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Hosting a Blind Wine Tasting in Your Home- Italian Style
Theme Suggestions, Wine Suggestions, The Big Reveal
Whether you are a wine novice or a serious wine collector, tasting competition events are fun and instructive. Why not host a wine tasting party in your home? Wine professionals always advise new wine enthusiasts to increase their own “Sensory Rolodex©” by sampling as many new wines as possible. Wine professionals also suggest active note-taking to prevent recall problems. “Can you imagine remembering everything about a wine after tasting 100 of them like wine judges everywhere must do?” This is question I’m asked after judging. Answer: No, take notes. Thank you to Bob and Erin Botsford for hosting “Find the Region in Italy” blind tasting.
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Tips for Hosting a Successful Blind Wine Tasting Event – Italian Style
Tip 1: Select a Tasting Event Theme – Guessing the Wine or Region?
Start with a Wine Folly map. Will you do a blind tasting and set up a competition for the guests to match a concealed bottle to a given winemakers’ notes by name or region? Used numbered bottle bags to conceal the bottles. Will you do a vertical tasting of different vintages of the same wine? Or, simply, will you provide a tasting flight of multiple varietals, vintages, and winemakers to satisfy many types of wine drinkers? Know your guests and decide the most intriguing format. Two suggested formats:
* Have winemaker notes – guess the wine from a column of choices and match.
*Pick the wine region- give tasters the winemaker notes and grapes; let them select the region.
*Promote competition and have a prize for the most correct answers. Prepare for a tie-breaker.
Tip #2 – Blind Tasting Bottle Disguises - Guest “Guess” Sheets – An Answer Key
Have wrappers or bags available to hide the wine label for a blind tasting format. Make sure the bottles are hidden before the event begins. Number the bottles. If you are chilling the wine, make sure the bags are water and ice-proof. Provide a handouts for guests for scoring. In one column have the style or wine or grapes used, another column for tasting notes, a blank column for the answer, and a final column for ranking and wine price guess. Have guests match their answer with a bottle number. If using a map, circle more than the possible regions as possible answers. Tell guests if a region can be used more than once. For example, often the Veneto and Tuscany regions might be represented by more than one wine in a tasting. Don’t forget to make yourself an Answer Key!
Tip # 3 Provide Wine Friendly Finger Foods
Offer wine-friendly foods such as cheeses, meats, bruschetta, and pizza. Consider asking guests to provide the appetizers.
Tip #4 Use Measured Stoppers
Utilize measured bottle stoppers so guests can sample an ounce of wine. There are about 20-24 1 ounce tastings per bottle. Measured stoppers can be found at wine supply stores or online. Otherwise instruct guests to pour small quantities or you will find that your Super Tuscan, Barolo, or Brunello will be consumed before others have a chance to sample.
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Tip # 5 Set a Tasting Time Limit –
I suggest two hours for the wine tasting. Guests’ palates will get tired after that point. Have wine disposal buckets available for the “spitters” or “dumpers” who want to simply sample, but not drink the wines.
Tip #6 – Have a “Big Reveal” at Party’s End
Have an end-of-event “Reveal” of the correct wine names. Dramatically cut off the bag and ribbon to reveal each hidden wine. Ask the crowd if they correctly identified it. I utilize a powerpoint and Apple TV viewing for my larger tastings.
Tip #7 A Prize for the Best Taster
Be festive and give a prize for the most accurate taster. A bottle of your favorite wine might be the most appropriate prize. Have a tiebreaker ready. I often have a question about wine that I have covered in the presentation to be answered correctly. Or select a wine and see who has guessed the closest to the price, much like Price is Right.
Tip # 8 Linger Over the Wines and Add Dessert
Conclude the event with desserts and dessert wine. Remember that the dessert wine should always be sweeter than the dessert – to keep a wine from tasting flat or sour. I suggest a dessert wine like a Vin Santo or a Brachetto d’Acqui, especially with Italian desserts like cannoli and tiramisu. Finally, let guests linger over all the opened wines.
Annual tasting parties can be matched to an occasion, holiday, or a season. Tastings are memorable, popular events. Consider a wine tasting party following fall wine harvest season, pre-Thanksgiving, or as a salute to vintage release dates in the spring.
Be sure to remind your guests that wine sensory detection is a practice sport, so practice often. Cheers!
Some Wine Recommendations
Suggested Sparking Wines
Wilfred Wong of Wine.com, 90 Points
Suggested Wine Wines
Robert Parker, 91 Points
James Suckling, 92 Points.
James Suckling, 92 Points
Suggested Italian Rosé
2021 Planeta Rose, Sicily, Italy, $19
Wilfred Wong of Wine.com, 91 Points
Suggested Italian Red Wines
Paolo Scavino Barolo 2017, Piedmont, Italy $56
Robert Parker, 93 Points
Wine Spectator, 90 Points
Wine Spectator, 93 Points
2019 Antinori Villa Toscana, Tuscany, Italy, $18
Wine Spectator, 90 Points
Suggested dessert wines to serve:
2021 Marenco Brachetto d’Acqui Pineto, Piedmont, Italy, $20
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