A professor of oceanography and statistics (an odd combo - but at least the second is relevant) who also happens to own a small winery in California's Humboldt County decided to study wine competitions after seeing his own wines win in some events and yet get no awards in others. He has upset many by discovering that this alarming inconsisitency in the way his own wines were rated was the norm. His suggestion that the competitions were pretty self serving has not gone down well in the sunshine state!
It is interesting to compare with the UK's own International Wine Challenge, where not only is it the world's biggest competition but anecdotally is fairly consistent. The stupidity is that the long embargo on the results often means that the wine has changed considerably since it was judged and in one or two cases sold out! The add- ons of Wine Merchant of the Year are though similarly self serving, indeed companies propose themselves in true unbiased fashion! The panoply of competitions is however likely to be much enhanced if the BMA get their way for a ban on alcohol advertising. This would be one of the minor drawbacks of what would otherwise be a very good thing. Alcohol probably needs to be made more serious..