Enter Awards

Join us in the 2024 Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards and be part of the 31st Anniversary of the Awards. Entries for 2024 Awards open 1 April 2024. Entering the awards offers the opportunity for national and international recognition and exposure in online and print media. National coverage appears in Qantas Magazine, Travel Insider, Drinks Trade and other local and national media.

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It was such an honour and a surprise to win Wine List of the Year 2022. The recognition from the industry and from new and old customers alike has been a huge boost for our team and venue. There is no other award recognition like Wine List of the Year, and I highly encourage any venue owner, sommelier or beverage director to seriously consider putting themselves forward for 2023.

Chris Walker - Cru Bar & Cellar, QLD
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Winning Wine List of the Year in 2018 was an outstanding personal achievement for myself, the response from the public was greater than expected and one of the proudest professional achievements of my career. The lustre and exposure for the restaurant was invaluable, I highly recommend entering this prestigious award!

Ian Trinkle - Aria, Brisbane
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Winning one of the most highly regarded awards in the wine industry is a real honour. It is an incredible feeling to know we have made it this far; it makes it even more exciting for the future. It has definitely increased our guest interest and we have had a lot of amazing feedback, which is carrying the wine passion at Jonah’s even further. Guests are enjoying the read as well as the wines and that is just a great achievement!

Niels Sluiman - Jonah's
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It's been really good for business. We've always been known as a destination for wine lovers and the award has now cemented that position for us. We've had customers come in and see the wine list and drink the wines because they've heard about the award and that definitely adds something special to the place.

Nick Hildebrandt - Bentley
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Winning the Wine List of the Year Award has legitimised a less-than-conventional, narrative-based approach to listing and selling delicious wine. I'm sure that other sommeliers with a song in their heart and a fierce yearning to tell stories will be heartened by our success and feel more confident in submitting their offering.

Grant Dickson - fermentAsian

Entries for 2024 Awards open 1 April 2024

Entering the awards annually is essential to retain your glass rating and listing in Australia's Wine List of the Year Award Best Lists. You can enter your list under different Categories each year. Choose one or more appropriate categories, and you are automatically entered for Best List for your Type of Venue, Best State List and the main award, Best Wine list of the Year. You can only win the main award once. The following year you secure your place in history with entry into the prestigious Hall of Fame. Achieving a listing in the Hall of Fame can also be done by winning best in a Category, State or Venue Type three times.

Make sure you are part of this important annual event, showcasing your list to some of the world's most respected local and international expert judges, including Master Sommeliers, Master of Wine, Sommeliers and Wine Communicators.

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See Award Categories

There are several categories that offer you a chance to win an award. Enter one or more categories that are appropriate to your list. You can change the category in following years to showcase your list's strengths in alternate areas.

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What you need to provide

You will need to supply PDFs of your wine list and your menu to see how your list compliments your cuisine. We will also require two high-resolution images of your venue. These should be attached with your submission.

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Complete your entry/submission

'Sign up' to register, or 'Sign in' to complete your submission. For 'Early Bird' entries received between Monday 1st April and Monday 29 April 2024, the fee is $220 + GST payable upon submission. For organisations submitting 5 entries or more, the fee is $200 ex GST payable upon submission. For Entries received from Tuesday 30th April up to Monday 13th May 2024, the Entry Fee is $250 ex GST.

Benefits for you and your business

Entering the Wine List of the Year Awards is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your offering, get constructive feedback and enjoy the recognition that comes with being an entrant or winner in these widely promoted Awards.

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Enhance your career

Be recognised by key influencers; your peers, the media, and consumers – your customers! Your success will be widely shared by AWLOTY through @QANTAS, @TravelInsider and @DrinksTrade media outlets, including coverage in traditional print and digital media. Tangible benefits – recognition that everyone can see!

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Get expert review

Every wine list entered that wins a Glass receives a professional review of your Wine List – its highlights and strengths, for publication. Also, every wine list entered receives confidential feedback from the judges as well, including potential suggestions to enhance your chances of achieving a higher-level award with your next entry.

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Promote your success

Display all the assets provided including Glass rating, Awards Certificate, Seal and experts Review. Full listing and details in AWLOTY Awards Website for 12 months plus all winners recognised in QANTAS Magazine / Travel Insider and Drinks Trade.

Main Awards

Australia's Wine List of the Year

This is awarded annually to the list considered by the International Jury (30 judges from Australia and around the world) to be the finest in the country. It may only be won once. The winner is then eligible for the Hall of Fame of Australia's Wine List of the Year Awards provided they maintain the high standard of their Wine List.

Judy Hirst Award

This award is presented annually to the sommelier responsible for Australia's Wine List of the Year - the Award is named in memory of the late Judy Hirst who, with Tucker Seabrook, established and managed the awards for the first decade following their inception in 1994.

Best Wine List State or Territory

All entering establishments are automatically entered in their applicable State or Territory.

Best Wine List: ACT

Best Wine List: NSW

Best Wine List: NT

Best Wine List: QLD

Best Wine List: SA

Best Wine List: TAS

Best Wine List: VIC

Best Wine List: WA

Best Wine List Venue Type

Australia’s Best City Restaurant Wine List

This award recognises the best wine list from restaurants located in metropolitan and suburban areas of Australian capital cities.

Australia’s Best Country Restaurant Wine List

This award recognises the best wine list from restaurants located in regional and rural Australia.

Australia’s Best Hotel Restaurant Wine List

Formerly ‘Best International Hotel Restaurant Wine List’, this award is open to boutique and major hotels alike.

Australia’s Best Pub Restaurant Wine List

This award covers casual hotel venues such as pubs and bars.

Australia’s Best Club Restaurant Wine List

This award is for wine lists from licensed club restaurants only.

Australia’s Best Wine Bar Wine List – the Fiona Macdonald Award

Lists from specialist wine bars are eligible for this award.

Best Wine List Category Awards

Australia’s Best New Wine List – the Tony Hitchin Award

Inaugurated in 2001, this award is named in memory of founding judge and respected wine writer, the late Tony Hitchin. Any licensed on-premise establishment that has been operating for 12 months or less is eligible for this award.

Australia’s Best Wine List – Maximum 50 wines

For establishments that list no more than 50 wines, this award focuses on carefully thought-out, impeccably balanced, compact lists.

Australia’s Best Wine List – Maximum 100 wines

For establishments that list no more than 100 wines, this award also focuses on carefully thought-out, impeccably balanced, slightly larger lists.

Australia’s Best Wine List – Maximum 200 wines

As the average of most award winning wine lists entered in the Awards is over 200 wines, this award caters for the change that has taken place in businesses due to COVID-19 and the trimmed-down nature of wine lists and cellars of the future. The Awards will now recognise those venues listing less than 50, 100 and 200 wines. 

Australia’s Best Food & Wine Matching List

An important part of being a sommelier is working with the chef to create food and wine matches that tantalise diners, transforming both the chosen wine and the dish in ways that make for a memorable dining experience. This award allows wine lists which dare to match food and wine to be rewarded. The judges expect that entrants will focus attention on a degustation menu where each dish is matched with an appropriate wine.

Australia’s Best Non-Alcoholic List

The award covers still and sparkling waters, mocktails, soft drinks, teas and increasingly juices and infusions. Judge, Mike Bennie, comments that, in many places, juices, kombuchas and bespoke soft drinks are created by the sommeliers, in close alliance with the kitchen. They steep, juice, pickle, cure and squeeze to get their final results which can add an almost precise texture, flavour and aroma to dishes.

Australia’s Best Listing of Wines by the Glass

The judges are looking for the establishment with the most imaginative and thoughtful collection of wines by the glass. A list that offers depth and breadth as well as an insight into the quality of the restaurant’s overall offering. Size of pour also plays an integral part in this award.

Australia’s Best Champagne List

A great Champagne list will be appropriate to the style and size of the restaurant which it serves. The various categories of Champagnes need to be considered – vintage, non-vintage and deluxe; rosé, blanc de blancs, blanc de noirs, sans dosage; Champagnes from the Grand Marque houses and from growers. The key is balancing these categories as well as what is available by the glass and by the bottle; youthful and aged bubblies; well-known houses and cutting edge producers.

Australia’s Best Sparkling List

The judges are looking for the list which offers the most interesting array of sparkling wines from Australia and around the world. The winner is likely to offer depth in its presentation of local bubblies – including vintage, non-vintage and roses and sparkling wines that have spent considerable time on lees. The best lists will showcase a breadth of bubblies from around the world.

Australia’s Best Aperitif List

There’s a wide-range of alcoholic beverages that are designed to whet the appetite: Champagnes and sparkling wines, cocktails and beers. Sherries (especially fino, manzanilla,and amontillado), vermouths, pastis and herb-flavoured liqueurs.

Australia’s Best Digestif List

Digestif are served after the meal to aid digestion. The possibilities are wide-ranging and include brandy, eaux de vie, bitter or sweet liqueurs and other distilled liquors, fortified wines such as port, and madeiras and spirits such as gin, vodka, tequila, cognac, bourbon, whisky, whiskey, rum, cachaça, armagnac, grappa, pisco and calvados.

Australia’s Best Cocktail List

Australians are seeking out and enjoying delicious cocktails made by our world class bartenders. A quality list will include classics, and/or subtle twists, alongside innovative creations showcasing local and seasonal ingredients. The design and layout of the list, including storytelling, as well as the commitment to sustainability are also key.

Australia’s Best Beer List

Whether on tap or available by the glass, every good restaurant will carry a good range of local beers as well as a clever selection of imported beers.

Australia’s Best Listing of a Single Region’s Wine

There is interest, like never before, in regionality. Much work has been done over the past decade to define and market the distinctive wine styles from particular wine regions, both Australian and international. Here the judges are looking for wine lists, or sections of wine lists, that provide a comprehensive insight into a wine region. The classiest regional lists will focus predominantly on the varieties that the region does best and will offer some of the finest vintages.

Australia’s Best Listing of Australian Wines

This award places local wines in an international context; showcasing our finest varietals, varietal blends; single site, regional and multi-regional blends; highlighting our finest young wines as well as offering more mature vintages to show how well these can age as well as presenting wines that offer excellent value for money at a range of prices.

Australia’s Best Listing of ACT Wines

Similar to the Best Listing of Australian wines, this award recognises the wines from regions of the Australian Capital Territory whilst at the same time celebrating the diversity of that state, what it does well, in addition to what it is seeking to explore and branch out into.

Australia’s Best Listing of NSW Wines

Similar to the Best Listing of Australian wines, this award recognises the wines from regions of New South Wales whilst at the same time celebrating the diversity of that state, what it does well, in addition to what it is seeking to explore and branch out into.

Australia’s Best Listing of SA Wines

Similar to the Best Listing of Australian wines, this award recognises the wines from regions of South Australia whilst at the same time celebrating the diversity of that state, what it does well, in addition to what it is seeking to explore and branch out into.

Australia’s Best Listing of QLD Wines

Similar to the Best Listing of Australian wines, this award recognises the wines from regions of Queensland whilst at the same time celebrating the diversity of that state, what it does well, in addition to what it is seeking to explore and branch out into.

Australia’s Best Listing of TAS Wines

Similar to the Best Listing of Australian wines, this award recognises the wines from regions of Tasmania whilst at the same time celebrating the diversity of that state, what it does well, in addition to what it is seeking to explore and branch out into.

Australia’s Best Listing of VIC Wines

Similar to the Best Listing of Australian wines, this award recognises the wines from regions of Victoria whilst at the same time celebrating the diversity of that state, what it does well, in addition to what it is seeking to explore and branch out into.

Australia’s Best Listing of WA Wines

Similar to the Best Listing of Australian wines, this award recognises the wines from regions of Western Australia whilst at the same time celebrating the diversity of that state, what it does well, in addition to what it is seeking to explore and branch out into.

Australia’s Best Japanese Sake List

Japanese Sake (Nihonshu) can fit all the different stages of the meal, and the best lists will be based on quality, style, regional and brand recognition and have varied styles such as sparkling, grade of Sake (Futsushu, Honjozo, Junmai, Ginjo: non-Junmai or Junmai and Daiginjo: non-Junmai or Junmai), first fermentation method (sokujo, kimoto, and yamahai), type and quality of rice used, cloudy (nigori), and aged (koshu). Different size formats, guidance on what to expect, all add to the appeal.

Australia’s Best Listing of French Wines

So many of the world’s greatest wines are sourced from France. So this award places the spotlight on its finest – Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux while not ignoring areas that have developed a cult following for maintaining their traditions: such as the Jura and Beaujolais. There are, too, the fascinating regional wines of the Rhone, the Loire, Alsace and many more. As always, the judges expect sommeliers to find a balance between the country’s finest and most expensive and the affordable.

Australia’s Best Listing of Italian Wines

Immigration has long given Italian wines a boost in Australia. At the top end, the prohibitive cost of the greatest wines of France have seen a surge in the popularity of Piedmont and Tuscany and world class Italian lists in Australia. While the cult wines of Sicily attract attention, the modestly priced country wines from all parts of Italy, with that plethora of indigenous varieties, are fascinating wine lovers, and sommeliers.

Australia’s Best Listing of Greek Wines

Greek wines offer a delightful journey through ancient vineyards and unique grape varieties. The best representations will include the most widely planted red grape variety, agiorgitiko, assyrtiko, which makes an admirable pairing with seafood;  and xinomavro with its impressive, powerful, dry reds. White varieties such as malagousia, savatiano and the aromatic moschofilero add to a range of indigenous varieties which are ideal with Mediterranean cuisine.

Australia’s Best Listing of the Wines of the USA

The strength of the American economy and the dollar, as well as the fanatical devotion of the locals to their finest wines, has meant that offering a selection of the USA’s best is no easy task. The expansion of plantings in Oregon and the quality of more newly-established regions in California such as Mendocino, Monterey and Santa Barbara offers additional challenges to sommeliers. Those wishing to offer a list with the best representation of the wines of the USA will need to look beyond the Napa and Sonoma for what is possible.

Australia’s Best Listing of New Zealand Wines

There can surely be no Aussie sommelier who doesn’t have firm views on their favourite New Zealand wines and be delighted with the opportunity to display them to their clientele. The best regions and stand-out varietals are as fiercely contested here as they are in their homeland.

Australia’s Best Listing of Australian Organic and Biodynamic Wines

This innovative award judges lists which include wines that are certified organic by a well-respected organisation such as ACO or NASAA, or biodynamic, in which case, the holistic nurturing of soil is prioritized and the vineyard is treated as a cohesive living entity. The best of these lists will present organic and biodynamic wines as part of a well-balanced offering.

Organic Wines are crafted from grapes cultivated organically and are grown without synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, or fungicides, prioritising environmental sustainability by maintaining a natural equilibrium in the vineyard and its environs.

Biodynamics prioritizes the holistic nurturing of soil and treats the vineyard as a cohesive living entity. Rooted in the philosophies of Rudolf Steiner, this approach aligns vineyard activities with the lunar cycle, dictating the timing of tasks like pruning and harvesting. Biodynamic practitioners also utilise specially prepared mixtures containing manure, fermented herbs, and minerals. http://grenum.com/au/australian-organic-biodynamic-wine-producers/

Australia’s Best Listing of Museum and Rare Wines

The contenders for this award will list a substantial number of the finest wines from excellent vintages of local producers as well as iconic wines from Australia and key wine producing countries around the world.

Australia’s Choice Award (Consumer)

This award is being introduced as an opportunity for Australia’s consumers to express their recognition and gratitude for their favourite sommeliers and venues. So many venues have been overwhelmed by the support they have continued to receive from their customers during the Covid pandemic and this Award gives those consumers a further opportunity to show their appreciation.

Wine List Service Award

A new category in 2022, this award recognises and rewards those venues and sommeliers who demonstrate that they understand the critical importance of carefully and professionally storing, ‘By the Glass’ preserving, and serving – in superior quality glassware, the wines on their Wine List.

To address this need they have invested significantly in –
– their temperature control / refrigeration infrastructure – for storing and serving their wines,
– their ‘Wine by the Glass’ preservation systems, and
– their Glassware.

(Note: Entering this Award is optional, and the score achieved has no impact upon a venue’s overall AWLOTY Awards score.)

Hall of Fame

Past Main Award Winners

Establishments can only win Australia’s Wine List of the Year Award once, but are still eligible to win any of the other Awards at least three times.

Three Time Award Winners: State/Territory, Class of Trade or Category Award

Once an establishment wins the same State/Territory, Class of Trade or Category Award three times, they will then be eligible for entry to the Hall of Fame.  While they cannot enter the same award again, they are still eligible for any other award.

In all of the above cases, the successful establishments will each year be recognised and listed in the Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards – Hall of Fame, providing they enter and maintain their Glass Rating each year.

Individual Awards

This prestigious award is presented periodically to recognise an outstanding individual and their contribution to education and the service of fine wine within the Australian Hospitality and Tourism Industries over recent times – with a major beneficiary of this contribution being the standard of wine lists of Australia.

 

Judging the Awards

The Judging Process

Our total International judging panel comprises an accomplished group of over 30 wine industry professionals, wine communicators and sommeliers. These include several Master Sommeliers and Masters of Wine from Australia and around the world.

They are all experienced professionals who approach their work with a sense of responsibility and professionalism thus ensuring that impartiality is a key consideration in the judging process.

Their mission is to reward wine lists that elevate the dining experience.

During the first stage of the judging process, lists are allocated to the Australian Judging Panel: wine writers, sommeliers, wine judges and other experienced professionals who work in the hospitality industry.

Each list is rated on its content, balance, suitability to the venue, presentation and pricing.

Judges are not allocated lists from their home states.

Each list is judged by a pair of judges; both assess independently and confidentially, without being aware of the identity of the other judge.

Judges raw scores are added to determine ratings; however, these can be moderated by the Chairman of Judges working with the Deputy Chairs if the gap between the two independent judges’ judgements is significant.

Rating

Each entering establishment is given a rating:

 Three glasses (outstanding)

Two glasses (excellent)

One glass (recommended)

There are a small number of establishments which do not meet our basic standards and these are not given a glass rating.

The final stage of judging calls on the International Jury: a distinguished group of Australian and International wine personalities including Master Sommeliers, Masters of Wine, sommeliers, wine judges, and food and wine writers; plus all members of the Judging Panel.

They are given information about the restaurant, the wine list, and menu for each of the top six Australian lists and are asked to rank these. The winner becomes Australia’s Wine List of the Year.

The national winners of each of the other Major Awards are decided by a rigorous and fair system. Raw scores determine the top lists in each category.

To ensure no restaurant is disadvantaged by tougher marking, these highest scoring lists are moderated by the Chairman of Judges working with the Deputy Chairs in determining finalists and winners for each award.

Once a restaurant has achieved the top accolade of winning Australia’s Wine List of the Year, they are unable to win the top award again however are inducted into the Hall of Fame the following year where they are able to remain – provided their list retains its high standard and continues to enter the Awards.

Winners of this major award are however eligible to enter other categories and win additional key awards.

Restaurants that win any Major Award category three times are also precluded from winning that category Award a fourth time however they then achieve Hall of Fame status as well – provided they maintain their standard and enter the Awards.

To retain Glass Ratings all restaurants must enter each year.

What are the Judges looking for?

Content

  • Quality is key to choice of wines
  • Having an original and innovative choice, with some mature wines from good vintages, avoiding poor vintages
  • Carefully matching varieties and regions
  • Having an appropriate variety of wines by the glass
  • Adequate list of aperitifs, beers, spirits, liqueurs and waters/non-alcoholic

Balance

  • Balance of pricing relevant to your establishment
  • Domestic and imported wines, regions and wine styles

Suitability

  • To cuisine, style and image of establishment

Presentation

  • Includes vintages
  • Accurate and consistent presentation of information
  • Clear design for easy navigation

Pricing

  • Appropriateness, value

Download Judging Criteria

Who are the judges?

The hard work of judging Australia’s Wine List of the Year Awards is the responsibility of an extraordinary selection of Master Sommeliers and Master of Wine together with additional expert sommeliers, chefs, wine makers, wine judges and wine and food writers from Australia and around the World. Led by Chairman of Judges, Peter Forrestal and Deputy Chairs, Toni Paterson MW and Jeni Port, this selection is further divided into two groups – the Judging Panel and the International Jury.

MORE ABOUT THE JUDGES

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