An at-home blind tasting can be an exciting new way to taste wine and socialize. It not only allows you to discover wine you wouldn’t usually try, but also allows you to do so with an unbiased eye. The goal of a blind tasting is to cover the bottle so that the price, label, country and varietal become a mystery. It’s a great way to get friends to sit around and talk about the greatest liquid on earth: wine.
What you’ll need
-eight to 12 wine loving friends
-one wine bottle per guest, which they provide
-one wine glass per person
-one water glass per person
-one pitcher of water or sparkling water
-one empty bucket to spit, or to discard the water after you rinse your glass
-brown paper bags to cover each bottle (ask at your liquor store)
-two plain French baguettes, cut into bite–size cubes
-two or three cheeses to nibble on (try for a flavour variety, such as blue, brie and old cheddar)
-lots of pens or pencils
-a small notebook for each guest, to take wine notes
Step 1: Planning
Create your invitations. You need to pinpoint the friends who will enjoy being active participants in this sort of evening. The more discussion and competition, the better this party will be.
Invite eight to 12 people; that’s how many pours are in one bottle of wine. Any more and each guest would have to bring two of the same for each person attending to get at least two ounces of a wine. There are about 25 ounces to a 750 ml bottle.
Be specific about the start time of the party. You don’t want to be late for such a great party, and the party can’t start without the wine.
Make sure each guest is clear that they must buy a bottle to attend. There is no cap for price. This way, people arrive with a variety of different wines. Also, tell guests to buy outside the box—something they think someone else wouldn’t have brought already. As the host, you could buy two bottles to make sure there is a variety.
Make sure each guest arrives with the bottle concealed from other guests and the price written on the bottle label.
Step 2: Pre-show
Before people arrive, set up your tasting area. Around a large table is usually best, but make sure everyone can fit in one room. Set out your pitcher, bucket, pencils, and plates of cheese and bread. Using similarly shaped glasses will assure consistency from one person to the next when tasting the same wine. If you have them, use glass identifiers so people don’t get theirs mixed up. If you don’t have glass identifiers, you can easily make them for a few dollars. Have extra loose leaf in case some people forget their notebooks. Have your bags ready to cover each bottle. The whole point of the party is to hide the wine, test your knowledge, and guess prices. Now you wait…
Step 3: Party time
Hide the bottles in a separate room as you wait for all to arrive. When all the wine is accounted for
, either you, or someone not participating, must place the bottles in the long brown bags, and number each one.
You’re now ready to begin the tasting. As host, you’ll let the guests know the wine’s identifying number and pour each person about two ounces. Taste together. Get each guest to write down what they taste, smell and see. People can also try to guess the type of grape and where the wine might come from. Finally, each person should write down a score and how much they think it costs.
When the group is done chatting about the wine, you can reveal the bottle, the details and the price. Do this for each wine.
If you want to jazz things up, provide a prize for the person who does the best job guessing wines.
Hopefully, everyone walks away from the evening with a bit more knowledge and a better idea of what to get next time they visit the liquor store.