“Yes, as a matter of fact, I am blind,” said the wine tasting as the people filed into the room at the sight of wine bottles wrapped in paper brown bags. The wine novices sat down in bewilderment. They were wondering why the bottles were wrapped. “Welcome to your first blind wine tasting,” the tasting exclaimed. “But what is a blind wine tasting?” one of the humble novices asked.
The tasting explained it… “Good question. A blind tasting is a wine tasting in which instead of knowing what you’re drinking to begin with, you examine it’s characteristics by smelling its aromas, sampling its flavors, discussing with the entire group what you think it smells/tastes like and in the end, hopefully are able to identify what it is you’re tasting.”
The novices gasped in fear. “No way, man. How do you expect us to figure all that out when we don’t’ even know what to look for?”
“Another great question,” said the tasting. “Just know that today, all we are going to try to do is identify what kind of wine this is.
In an actual blind tasting, you not only have to identify the wine, but you also must identify the country, region, the district where it’s from and in some cases, the exact latitude and longitude coordinates of the vine the grapes came from.”
The novices’ eyes went wide. “OK, that last part was bull shit, but to become a sommelier, you basically have to do all the rest of that.”
Sighs filled the room.
“You will be given cheat sheets” the tasting added, “that give you common tastes/smells of red and white wines and cheeses/foods they go with and from this sheet and discussion with the group, you just might be able to pull this off easier than you think. Know also that any wine with characteristics you see on your cheat sheets WILL be wines that we have here tonight. For example, you won’t have characteristics for a Merlot if it’s not in the mix here.”
“Only one thing is required” the tasting continued. “Your desire to learn about it. You’ve all come here because you’re curious about wine and want to learn a little more about it. We are all in the same boat…nobody’s tastes will be wrong. Wine is the most complex beverage on earth and tastes different to everyone. Anyone can do this, and at the end, you’ll be one of those people.”
The novices’ dispositions had gone from tense to easy and they seemed anxious to get started to see just how their palates measured up.
“Is everybody ready?” the tasting shouted. “Then let’s play the Feud.”
The novices giggled but some of the younger folks looked at the tasting in bewilderment again. “I have a thing for game shows,” the tasting said. “Google the name Richard Dawson and you’ll see what I mean.”
There were 6 wines all of which were concealed by the paper bags. All they knew about the wines to this point is that there were 3 whites and 3 reds and they would begin with the whites. “Lightest to heaviest, even in the world of wine novices, this is the best way to go as opposed to the other way around.”
The evening progressed and ended with an average 2-4 wines being identified correctly. The tasting was amazed but could not have been happier. And the novices? Wait, what do you mean, novices? Nobody in the room was a novice anymore.
The tasting announced…“The 4 people who identified 4 wines have just done what many professionals going for their masters of wine have failed to do close to 80% of the time. And the ones who identified at least 2, have done what the professionals have failed to do about 30-40% of the time. And for those who identified none…did you at least enjoy what you were drinking?”
“Hells yeah,” came up from the FORMER novices.
OK, this is the Wine Layman here with you to explain just what the above story was all about. The novel style of writing ends now – it’s now just me and you.
The point of the story is, blind wine tasting is something that gets right to the heart of learning how to taste wine and helps you realize what agrees with your taste buds and what doesn’t. Blind tasting competitions have proven even the foremost experts wrong throughout the years because even their taste buds couldn’t tell the difference between wine made in France or California.
It’s just my opinion but with all the perception that surrounds wine, isn’t it better when you have no idea what it is you’re tasting? Besides, what’s to lose?
Through my experience, it can be empowering too if you’re able to identify a couple. Make sure you have cheat sheets on hand – which Home Wine Tasting HQ happens to provide. If you only like a particular brand or only a particular type of wine, I will bet counterfeit money that a blind tasting will expand your wine horizons.