Tasting Blind

Often times, a teacher will use games as a way to make learning interesting for their students. I used one of my favorites the other night at a dinner party in which I served four wines in a blind tasting. The tasting consisted of the same varietal (Cabernet Sauvignon in this case) from different producers and at different price points. I know what you’re thinking; after four bottles, I would be blind too! No! In a blind tasting you cover the labels (I place the bottles inside brown paper bags) and number the bottles. After everyone has tasted and rated all of the wines, I then do the reveal including the price point of each wine.

Of course, you can serve more than four if you like, but I’ve found through experience that four is usually a good number in order to have a good time and not overwhelm everyone’s senses. I always find it fascinating listening to everyone describing the wines and judging which one or ones they like best.

The other night I chose two wines around $15 a bottle and the other two were under $5 per bottle. And as I have proven many times, wine does NOT have to be expensive to be good. Market force is what determines the price and not necessarily the quality of the wine. Some folks were surprised that they found they liked the under $5 wines, while others swore the $15 wines tasted like $60 wines. Oh, and did I mention that in my games there are NO wrong answers? Not that I subscribe to the everyone gets a ribbon mantra, but we’re all adults here with plenty of disappointing life experiences. Am I right? So, why not have a game where everyone can be right?

If this game of blind tasting sounds like fun and something you would be interested in trying, you don’t necessarily have to invite a large group of friends over for a dinner party. You can simply have a few close friends over for some wine and cheese and surprise them with a blind tasting. I’m pretty sure that everyone will have fun and may even learn a thing or two.

If you need help in choosing wines to include in your blind tasting, you can drop me a note [click here] and I will be pleased to offer some suggestions or you can ask your local wine shop for their suggestions. However, decide on how much you want to spend before going shopping. Some unscrupulous wine shop owners may try to talk you into serving some of their more expensive stock (higher markup of course), but most I’ve found will give you honest advice. Just stick to the price point you decided on before shopping. Keep in mind this should be fun for you also.

You should be able to pick up some brown paper bottle bags for free wherever you shop. Number the bags with a marker and place the bottles inside the bags before your guests arrive. I typically remove the caps or corks and cover the necks with foil. Then when I’m ready to pour, I simply remove the foil without revealing anything about the wine. Folks will try to get you to give them hints, but resist so as not to give anything away. You can use 3x5 cards or slips of paper and print the numbers 1 through 4 (if tasting 4 wines) and rating scale beside each number. I generally use 5 stars ⭐️ and have everyone circle the corresponding star (1 being the least and 5 being the most). I also include a space for guests to make notes if they desire.

And don’t think you have to stick with one varietal. You can change it up anyway you desire. Use your imagination, but don’t make it overly complicated. You want to make this a fun experience for your guests, not stress them with a Chem IV test.

My recommendation this month is a wine I served at the blind tasting the other night. It is a Simi Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma Valley California. You should be able to find it for around $15 a bottle. It was one of the ones that folks were thinking that it was a $60 wine. Pick one up, give it a try, and let me know [click here] what you think?

And please, please, remember, always drink responsibly and stay safe. I can’t afford to lose a friend. Yes, that means You!

Until next time, Cheers🍷