We Do Our Blind Tastings
We rotate being host and guest
for each of our tastings. The host selects the varietal and the wine,
sets up the tasting, and may choose to serve a meal afterwards. The
guests bring replacement wines and a dish for hors d'oevres or to go with
the meal. There are lots of wine tasting recommendations available
on the web and we provide a few interesting links below. Overall,
though, our philosophy is simply to enjoy ourselves and learn what our
impressions are when not influenced by a famous label or hefty price.
We have found lots of favorite inexpensive wines this way.
To set up the tasting, the
host makes a list of all the wines, including vintner, vintage, and price.
We use the price the vintner sets rather than what was actually paid, since
this is a better indicator of relative worth. If vintner's tasting
notes are printed on the label, these are recorded as well. The list
is then hidden and the bottles are placed in plain paper bags. A
few hours before the tasting, the wines are uncorked and the corks replaced
with generic stoppers so as not to give clues to the wine inside.
The paper-wrapped bottles are then randomly rearranged so that nobody
knows what's inside, and each bottle is numbered.
Each taster receives a small
sample of each wine in sequence and evaluates its appearance, nose
and taste. Tasters take notes and rate each wine according to their
individual tastes. We like to have a list of wine terms handy
to stimulate our imagination. When all wines have been sampled,
we have additional pours of each wine as needed to be sure of our
ratings. When everyone is sure, we collect ratings to get a group
consensus. Next, we bring out the list of wines and everyone tries
to guess which is which. There is a strong tendency to use price
as an indicator here and we are most often quite surprised at what a poor
correlation this provides. The final step is to unveil the wines
and then, of course, have more samples of our favorites.
Here are some of the wine terms
we have collected, together with some interesting on-line dictionaries:
| Smells | General Tastes
| Specific Tastes | Dictionary
GENERAL: Clear, Cloudy,
Maderized (brown with too much age)
WHITES: Almond, Amber, Gold, Green,
Lemon, Straw, Brown, Butter, Orange, Tawny
REDS: Pink, Ruby, Rose,
Garnet, Blackish, Purple, Raspberry
APPLEY An apple-type aroma in
young wines comes from malic acid
AROMA Describes the simple smell
of a single fruit in younger wine ? "an aroma of blackberries"
BOUQUET` A mature wine gives off
several smells. Bouquet refers to their total effect on the drinker's
BUTTERY Often a result of malolactic
fermentation, a second fermentation that reduces a wine's fruity crispness
and softens and rounds it
COMPLEX The wine may suggest to
the nose many overlapping aromas. For example, one wine might bring
to mind chocolate, cherries, pine and tarragon.
FLINTY A smell like that of flint
sparks, often noted in French Chablis
FLOWERY A scent reminiscent of
FOXY Distinct, gamy scent of wine
made from native American non-vinifera grapes
GREEN, STALKY, STEMMY Sometimes
this sharp scent adds crispness, but it can be overdone. It might be due
to under-ripe grapes or immature vines.
HONEY A scent found in some fine
LIVELY An attractive, fresh scent
NOSE Denotes either bouquet or
aroma or both
OAK Retains scent from oak barrels
and oak chips
STALE This "off" odor is sometimes
evident right after opening the bottle. Dissipate it by moving the
wine around in the glass.
SULPHURY This "burning" smell
causes the drinker's nose to recoil. It can be from leftover sulfur
used in winemaking.
VANILLA One of the scents that
an oak cask can give to a wine.
VEGGIE A smell of asparagus or
other vegetable instead of the smell of grape or fruit. Often due
to over-watered or over-fertilized grapes.
YEASTY A fresh bread smell in
the wine. It may mean that the wine is poorly made or that it's still
ACID Tasted especially on the
inside of the lips and tongue tip. In wine, its best when balanced
- just to give a crispness --and not overpowering
APPLEY An apple tang in light
white wines comes from the wines' malic acid
BAKED, TOASTED The result of the
hot sun on grapes, or of heat used in the wine's making.
COARSE, ROUGH Wine whose qualities
don't blend together
DRY Opposite of sweet
FRUITY Describes a fresh sense
of the main grape in the wine
HARSH, HARD A sensation often
due to tannin
LONG FINISH This phrase denotes
the wine's aftertaste that lingers in the mouth
SHORT FINISH Flavor quickly disappears
off the tongue
SOFT, SMOOTH The wine imparts
a plush sensation and is non-aggressive in the mouth
SWEET Come on! You know
you don't need a definition for sweet.
TANNIN This component puckers
the mouth, especially the sides of the tongue and cheeks.
YEASTY This taste of fresh bread
often means the wine is poorly made; perhaps it wasn't cleansed of yeast
particles, or it is still fermenting.
BERRY Blackberry, Raspberry, Strawberry,
CARAMEL Honey, Butterscotch, Butter,
Soy Sauce, Chocolate, Molasses
CHEMICAL Sulfur Dioxide, Burnt
Match, Cabbage, Garlic, Etc.
CITRUS Grapefruit, Lemon
DRIED FRUIT Raisin, Prune, Fig,
EARTHY Moldy, Mushroom, Dusty
FLORAL Geranium, Violet, Rose,
FRUITY Cherry, Apricot, Peach,
Pineapple, Melon, Banana
VEGETATIVE Bell Pepper,
Green Bean, Asparagus, Green Olive, Black Olive, Artichoke
HERBACEOUS Green Grass, Hay, Tea,
Tobacco, Eucalyptus, Mint,
MICROBIOLOGICAL Mousy, Horsy,
Sweaty, Sauerkraut, Yeasty
NUTTY Walnut, Hazelnut, Almond
PUNGENT Menthol, Alcohol
SPICY Licorice Anise, Black Pepper,
WOODY Toasted, Smokey, Coffee,
Bacon, Medicinal, Oak, Cedar, Vanilla