Blind Wine Tasting

Blake – Wine Buyer at Liquorama

My husband met our new neighbors who live a few houses down the street from us a couple months back. They invited us over for dinner by email. I had never met them. I only knew they were a young couple like us and have an 18 month old baby boy. I wanted to bring something, so they asked if we could bring the wine. Meeting them for the first time, I thought it would be fun to have an ice-breaker. Great ideas for Mother’s Day and birthday parties. 

Steps to a perfect blind wine tasting:

# 1 – Go to your favorite wine shop and ask for the Wine Buyer. In my case, I know the guys the run Liquorama in Upland. I dropped by Friday after work and asked Blake if he could help me come up with 4 red wine blends from 4 different regions around the same price point.

# 2 – Before checking out at the wine shop; remember to ask for 4 large brown paper bags to cover each bottle of wine.

# 3 – Create a page with tasting notes on each wine you select. You can use or pull them from the website of the wine shop you chose to get your wine from. Don’t show this to anyone until after the tasting.

# 4 – One hour prior to attending the dinner party, remove the wine corks, number each paper bag, and wrap it around each bottle of wine.

#5 – When arriving at the dinner, lay out the wines without the corks. You can use pourers if you have them. Give everyone an index card and pen. Let everyone go at their own pace or you can taste each one together. Start with about a 2oz. pour per glass so you can taste all 4 wines in a row.

# 6 – Discuss your notes with one another. By this time you can share the price point and the tasting notes. It’s always fun to see if people can guess price, region, and varietal.

*** The 3 of them enjoyed the Tamarack from Walla Walla, WA and I was a huge fan of the CASS from Paso Robles.

We came up with the following wines for the 1st blind tasting we did:

2009 Tamarack Cellars “Firehouse Red” Columbia Valley Red Blend, Walla Walla, Washington – $15.99

2009 Cameron Hughes Meritage, Central Coast, California – $ 10.99
2009 Scala dei Priorat Negre, Spain – $15.99
2008 Cass Rockin One Red Blend, Paso Robles, California – $14.99


A couple years later I had a  birthday party where each couple had to bring 2 bottles of their favorite 100% Cabernet Sauvignon with no twist off caps. The same exact bottle. When they got to our party, one bottle goes in a box and the other bottle gets a paper bag wrapped around it with a number. Open each bottle and remove any foil around the neck of the bottle so guests can’t tell which one was the wine they brought.

We had 10 couple attend so there were 10 different Cabernet bottles for everyone to sample.

Give each couple a index card and pen.

At the end of tasting through all the wines, each couple puts the wine they thought tasted the best.

Find out which wine was voted for the most. The wine that everyone thought was the best, the couple that brought that wine, gets the box of wine (the 2nd bottle from each couple). If it’s someone’s birthday, you can split the 2nd bottle between the birthday girl or guy and the person who brought the winning wine.

We came up with the following wines for the 3rd blind tasting, all red blends from all over the world:

1.       Castillero del Diablo Carmenere, Chile 2011 $10.00
2.       The Tapas Wine Collection, Vino Tinto, Spain 2007 $8.99
3.       Norton Reserva Malbec, Argentina 2010 $15
4.       Toscana Rosso Red Wine, Italy 2011 $10
5.       Le Grand Noir Cabernet-Shiraz, France 2010 $9.00
6.       Rancho Sisquoc Cellar Select, Santa Barbara County California 2009 $24.99
Looking for something unique and fun for Mother’s Day? Blind Wine Tastings can be quite coversational. Here’s a couple ways to make your day with Mom and the family go down in the books. 

Option #1: 

Ask each guest or each couple to bring 2 of the exact same bottle of wine and varietal that is your mom’s favorite. I will use my mom for example. If she were here tomorrow, I would ask every couple to bring 2 bottles of their favorite Cabernet Sauvignon (no twist off caps). Set a maximium and minimum price. We always say no less than $10 a bottle and no more than $20-25 per bottle. We paper bag one of the two bottles and everyones 2nd bottle goes in a box hidden away. Each paper bag gets a number. Everyone tastes each wine and chooses their favorite. You can give them all index cards and a pen to take notes and circle the winning number. Hopefully you have at least 4-12 bottles in the competition. When you tally all the scores to decide which bottle of Cabernet everyone enjoyed the best….unwrap all the bags. The person who brought the winning bottle gets to pick their favorite bottle out of the box. The rest of the bottles go to Mom. 

Option #2: 

Red from any region. Choose a region and let your guests bring one bottle of red wine from anywhere in the world or only focus on one appelation such as Paso Robles or Napa. Everyone will bring varietals anywhere from Cab, Syrah, Pinot, etc. Brown paper bag each bottle and let guests taste through them. This helps with new wine drinkers to experiment and try new wines. You can ask everyone to bring 2 bottles of the same to play a game or you can always purchase 5-8 different reds and do this yourself as a surprise to your guests. 

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