Oh man oh man. Feast. That was another amazing year filled with insane amounts of food and drinks. I am now on detox. Sleep, hydration, exercise and healthy food. That’s the agenda this week. A massive recap will be coming next week!
Today I want to share with you an awesome blind wine tasting I coordinated to celebrate my good friend Rachel’s 30th birthday. I had thought it would be fun to cover up the label, not know how much the wine cost and just see what was the favorite based on taste and taste alone.
I purchased 5 bottles of white wine of various price points, styles and regions. After covering up all the bottles in paper bags, I enlisted Brice’s help to uncork them and mix them up and label the bags with numbers 1 through 5. That way, I also wouldn’t know which was which and could play along.
We then sampled each wine and wrote down what we thought the style was (eg: chardonnay, pinot gris, etc.), the retail price of the wine, and ranked the wines to our liking. Points were awarded for correct answers, with bonus points for extra info like winery or vintage. The winner got a gift certificate to CorksCru, an excellent wine shop nearby.
Wines we selected:
I wanted to go with some variety but nothing too difficult that people couldn’t guess on their own, like want everyday wine drinker would guess a “vermentino”? So I instead I picked a dry riesling, pinot grigio, chardonnay and a blend. The one really weird, oddball choice was a fruit-infused wine from Hawaii since that is where the birthday girl is from.
- Domaine Leon Boesch Riesling ($18)
- Charles Shaw Pinot Grigio ($2.99)
- Island Mana Mango White Wine ($30)
- Sokol Blosser Evolution ($14.99 – Rachel’s boyfriend works for Sokol Blosser and they have a decent amount of this wine so we wanted to test her knowledge and see if she could guess it without a label)
- Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Chardonnay ($22)
It was a blast seeing what people’s thoughts were without any influence from the labeling or price point to drive our decisions. Without anything but taste to go off of, it turns out I selected the “Two Buck Chuck” Charles Shaw from Trader Joe’s as my top pick. At $2.99 a bottle, turns out I’m a cheap date!
One thing we realized was that while it is interesting not having any preconceptions, without having any idea of what to expect, it is hard to prepare your taste buds. Like have you ever taken a sip of what you thought was water but turned out to be milk, or something like that? Even if you like both, not knowing what you’re going to consume is a bizarre experience! With that in mind, some wines like the mango wine improved once we knew what we were having.
What you need to host one of these parties:
- 5 different wines, preferably all whites or all reds
- Paper bags to cover up the wines
- Mini shot glasses for tastings: I found this was better than wine glasses so people could try multiple wines at the same time. Plus it limited people from accidentally drinking five glasses in a short sitting!
- Form for everyone to fill out their guesses and rank their favorites: I printed some fun cards for the occasion using Overnightprints.com
Other useful tips:
- Don’t spend all the money yourself. Request that guests contribute an appropriate share to offset the cost of the wines (for our group, I set a budget of $100 for all 5 wines and had the 10 guests contribute $10 each.
- Utilize your local wine shop! If I was to do this again, I would definitely pick all of the wines from CorksCru wine shop. My fear of wine shops is usually that the costs will be way too high for my price range. But CorksCru has wines anywhere from $10 to much higher, with a lot in the $15-20 range, so getting a variety of price points is easy there. Their super friendly staff was excited to help me choose a wine that would be good and fun for the game – a dry riesling since so many people think of that kind of wine as really sweet. I already had the other 4 bottles when I show up but I would love to see what they would have suggested for all 5.