Over the weekend I hosted a Blind Wine Tasting and dinner with some friends who all enjoy a good glass of wine. Some of us have been known to enjoy a not-so-good glass of wine, but that’s another story. We had fun, it was enlightening, and I think we had a few surprises.
Everyone was instructed to bring two bottles of a favorite red wine, one to open and taste and the second bottle would be used for a prize. We set a price limit of $25 or less per bottle but could just have easily set a lower range — again, part of the fun of a blind tasting. The person whose wine scored the highest would take home the top scored wines, and the second and third place winners would take home the remaining bottles.
We had a range of wines from France, Italy, Portugal, Argentina and California. Everyone brought their wine in a plain brown paper bag and then we numbered them so no one knew what was in each bag. I printed scorecards so as we tasted each bottle, we could rate each wine and make note of a word to describe it. Bonus points went to anyone who could guess the varietal and the country of each wine.
The wines ranged in price from around $6 to $20. As we tallied up the scores and then revealed the ratings, I think many of us were very surprised by the collective common likes and dislikes. But everyone was a good sport and we learned some lessons, mostly that it was a great way to have fun, enjoy some wine and food, and that you have to be sure to keep drinking water.
I found lots of great ideas on Pinterest and used this link for my Scorecard idea. Since the one in this link only had room for six wines and we had seven, I recreated the Scorecard to look like the one above. And trust me, it was really fun to keep these and read them again the next day.
Here’s some detail on the top three scored wines:
Because we were having fun and enjoying each other’s company, we spent well over two hours just tasting wine so we sat down much later than planned for dinner. So be sure to have lots of nibbles like cheese, crackers and olives on hand, along with water! And don’t be afraid to use a dump bucket. I thought my friend Dave was going to have a heart attack when the first person poured out the remainder of a wine she had tasted and did not want to finish. We learned to pour smaller tastes to avoid wastage.
So if there are any rules to follow when tasting wine, here are mine:
- The first rule is there are no rules.
- Don’t be afraid to taste lots of different wines. That’s the best way to learn.
- Drink What You Like. Forget “white wine with fish, red wine with meat.” Try different wines with different foods and see what appeals most to you. A Pinot Noir with Thanksgiving Dinner or with salmon is a beautiful thing.
- Make notes on what you like or you’ll never remember the wine the next day, let alone what you thought about it.
- Be sure to eat something before you begin tasting, as well as during the tasting. My friend Sharon can attest to what a mistake it can be to start tasting on an empty stomach.
Have you ever been to a wine tasting or hosted one? Any tips to share with the rest of us? Leave a comment and let us know. And for your next fun party, maybe you’ll try this idea. After all, I’ve never been to a wine tasting where I didn’t have fun! What’s not to like?