Observing the room I listen in to the conversations relating to the freshly poured wine ‘C’. Complementary positives from one corner of the room about the crisp bold flavour, but no more than a couple of strides away the same wine is described as over-powering and harsh...
I am not really surprised. My personal view and that of my co-host (and wife) would be equally polarised on this wine. I enjoy this classical Australian Chardonnay because of all its robust flavours and heavy oak texture whereas by contrast, my wife would choose almost any other white wine over this style.
But this is the beauty of wine; you like what you like and people’s opinions and tastes differ considerably.
This is why I enjoy blind wine tasting in particular. There is no information guiding my thought process. I am not telling myself that I should like this wine based on the information on the bottle because I usually like wines made from this grape, or from this region; or even because it is expensive. My opinion is formed from a casual look in the glass as I swirl its contents, an intake of its aroma and then my taste buds finalise my decision.
But this is a Suspicious Wines tasting event and there is a distinct twist. Before we reveal the wine that everyone one has been tasting we ask participants/players to fill in scorecards as they guess details about the wine they have been sampling.
From just sight, smell and taste can they guess the continent and country the wine originated? A point is scored for each, and two others if they can distinguish the grapes the wine is made from, and whether or not it is a blend or a single style.
Cheers, groans, gasps and who’d have thought that as the players are informed of the details of wine ‘C’, (Australasia, Australia, Single Variety, and Chardonnay). Everyone also gives their personal score out of 5 to each wine tasted so the favourites on the night can be established.
As the night wears on everyone becomes more animated about the wines, the game, and it’s heartening to see everyone joining in and interacting with their new found wine drinking companions. The night is certainly going well, any early evening nerves have settled. I am hopeful that Wine D is going to go down well even though I expect few people to guess correctly it is a Carignan; but some gain points from listing as being from Europe, and France in particular. However this was a wine I wanted to share as I believe it’s fantastic for its price and hopefully I can encourage people to try something different. But this is wine, and I am quickly learning not everyone in the room will share the same opinion.
As the night draws to a close a winner is announced to a round of applause. I was delighted that my recently discovered wine D, the Carignan was deemed favourite on the night.
And I even stepped out of my comfort zone to give my first ever interview; https://thechesterblog.com/2017/04/18/suspicious-wine-tasting/
You can also read a taster's view of this particular night here; https://wearechester.co.uk/2017/04/19/review-suspicious-wines-tasting-event-in-chester/
No two nights are ever the same, the different mix of people and wine always alter the wine tasting experiences which have given some fascinating insights.
Probably the biggest surprises are how poorly some of the most expensive wines have performed. At our second tasting a traditional Bordeaux blend (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) received much lower reviews than you would expect, and at our last tasting the wine that was considered the best overall was a Supermarket Malbec that can be bought for £5!
Most satisfying is the fact that friendships are formed very quickly and this was most in evidence at the third event when long after the tasting had finished everyone remained in the room chatting and drinking, proving that the interaction is as much the part of the night, as the game.
Other personal positives included discovering people had started to drink wines we had introduced to them on the night, and when we used wines from 6 different continents on the second tasting.
Maybe those on the other side of the pour will have viewed these nights differently, but this is what we have learned from hosting our Blind Wine tasting Game;
1. Great nights can be shared with strangers over a glasses of wine
2. Everyone’s taste in wine is different
3. More expensive does not always mean better
4. Deducing where a wine comes from is difficult unless you drink that style regularly
5. There is a satisfaction in guessing answers correctly
If you would like to join us in the last of the series of tasting game nights, find out more here: