A team of expert judges have began swirling, sniffing and sampling the best wines in the country, searching for winners in this year's Air New Zealand Wine Awards.

Now in its 27th year, 1380 wines need to be tested by the international wine connoisseurs over the next two days at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.

Chief judge, Michael Brajkovick, said this year's wines are the best yet.

"This competition is just that little bit better than in the past, and that's great, that's the evolution of the business and the evolution of the New Zealand wine," he said.


"It's important that a wine competition like this maintains standards, so in order to gain gold awards here, then wine needs to be outstanding."

This year the teams of judges feature international experts from Sweden and the US.

Californian pro, Dan Berger, said he's most excited by Hawkes Bay wines.

"As soon as we start seeing those wines in the US it will be a revolution," he said.

The winners will be named at a gala dinner in Queenstown on November 23.

- www.nzherald.co.nz