Intended for great wine lovers and novices in oenology, blind tasting allows you to discover a wine objectively, without preconceptions or judgment. Then let your senses speak and listen to your feelings, and discover the benefits of blind tasting.
What is a blind tasting?
Blind tasting offers wine lovers the opportunity to awaken their senses and taste wines whose identity is hidden. The bottles of wine presented do not reveal any indication of the origin, the grape variety, or the vintage of the wine. The label is hidden, sometimes even the bottle too, so that the evaluation of the wine is based on visual examination, olfactory examination and taste examination.
After tasting, assumptions are made about the wine, and conclusions are drawn about its quality and aging potential.
What is the point of a blind tasting?
The objective of blind tasting is multiple. It can be considered in a simply fun way, to have fun recognizing wines and having a good time with wine lovers or friends.
But blind tasting more often has an educational interest. The idea is then to be able to assess your level of knowledge in oenology and understanding of wine . The taster begins the experience without any preconceptions or any information, and must refer to his feelings and his knowledge to recognize the aromas of the wine, which will then be associated with grape varieties, vintages, viticulture techniques, winemaking and breeding…
Blind tasting is a very complex exercise, and novices often take part in thematic tastings, in order to direct them towards more specific wines (single varietal, wine region, etc.).
Blind tasting: an exercise that has its limits
If the experience is intended to be completely objective, it is not, however, completely so. Indeed, the analysis of the wine is carried out based on the taster's observations, which are guided according to his tastes and perceptions. However, it is scientifically proven that taste is constructed mentally, and that perception is greatly influenced by the context of the tasting, the view of the wine, or even the taste references of the person.
A study demonstrated that the same wine could be judged in different ways by the same taster during a single blind tasting. In fact, after tasting the same wine 3 times, 90% of tasters gave different ratings to the same bottle. These assessments sometimes ranged from “mediocre wine” to “gold medal wine”.
Gather the right conditions for a successful blind tasting
Although blind tastings have some limitations, they remain the best way to objectively assess the quality of a wine. To do this, you must carry out the tasting in the best conditions:
- Choose the ideal time: tasting outside of meals is ideal so as not to be influenced by the taste of the food. We then favor the end of the afternoon, or the beginning of the evening;
- Having bread on hand: eating a piece of bread between each tasting helps cleanse the palate without disturbing the aromas of the wine , because bread has a neutral flavor;
- Do not smoke before tasting: tobacco has the unfortunate tendency to inhibit or distort the aromas of the wine and saturate the taste buds;
- Choose the ideal location: to avoid being disturbed or influenced by certain odors, it is preferable to carry out the tasting in a neutral, odor-free room;
- Do not wear perfume: in the same way as the smells in a room, it is not recommended to wear perfume or use a deodorant with a very strong smell, so as not to distort the olfactory analysis ;
- Drink a glass of lemon juice just before: a mixture of water and lemon juice is ideal for salivating, and thus prepare the palate for tasting .
Blind tasting step by step
Finally, the process of the blind tasting is the same as for a classic tasting. However, the senses are much more alert, and no solicitation influences the analysis.
Visual analysis of wine
To visually examine a wine , it is recommended to place the wine glass on a white background, in daylight, and to tilt it at 45°. The taster can then analyze the wine by placing himself above the glass, to observe the contour of the wine, then evaluate the color of the wine. This will give an indication of the vintage of the wine, or in any case its approximate age:
- A young red wine is more purple, while an old red wine tends towards orange;
- A young white wine is more green or white, while an old white wine also tends towards orange.
The intensity of a wine's color is also an indicator of the grape varieties used by the winemaker, but also of the presence of alcohol, tannins, or acidity.
Therefore, the lighter a wine is, the more likely it is to come from a wine region with little sunlight. Conversely, a dark wine is often a wine from the South.
Finally, the visual examination can also tell you the alcohol content of the wine. The quantity of tears in the wine will then be determining. The more they are present, the higher the alcohol content of the wine will be.
Olfactory analysis of wine
The idea of the olfactory examination is to evaluate the nose of the wine, without necessarily trying to precisely determine each aroma. It is interesting, firstly, to identify the main families of odors :
- Fruity (red fruits, exotic fruits, stone fruits, pome fruits, etc.);
- Floral (rose, jasmine, violet, honeysuckle, etc.);
- Plant (mushroom, undergrowth, fern, oak, pine, verbena, etc.);
- Spicy (nutmeg, honey, bay leaf, vanilla, thyme, etc.);
- Animal (musk, leather, game, fur, etc.);
- Empyreumatic (coffee, tobacco, toast, flint, etc.).
The olfactory examination is also an opportunity to detect abnormal odors, which generally come from a defect in the wine (phenol wine, corked wine, maderised wine, rotten wine, sulfur smell, etc.).
The family of odors can give you a first indication of the age of the wine :
- A young wine generally develops a fruity and floral nose;
- An old wine often develops an animal or vegetal nose.
Taste analysis of wine
Let's move on to the tasting stage , which consists of taking the wine in the mouth to assess the balance between acidity and sugar.
White wine can then be qualified in 4 ways:
- Sweet white wine, with a nice balance;
- Lively white wine, where the acidity dominates the sugar;
- Round or smooth white wine, where the fat slightly dominates the acidity and where the wine has a nice length in the mouth;
- Full-bodied white wine, where the fat clearly dominates and indicates a wine suitable for aging in the cellar.
As for red wines, 4 adjectives can also qualify them:
- Tannic red wine, where the tannins dominate everything;
- Smooth red wine, where the fat envelopes the acidity and tannins;
- Light red wine, where the acidity is marked, the fruity aromas too, and the tannins are little present;
- Fine red wine, where the tannins are few but aggressive, and where the nose is complex.
Blind wine tasting is a very complex exercise, the main points of which we have just briefly presented. Would you like to try this oenological experience? Visit the cellars of the Berne estate to carry out a blind tasting of our Provence wines .