Archive: December 26, 2009

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rodeo Pinot

Saturday,  12/26/09  08:12 PM

nothing is scarier than a clown, especially in your wine cellar...


blind wine tasting

Saturday,  12/26/09  08:35 PM

A couple weeks ago we hosted a blind wine tasting... it was great fun, a perfect excuse for a party.  Not that we ever need an excuse.  Anyway in the public interest I thought I'd document how we did it.  I make no claim that this is the only way to do it, or the best, but I can tell you it worked great and a wonderful time was had by all.

So here's the concept: everyone brings a bottle of wine, everyone's wines are tasted and rated "blind", and prizes are awarded for the winners.  In our particular case we told everyone they could bring any wine they liked so long as it cost no more than $20.  You may wish to restrict the kind of wines (reds, Pinots, etc.) and use a different dollar limit (or no limit!).

ready for tasting - blinded, opened, and labeled...

As everyone arrives, I take the bottles and wrap them in foil.  Then I pull the cork to let them breathe for a bit.  Wrapping bottles in foil doesn't blind them perfectly - you can still tell a lot from the bottle shape - but it is pretty good and really easy.  Each wine is labeled with a unique number; I use little tags which hang around the neck of the bottle.

tasting in progress - serious fun...

Next it's time for tasting!  Everyone doesn't have to taste every wine; they can just try whatever wines they like, and rate them, on a scale from 1-10.  Yeah, everyone won't have the same definition for a "7", but so be it; we all have a somewhat intuitive feel for rating stuff from 1-10, and it all averages out.

I made little scoresheets with the numbers of all the wines, as shown at left, and a box of cheap pens is helpful.  People don't have to put their names on the scoresheets (unless they want to get them back later :)  I encouraged everyone to try their favorite wines twice; that way they can refine their scores, and enjoy more of their favorites...

As people finish tasting they turn in their scoresheets (and again, everyone doesn't have to taste every wine).  We then compute the average score for each wine.  Yes there will be math.  If you have about thirty guests tasting about ten wines each, there will be so much math that you may wish to use a spreadsheet, as I did.  That makes it possible to compute the scores for each wine in realtime, and we actually had a crowd gathered around the laptop eagerly watching as the final scoresheets were tallied.  In our case about five wines were neck-and-neck, so the suspense was palpable :)  And then finally... the great unveiling.  Everyone gathers 'round as the top wines are revealed and those who brought the top wines are congratulated.  We gave our winners a Venturi Wine Aerator, but of course bragging rights are the real prize.

the winners are revealed...  and the crowd goes crazy

Finally the contestants are arranged in score order (the wines, not the guests) and everyone can take a look, and even take another taste.  Our winner was a Sonoma Zinfandel, second place was a Meritage from Napa, and third was a central coast Cabernet.  Fourth was a New Zealand Pinot; my own entry :)

Anyway it was so much fun, we'll probably do it again.  Good friends, good wine, and good fun; what could be better?


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