This Young Wino:

a new online Asia-based wine journal for young winos by young winos.

How to Host Blind Tastings

Hong Kong, April 2017.

Hong Kong, April 2017.

Nobody is more disappointed than myself, when I say I don't remember what I drank that night at a St Aubin White Blind Tasting last week. Super pumped for this event, I was ready to record meticulous tasting notes for you readers here, from top producers such as Bachelet, Ramonet, Lamy and more.

In end, I committed a huge mistake – that is I got shit faced. That is quite obvious in hindsight, however I had too much hubris and forgot many valuable lessons from US undergraduate collegiate life: eat before you drink and pace yourself. This tasting was done with friends so no professional faux pas was made.

To help you, my dear readers, in hosting your own blind tastings, do make a note of the following lessons I learnt the hard way: 

  • Stay Organised (a.k.a. the hardest part).
    • Ideally you have someone not involved in the blind tasting to help you organise the bottles so that you only know what you brought. 
    • Bring numbered bottle socks to keep the order straight. 
    • Record which number bottle is brought by whom before you start. 
  • Slow down. For some reason, many people like to breeze through the wines to get a quick "feel" for them before tasting begins. However you can honestly go at your own pace, if you stay organised and know which bottle is which. Then you can really go at without worrying about mixups, hence why staying relatively organised makes it so important!
  • Bring spittoons. Sounds unnecessary when the tastings themselves are not professional and purely for fun but quickly after going through a few faulty bottles or an overly generous pour, you don't have to commit to drinking the whole thing or find the nearest sink to pour. This also is relevant to points 1-3.
  • Optional: Additional glasses. This is optional because it's understandable not everybody has enough glassware around to do this. However it really helps to discern between two very similar wines and allows you to revisit.

Organising a blind tasting isn't as hard as it sounds. To be honest, it's the best kind of tasting in terms of pushing your experience, biases and palette, in a structured way. However when you have a lot of bottles and a lot eager drinkers, you can easily overwhelm yourself and get in over your head.

Any other tips? Let me know!

Thoughts on Chateauneuf-du-Pape

Egon Müller at Tate Dining Room, Hong Kong