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wine gold medalThere are so many local, regional, national and international expos to determine the best wines-- it's hard to know where to begin!

The prestigious competitions are ones that are judged internationally such as the Decanter World Wine Awards held in London - which invites wine masters from 40-plus countries to decide on this year's best wines. So it's difficult to argue with a top wine designation that a majority agree upon.

But in recent years consumer-oriented wine competitions have also been organized by wine lovers, and are gaining ground in popularity. (What's the No. 1 wine in the world? It's the one YOU like best.)

Much like a serious wine tasting, a wine competition's main criteria is judging the perceived richness of taste and aroma. As a nod to the consumer side of the equation, some competitions take price into consideration when judging wines. All are traditionally done as a blind test so as not to add any bias to the proceedings.

American competitions usually use a 100-point system, while some competitions in Europe adopt the 20-point system. Many competitions also adopt a style similar to the Olympics with gold, silver and bronze medals awarded to the best of the bunch.

Due to the subjective merits of wine, say critics, not all winners are the wines that may deserve accolades. But the top choices at the best exhibitions are usually a good bet for a memorable wine or an investment level purchase.

More about wine awards & competitions around the Web:

What's the point of wine competitions? - Learn more about the wine industry with this thoughtful argument from a wine competition judge. And don't miss the comments for more insights on the business of wine.

Vinexpo - One of the major exhibitions has been in existence since 1981. Sponsored by the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the expo regularly draws more than 2,000 exhibitors from 47 countries, 50,000 visitors from 143 countries and 1,200 journalists and writers.

International Wine Competition – Vinitaly - Here are the current winners at this major annual competition along with related facts, figures, and a photo gallery..

Sydney International Wine Competition - This Australian competition pairs wines with food and provides recipes for the dishes used in the competition. Winners represent wines from all continents and all types of wine. Also provides details on upcoming events and online shopping for the wines that won awards.

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