Three reasons why tasting blind helps you drink better wine
It's true. A significant part of becoming an advanced level sommelier involves learning to identify wines the hard way -- by relying 100 percent on the wine's appearance in the glass, smell and taste. Given that you are probably not, nor are you striving to become a certified wine professional, chances are good that you've never actually participated in a blind tasting. And why in the world would you, what with the convenience of those handy little gems called "labels" stuck right on the front of the bottle, announcing plainly what's inside?
You'd do it because you really want to become a better -- or shall we say savvier -- wine drinker. To achieve that goal, it's imperative that you spend time actually tasting wine -- as opposed to sucking it down reflexively nanoseconds after its been poured into your glass.
"Drinking" wine for sheer pleasure and "tasting" it as a means of learning common varietal attributes (aka training your palate) are as different as pinot gris and pinot noir. And by all means, you can certainly choose to practice tasting with full awareness of what you're drinking -- but you won't get nearly the same eye-opening (in a manner of speaking) results as sipping sans label.
Even more important, blind tastings reveal all sorts of dirty secrets about your palate -- and preferences -- that will completely blow your mind. Read on for three surprising reasons to start flying blind, immediately.
You've Been Punk'd: If you've swooned over a bottle of Sea Smoke, compulsively ordered cases of Santa Barbara pinots that you've never heard of, or chosen wines based on score alone, we are talking to you. Your palate's been bamboozled, and you didn't even know it, did you? Instead of following the herd (likely populated by peeps with no more official wine judging cred than you), learn to embrace the unknown. You'll soon discover the joys of completely obscure, delightful wines that satisfy based solely on the quality of the skills of their winemaker, not some marketing rep.
To prove this theory, try inviting your friends to your place for a friendly blind tasting where half of them bring the highest rated bottles they can find; have the other half proffer wines they've never heard of ( the same varietal, of course). Set a maximum price point to keep things fair, then judge for yourself whether the hyped up brands outperform the underdogs.