Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Blind tasting for the birds?

By Jessica Yadegaran
Monday, November 12th, 2007 at 4:30 pm in Uncategorized.

I thoroughly enjoyed Mike Steinberger’s piece on the downsides of blind tasting on today.

He talks about how labels hold so much truth for us (or at least we think they do) not to mention that when you taste blind, you’re not going in with any knowledge of how the wine was prepared, or sometimes even where or when.

Steinberger is being modest though. He has a super palate and can taste a wine and determine not only its age but its Social Security Number.

I taste blind with my a group of friends once a month, but those experiments aren’t too scientific. My greatest experience of tasting blind was last year during the re-enactment of the Judgment of Paris, when I had the honor of sampling the younger vintages of the Cabernets and Chardonnays being pitted against their French counterparts.

All were liquid gold and garnet, there’s not much to say there.

But the Vintners Club Petit Sirah and high-end Cabernet tastings I attended this year were good examples of what Steinberger writes about. Many of us in this venerable group felt that some of the wines in both tastings were flawed. It wouldn’t have mattered too much, except some of the winemakers are members of the club, and were in the mix, blindly tasting and ranking their own wines.

As much as critics say they can do a blind tasting of 200 wines a day and still be astute, sometimes I think the whole set-up is just a way to pucker out your palate. And labels aside, what if you’re simply in a bad mood that day?

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  • Mark V Marino

    I not sure it is your intent but you are really funny! I think it is a flaw of wine tasters to take themselves a little too seriously.

  • Jessica Yadegaran

    My point exactly! Thanks for writing, Mark.