Blind Tasting

My new restaurant job has compelled me to brush up on my wine knowledge. The wine menu has 120+ wines, ranging from appellations all over the world and a lot has changed in wine making styles since my last restaurant job, 6 years ago. Wanting to better acquaint myself with the wines on our list, tap my wine savvy friends for information, and educate some of my less wine savvy friends, and myself, I decided to throw a wine and cheese dinner party. The theme for the evening would be wines from the Mediterranean and South America. We tasted a total of 8 wines, 3 whites, one rose, and 4 reds and we put together a simple spread of vegetable salads from the farmers market, a beautiful bowl of radishes with butter and sea salt, sandwiches, a cheese plate, and a banana cake with mascarpone frosting.

The most interesting part of the wine and cheese dinner is that we decided to do the tasting blind. To my surprise, this turned out to be a huge success. We were able to focus more on the characteristics of the wine such as body, color, and smell to determine what region the wine was from, the grape variety, and finally the actual name of the wine. I found the blind tasting encouraged a nice group dialogue where people were less intimidated to add their observations. It was a fun way to put our wine knowledge to the test. My favorite wine turned out to be a 2005 Alsatian Pinot Blanc by Marc Tempe which I randomly threw in at the last minute. It had an amazing bouquet of honey, apple, butterscotch, raisin and must. It was medium body and slightly acidic with a dry finish. It was wonderful with the stinky cheeses. Runner up was a Spanish white called Txakoli (pronounced chalkolee) made from the hondarrabi zuri grape. The wine had nice grapefruit and citrusy notes, it had a lovely effervescence to it and was dry and refreshing on the palette. Traditionally this wine is poured with the bottle held high above the glass which is said to bring out the full flavors of the wine. While I do not intend to perform this ceremony at my tables I will definitely be recommending these wines off the list to my customers.

Until the next wine dinner,
ciao, suerte!

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