I put it on Facebook. Would anyone be interested in attending a wine party if I hosted? I got enough interest to have one and a couple weeks ago, 6 others and I tasted wines on a cool grey summer Vancouver afternoon at my place.
The focus of the day was varietal characteristics. Everyone emailed me what varietal they would be bringing (I requested no blends). We started off the party sniffing common aromas found in the wine we’d be tasting. I have a kit Le Nez Du Vin that has vials containing 54 of the most common scents you’d find in wines.
The intention was to help guests with their descriptions when it came time to discussing smells and tastes. Most people enjoy wine, but pinpointing a wine’s characteristics and understanding what it is that makes a wine so-so or so fabulous! can be difficult. With understanding comes appreciation and with that comes even more enjoyment when you’re having a glass.
The blind tasting session was a hit!
How Guests Guessed
Fortunately, I had just enough ISO glasses for everyone to use. I got them to guess what the wine was through deduction. That’s how blind tasting works. You note the characteristics in what you see, smell and taste and you reason, well it’s this colour, so it could be this, this and this. But it can’t be this because I smell this, this, this and this, so that means it could be either this or this. I taste this, this, this and this. Eventually, through the process of elimination you come to a conclusion on what wine you think it is.
Wine Varietals Tasted
On the list of wines we tasted were: Red Burgundy (Pinot Noir from France), Zinfandel from California (we also pulled out another Zin I already had opened that was made with grapes fro a smaller to compare the two), Shiraz from Chile, Malbec from Argentina, Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile.
Everyone had fun and took away at least one learning point that day. There were some general responses like learning about the typical characteristics of each wine and learning about which region produces the best wines for each varietal we tried. We tried a Shiraz from Chile and nobody guessed what it was. I have to admit, I never would’ve guessed it was a Shiraz either. It didn’t have the spiciness or black pepper. That’s when we started discussing what regions make what well, what they’re known for. That was the first time I tasted a Shiraz from Chile.
Some specific learning points:
- it was neat to learn that Beaujoulais and Burgundy and Gamay and Pinot Noir are much the same grape [respectively].
- it was fascinating that ‘old world’ wines would be earthier and ‘new world’ grapes more fruity.
- wine really changes the taste of food (we tried wines with white cheddar, french bread, and chocolate)
- the meaning of tannins (tannins is the coating you feel in your mouth, like when you drink black tea. It contributes to the structure of a wine)
Everyone also enjoyed that they got to taste different wines in one sitting in a relaxed environment. Hosting this was good for me. It got me talking about wine which is a good way for me to retain what I learn and I also learn more as I expose myself to more wines. So you want to learn more about wine? Have a wine party, and if you’re nearby, please invite me!