There are definitely good reasons for tasting wines blind and when done under proper conditions, the results can be very interesting and useful. However, other times, like the tasting I attended last night, can serve simply as abject self-humiliation – but are still great fun!
Last night’s remit was completely open – we were instructed to bring any bottle between £10-£200 – and considering most people were sommeliers and wine industry folk who would no doubt throw in some impossible wines to guess blind – we all knew it wouldn’t be straightforward. But we nonetheless accepted the challenge!
A few of the grape varieties were easier to pin down than others – the Pinot Noir was a dead give away, but the Sangiovese from the Swartland region of South Africa was a particular bastard (and probably only sussed by the person who brought the wine!).
This sort of tasting is purely for fun (if you like the sort of fun where you wonder why you put yourself through it!) and isn’t meant to be a serious judgment of the wines (or ourselves for that matter!). Follow @BlindMondays on Twitter to join in.
However, blind tastings can be extremely beneficial.
Wine critics often taste blind to avoid unfair partiality. As Thomas Matthews, Executive Editor of Wine Spectator said back in 2009:
“At Wine Spectator, we believe that a trained judge will reach the best assessments from blind tastings. Blind tasting is our guarantee to our readers that our judgments are not influenced by price or pedigree, that our reviews are free from any bias or conflict of interest. Every wine gets an equal chance to show its best and be evaluated on its own merits. Blind tasting is the methodology that best guarantees honesty and fair play.”
At the IWC (International Wine Challenge) where I’ll be judging again in April, we are told the grape variety (or if they are blends), vintage and country of origin. This way we can fairly evaluate the quality of each one individually without trying to figure out if we’re tasting Falanghina or Fiano.
But if you want to learn about wines, blind tasting isn’t the way to do it. You need to know what the wine is and where it’s from so you can start to make and build your associations with grape varieties and regions. By doing this you’ll learn more about your personal preferences and with that knowledge you’ll be more likely of finding other bottles that match your own tastes.
Have you been to a blind tasting? I’d love to hear your stories and opinions, please leave a comment below.
Here’s to trying something new, learning something new and enjoying every glass a whole lot more.
Tara – Wine Passionista