June 5, 2019 |
Tips on Throwing a Blind-Tasting Party
Tasting wines completely blind is one of the most humbling things you can put yourself through especially if you consider yourself somewhat of a connoisseur. When we open a bottle of wine, pull a barrel sample, or step up to a familiar tasting bar we bring all sorts of baggage with us that effects our perception of what we're about to taste and makes it impossible to be unbiased. For example, in the winery, if we walk up to a barrel that's holding our favorite varietal from our favorite vineyard site and the specific barrel producer is one that we love we've already decided our opinion of the wine before even taking a sip. We constantly go through and taste blends and barrel samples blindly to make sure that we're critically and fairly judging all of our wines.
Here are some tips for you and your friends to throw your own blind-tasting party!
- Leave all egos at the door! Bounce ideas off of eachother and no making fun of descriptors or people's opinions. Tasting blind is a learned skill and takes a lot of practice.
- Choose a theme. Whether it's tasting 5 different Syrahs from all over the world, white wines with different sugar levels, WA cabs vs. old world cabs, red blends at different price points, etc... pick a theme and stick to it so that you can make meaningful comparisons between the wines and learn from them.
- Pool all your money together and have 1 person lead the tasting.
- Combinging $ will help you in buying multiple bottles
- If you rely on people bringing their own wines you'll get too much variety and the price points may be all out of whack
- Having 1 person host the tasting means they can ask leading questions + keep all of the wines organized. The host can also ask people specific questions to get them involved in the discussion.
- Use paper bags, pre-pour all of the wines, or use decanters so people don't cheat! For example Fidelitas bottles are a hair taller than most so they're a dead giveaway in a tasting even when covered up.
- Use wine evaluation templates as a guide. The Court of Master Sommeliers has some great resources: https://www.mastersommeliers.org/resources
- Make sure to have plenty of stemware. It really helps to taste the wines side-by-side.
- Make sure to have plenty of snacks and water to cleanse your palate.
- Enjoy yourself, it's just wine. Too often I've been to tasting groups where people don't leave their egos at the door and are too critical of others or themselves and take things too seriously. At the end of the day the point is to learn and drink wine with your friends!