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How do we find the Top Drops?

For the 19th year the New World Wine Awards has found the Top 50 drops under $25 and made them available for you to share and enjoy.  

Expert judges have swirled, sniffed, sipped, tasted and debated over a thousand different wines to find the Top 50 drops under $25.

This year 144 wineries from New Zealand and overseas entered more than 1,100 wines into the 19th annual New World Wine Awards. A focus on affordable and available wines means every entry must retail for $25 or less and have plenty of stock available. The 50 highest-ranked wines are then sold through New World stores nationwide*.   

The New World Wine Awards are judged over three full days by an independent panel of experts, including winemakers, industry professionals and even wine scientists! Meanwhile, back of house, the integrity of the judging process is maintained by an experienced Chief Steward who oversees robust procedures to manage all of the wines and ensure no judge tastes their own wine if entered into the competition.  


All wines are blind tasted. This means the judges were never aware of any brands and never see any bottles. They judge the wine in the glass on the day, knowing only the variety, vintage and country of origin.

Each wine is assessed using the same internationally recognised 100-point system used at other leading wine shows, which benchmarks entries against what a perfect wine should be like. A Gold medal wine in these awards is a superb example of its type and you can hold it to the same expectations as a Gold medal wine from other respected awards. 

During judging, wines are grouped together by variety (eg Sauvignon Blanc) and presented to the judges as a ‘flight’. A panel of three judges individually assess and score each wine in their flight and then convene to discuss their findings and re-taste the top Gold and Silver wines. These re-poured wines are randomised and recoded to ensure every wine is treated equally.

Once the Gold medal winners are agreed by the panel, these wines are again randomised and recoded for the senior judges to rank the wines. This ranking determines the wines that go into the Top 50. At the final stage of judging, the full judging panel convene to taste the top three ranked wines in each variety and to award the ten Champion wines. 


To receive a Gold medal, a wine will have been tasted and graded at least 19 times by 11 different judges. The Champion wines go through the further and incredibly robust process of being tasted at least 36 times – all the judges have tasted them and agreed on these top drops! 

In addition to the senior judging team, there are a number of Associate Judges or ‘judges in training’ that have the opportunity to learn to evaluate wines alongside the professionals. New World offers this opportunity to Liquor Managers and store owners with an interest and passion for wine, and through scholarships in partnership with NMIT and New Zealand Winegrowers.  It's an incredible experience to spend three days in the company of some of the country’s best-known winemakers, judging, discussing and analysing the wines in the competition. The Associates provide a score and opinion on each wine, but their scores don’t count towards the final mark. 

judging wine glasses

If you enjoy logistics, 21 pallets of wine, glasses and equipment were trucked into The Marlborough Events Centre in Blenheim for the judging. All wine bottles are kept away from the judges in a separate room, called the backroom, which is lined with over 100 trestle tables. A team of 12 stewards, lead by the Chief Steward, set up over 4,400 bottles of wine on these trestles, in their correct positions, in a single day. Each bottle is checked at least 5 times before being opened to ensure it’s the right wine and vintage being judged. Stewards use over 2,000 Speigelau wine glasses – they pour the wine into the glasses in the backroom and then carry the glasses on trays to the judging room, walking 15 to 20km a day serving and clearing wines.

* New World Wine Awards Top 50 wines are priced at $25 or less until 7 November 2021. After this time the retail price may vary. Top 50 award winning wines are available in New World stores nationwide, except those in Licensing Trust areas. Top 50 wines are available while stocks last.