isn’t a spectacle in the world of sports that even comes close to the ceremonies that kick off and conclude the Olympics.
For instance, will we ever forget Muhammad Ali, his body ravaged with Parkinson’s Disease, making a surprise appearance at the 1996 Games in Atlanta to light the Olympic Torch? (You can relive that extraordinary moment here.)
This year, for the first time ever, the Games are being held in South America. By all reports, Brazilian officials have done merely a so-so job of preparing Rio de Janeiro for the event. With fear of the Zika Virus looming large, and with our world being so unstable, leaders of the International Olympic Committee are keeping their collective fingers crossed that all goes well, and that the Rio Games are remembered for all the right reasons.
Whenever the Games come around, I’m reminded of how similar they are to the world of wine in terms of recognizing excellence. Of course, I’m speaking of the awarding of gold, silver and bronze medals.
What’s really interesting is how similar the perception of those medals is. Whether it’s the Olympic Games or a prestigious wine competition, it seems as if anything less than a gold medal is considered a “loser.”
Man, those are pretty high standards to live up to.
Think about it. You’ve won a silver medal in an Olympic competition. That means you are the second-best player in the world in your sport. Does that make you a loser? I don’t think so.
So it is with wine. These days, so much emphasis is placed on garnering gold medals that receiving a silver medal for a wine is barely considered special by some. And a bronze medal? Heck, that’s hardly even worth displaying.
Frankly, I don’t get it. Especially where subjectivity is involved — where a panel of judges decides whether a gymnast gets a 10 or a 9.9 for a performance, or a panel of wine judges decides that a wine is worthy of gold rather than a silver — I would be happy with any award.
True, it seems as if we remember only the gold medal winners. They are the athletes that get the big endorsement contacts, and the wines that get the coveted end-cap placement in wine stores.
But there are plenty of great athletes… and plenty of great wines… that are every bit as good as the gold medalists, but perhaps just didn’t “perform” as well on judging day.
Long story short: Do not dismiss a silver medal-winning wine, nor a bronze medalist for that matter. Given a different judging panel on a different day, it could very well have garnered gold.
Now, I’m going to pick a bottle to open while we watch tonight’s opening ceremonies. And I’m going to make a conscious decision to choose a bottle that did not win any gold medals.
I’m sure I will not be disappointed. If you prefer wines with top accolades, each link above will take you to a different medal-winning wine currently available through Vinesse.