Wine 101: Blind Tasting or Mind Tasting?

Blind tasting is not about the eyes. And it should not be. It is about the mind. The main obstacle when it comes to blind tasting is theDessimis-PinotGrigio “noise” that our minds create. You want to guess what the variety is, or where it is from. There is a self-pampering high that comes when you guess the variety right, isn’t there? We all have been through that. But, nobody can really nail every single wine, not even the best sommeliers. Tasting wine, blind tasting it, shouldn’t be about competition but about learning. Mostly learning about yourself, because the way you learn about wines, the way you “guess” the right variety or the right origin, is mostly a process of your own progress. So, why then, compete against yourself? I mentioned the noise that comes from our minds, the static, which actually prevents us from becoming better at appreciating wine. Try to turn it off. First of all, don’t jump at your first hunch “It’s Australian Shiraz!”. Wait. Don’t try to guess right off the bat. Listen to the wine, take your time, leave the labelling to the very end. Enjoy first. That is something we seem to forget when we taste wine, specially if the setting is kind of competitive. Who cares if you lose or win? That is a page on your book, the book of your life. Tomorrow nobody is going to remember “Oh, Jenny was so good she nailed all ten wines”. The page is just one, and there are hundreds more to come. So, first of all, enjoy those wines, turn off the competitive self and start doing your technical approach. Check out the wine visually, because there you will get clues as to the quality, the age, the elaboration. Sniff carefully, a few times, but don’t try to discover aromas you dont’ really perceive. Don’t fool yourself. If you only get one aroma, that is the one you jot down and move on to tasting. Same story. Let the wine tell you about itself, don’t hang tags on it. Go past first impressions, remember that even if you don’t like that wine, quality is not always about liking. Write your notes, and only at the end try to put the picture together and short list the two or three varieties (or main grapes in blends) that you think could be. If after all that you still missed, that’s all right. But your chances at getting it right will be increased greatly for your next try. And furthermore, and more important, you had fun along the way. Cheers to that, and go confidently to your next mind tasting.


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