A New Twist on Blind Wine Tasting

A New Twist on Blind Wine Tasting

Christmas parties are full of fun, food, friends and great conversation. Of course at our house there’s wine, too. This year we tried something different: a new twist on a blind wine tasting with a great prize. This simple activity paid off in laughs and mingling all night long! Here’s how you can do this too:

Blind wine tasting is a fun and humbling activity. A collection of wines are presented for tasting, with their identities hidden from the tasters. Methodologies vary, but many times the tasters attempt to identify the varietal, appellation,  winery,  and vintage. That’s why it can be such a humbling experience, because it is so easy to be very, very wrong.

2WineGlassesThis was a Christmas party, not a seminar on humility, so we set up the blind tasting in a very different way. In our version of the game, everyone was invited to bring a bottle to the tasting. Two of the party planners served as tasting coordinators, collecting the bottles and placing them all in numbered brown paper bags. The game was afoot!

We spent the next hour or two tasting each mystery bottle, making judgments and taking notes. The party immediately ramped up to the next level, with clusters of people forming and reforming around the various clusters of wine bottles. Nothing breaks the ice better than sharing unsupported assessments of good wine!

ScoreSheetFor our party, the goal of the tasting was simple: determine the best tasting wine! Yes, that was the secret to our tasting. At the end of the tasting period, each taster cast a secret ballot indicating their favorite wine by number. Once the votes were tallied, the person who brought the top voted wine won a lovely bottle of champagne.

This approach to a blind tasting has a number of benefits. First, nobody has to feel less knowledgeable than anyone else about wine. A secret ballot makes everyone equally brilliant, and the entire group selects a winner, so there are no losers. Second, the party-goers were intrinsically motivated to bring really nice wine. The nicest bottle of wine would earn another nice bottle of wine. That made for a delicious night of tasting!

The next time you are planning a party (maybe New Years Eve?), consider a blind tasting with these simple rules. The great wine and great conversation will make the party an instant hit!


About the Author: John grills a mean steak and is always in the market for another wine fridge. Believes that if a winery has more than 10 employees, it's probably too big. Buys wine faster than he drinks it, but who cares?

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