We all know someone who’s a wine snob, amiright? He won’t drink wine that’s less than $30/bottle or she doesn’t like chardonnay. It's too "oakey."
A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a blind-wine tasting party for my co-workers. The point to a blind wine tasting is to get over these judgments. No one knows what brand or grape he or she is drinking, or the price. Every time I’ve done this, we’ve been surprised at the results.
Surprisingly, it went really well! We didn’t just get stupid drunk (until the end anyway) and nobody called in sick the next day. Win-win. My friend Kristin is an aspiring sommelier and she gave us a few things to consider as we tasted, like color, legs, holding it up to the light, what to look for in a finish, smell, etc. We all walked away with a new wine we liked (brand or grape), and at a reasonable price point.
Want to host a tasting yourself? Here’s a step-by-step guide.
Brown-bagged wineCreate a tasting sheet. Using trusty Excel, I created a tasting sheet for guests to score the wines. Across the top, I put space for wine color, aroma, taste/flavor and finish. I also included a column for Overall Quality Score, Tasting Notes and a spot for the guests to ask the price. Down the left hand side, I wrote “Wine #1” and so on.
Create a key. Since I was the host, when guests arrived, they gave me their wine, which I put into a numbered brown bag. They told me the type of wine and the price point, which I wrote down in the key. I did not reference the key until later, so that I wouldn’t know anything, either.
Provide food. I supplied a variety of dips, crackers, cheeses, meats, etc. These are essential when drinking copious amounts of wine, and also come in handy when cleansing the palette.
Quite the spread, no?
Don’t forget a spit jar and water. To my dismay, not everyone wants to drink every drop of wine in their glass, even if they don’t like it. Keep a pitcher on hand for guests to pour out wines if they don’t want to finish the pour.
Spit jar and water on the right!
Discuss wines! What I loved about our group is that we all genuinely tasted the wines. We smelled, held it up to the light, took turns guessing the grape variety and had thoughtful discussions about the wine. Granted some of the discussions were “This smells like wet dog,” but others were about how we detected chocolate or banana in the aroma.
Guess and reveal. Once we tasted all of the wines, we took a vote on our favorite white and our favorite red, and then guessed how much those cost. I got out my trusty key, and for each wine, everyone guessed what the grape was and how much it cost. Most of the time, we were wrong, but it was still a blast.
Drink up and enjoy! Once our favorites were revealed, we drank the remaining wine — all 15 bottles and had the best time. But be careful not to spill, as witnessed below.
The results of our tasting were fascinating. We had a range of wines, from $2.99 up to $19.99. Both of our favorite wines were $3.99 from Trader Joe’s. Our second favorite was $19.99.
Below are the wines if you’re interested. I swear by the Vinas Chillenas…it’s always in my fridge and I even served it at the wedding!