I’ve done a fair share of wine tastings over the years, but I recently tried something new to me: blind wine tasting. Blind wine tasting takes the art of sipping to a whole new level, challenging your palate and knowledge by removing the labels and forcing you to rely solely on your senses. When Justin Ferguson invited me to his blind wine tasting event at The Len, I was thrilled to try it!
What Is Blind Wine Tasting?
Blind wine tasting is exactly what it sounds like: you evaluate and analyze the wine without knowing its identity, producer, or origin. It’s a way to objectively assess the wine’s characteristics without preconceived notions influenced by brand or reputation. Blind tasting is a great way to sharpen your tasting skills and learn how to identify different grape varieties, regions, and vintages.
Justin provided us with a tasting sheet, one for the whites and one for the reds, that helped us know what to look for — like possible flavor notes, aromas, color, and more. It was a helpful guide to teach us how to explore the wine and gave us some helpful hints along the way.
Why Try a Blind Tasting?
- Eliminates Bias: Blind tasting removes the influence of labels, brands, and price tags, ensuring that your judgment is solely based on the wine’s merits.
- Enhances Sensory Skills: By relying solely on your senses, you become more attuned to the wine’s aromas, flavors, textures, and overall characteristics. I felt like I had a much better understanding of how to taste wine after this class.
- Develops Wine Knowledge: Blind tasting helps you expand your wine knowledge as you learn to identify grape varieties, regions, and winemaking techniques through experience. Obviously, I’m a long way off from being able to determine specifics about a wine just from tasting it, but I think I can get a lot closer to identifying the variety with the skills I learned!
- Improves Palate: Repeated blind-tasting exercises can sharpen your palate and make you a more discerning wine taster.
- It’s fun: I really liked Justin’s approach to wine tasting. He made it feel unfussy and laid back. I think we all learned a lot and we had a great time doing it!
My Experience with a Blind Tasting
For this tasting, we sipped on three reds and three whites. For the very first wine, we analyzed it in the glass. We stared, swirled, and sniffed, discussing what we noticed about the wine. What color was it? A purple-red? More of a garnett color? What could we learn by swirling? What did we notice from smelling the wine? We went through multiple steps before actually tasting the wine.
Once we started tasting, we shared what we noticed about the wine. Did it taste the way it smelled? Did we like it? What kind of notes were we picking up? We continued this pattern with the next two red wines. It got a bit easier as it felt like we had more to compare things to as we sampled the other wines.
Eventually, we each guessed the type of wine we were sipping on. Since none of us were experienced sommeliers, we didn’t try to guess the region or vintage or anything like that. But it was fun to try to guess the type of wine based on the clues we had. I have to admit, I didn’t get very many right, although I did get close!
Then, we moved on to the white wines, following similar steps. It was fun, sipping and guessing. I tend to reach for white wines more than reds, so I really enjoyed learning about the typical tasting notes of red wines. I also found it really helpful to know what notes to avoid based on wine varieties I’m not as fond of.
This was such a fun way to experience wine and I loved learning specific skills for wine tasting. I think this would be a really unique activity to do with friends instead of a traditional dinner party or holiday party. If you’re interested in trying it, grab your tickets for Justin’s next blind wine tasting on November 18th, and be sure to follow him on Instagram to find out about other events!