Blind Drunk!

Thursday 16 March 2017

The ‘blind’ tasting of low and high priced wines was one I had been excited about for a long time. I shall repeat the evening again so this will be a short article and hence the SPOILER alert. The concept is easy but great for learning and great for fun: 1. take 8 bottles of wine (4 whites, 4 reds); hide in ‘blind’ tasting bags; pour, taste and evaluate; discuss style, variety, price and preference; reveal, and enjoy!

The Society has outgrown its usual location and so we moved to a new venue. The Villagers (Brookside Office Park) in Claremont proved to be ideal. It is a central location, with secure visitor parking, and a pleasant open room with plenty of space for meeting expansion.

I began, as usual, by explaining in simple terms how to taste wine and how to record that assessment. I use the standard method as taught to me by the Cape Wine Academy that is easy to use and follow. We tasted the 8 wines in two sessions – whites first and then the reds – and compared their appearances, aromas and flavours. I took the opportunity too to showcase some grape varieties that the guests had not tasted at Cape Wine Lovers’ Society meetings before.

It was fun to listen to the discussions. I find it so interesting to hear different people discuss the same thing and to hear different preferences. It reinforces to me how personal and how individual an appreciation of wine is. I find too that tasting amongst people who do not always know each other, to start, helps to demystify wine.

As we sampled the wines, I was able to highlight the differences between the individual grape varieties. I had brought new handouts for the visitor folders, including two that simply described the characteristics of each white and red grape. These proved to be very useful aide memoires to assist with identifying which likely varieties were being presented.

We discussed too the likely price for each bottle and then personal preferences. Naturally, not everyone agreed and that was as expected. The fun really began when the time came for me to reveal the contents of each ‘blind’ tasting bag. I shall not tell all here. Nonetheless, there were many surprises! Some cheaper wines were thought to be expensive and vice versa.

‘Who were the winners in the preference stakes? Were these the most expensive? Or not?’ The top white and the top red really surprised. It showed how much we are influenced by our favourite grape varieties, preferred vineyards, bottle labels and their wine descriptions, and – of course! – price. I wondered after, while we were enjoying the tasty cheeseboard, if the winners were due to their style and grape variety. Now that gives me an idea for a future meeting.

As one guest wrote after, it was “an intriguing evening of tasting and surprise. It certainly gave me a novel way of assessing wine and on retrospection an ability to re-evaluate earlier opinion. A true educational experience.”

For me, it was the perfect blend of tasting, fun, learning and friendship. We certainly took more than a blind bit of notice to each of the wines!

Wines tasted:

Whites:

2015 Clos Malverne Chardonnay – R93
2016 Seven Oaks Chenin Blanc – R20
2015 Steenberg Sémillon – R180
2016 Wagenboom Sauvignon Blanc – R34

Reds:

2006 High Constantia Sebastiaan Bordeaux Blend – R320
2015 Leopard’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon – R49
2012 Seven Oaks 6+1 Pinotage – R95
2013 Steenberg Merlot – R150

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