Monday, December 28, 2009

How to Throw a Blind Wine Tasting Party

I LOVE throwing blind wine tasting parties - it allows people to taste a slew of wines, give their opinion, and share in the excitement of which was which and who brought which wine!

1. Decide on a date

2. Decide on a varietal, an AVA/country, a price point, a year. There are so many combinations of this...
  • You could do Spanish wines under $15. 
  • You could do Zinfandels from Russian River under $30. 
  • You could do California Syrahs under $20. The options are endless. 
If you throw these regularly, you will also become familiar with the appellations, the varietals, and what to look for in each depending on what you like.

3. Choose your guest list.

4. Create an Evite. Everyone loves Evite and you should too. It's the easiest possible way to keep track of who's coming and if they're bringing anything.

SPICE IT UP: To add some fun and raise the stakes, you can have everyone bring a bottle and $5. The second place bottle gets their $5 back and the winner gets whatever is leftover. How enticing...

5. Shopping List:
  • Your wine to throw in the mix
  • Paper cups for spitting
  • Water crackers
  • Cheeses 
  • Water (lots of water)
  • Sodas & other non-alcoholic drinks for those kind enough to be Designated Drivers (DDs)
  • Beer for those select few who don't drink wine but want to watch the show
  • Apps (you can also ask your guests to bring a little something for before the tasting)
  • Desserts - everyone deserves something chocolatey to much on while listening to the results!
6. Any store will give you paper wine bags - just ask. BevMo & Trader Joe's have been the best about this in my experience. You can buy one of those Wine Tasting Kits that comes with fancy velvet bags but there's no need. The bags will just get ruined with all the wine dribbles and no one really cares that much.

7. Sharpies. Key in writing large numbers on each paper bag

8. Index cards (5x7 is perfect) & pens. Your guests will need something to write on as they taste through the wines

9. Wine glasses. The trick here is to go to Goodwill or IKEA and get cheap ones. It doesn't matter if they match, but most people prefer an actual wine glass to a red keg cup. I promise.

10. You can also add a fun touch by letting people write their name on their glass with a dry erase pen or provide charms or name tags for glasses. This will help in the long run!

11. Designate a table as guests walk in to deposit their bottle of wine. Designate other wine stations around your house to keep the guests moving throughout the house for good flow and fewer backups at stations. Keep crackers and water near stations as palate cleansers and snacks.

12. The day of...As guests arrive:
  • As guests arrive, ask them to put their bottle on the table 
  • Hand them a glass, an index card or two, a pen and direct them to the apps table to grab a bite
  • Let your guests mingle, eat, and enjoy the party (don't forget the music!)
13. The day of...As guests mingle:
  • This is the time when you get to start bagging bottles.
  • Open all of the bottles. Remove as much of the capsule as you can to prevent people from knowing which wine it is. 
  • Put all of the bottles into bags, twisting the top of the bag around the neck of the bottle as tightly as possible.
  • Ask a friend to come in and number the bags. Leave the room. Because s/he doesn't know which bottle is which and you don't know how they numbered the bottles, everyone can participate.
14. Wrangle the troops. Explain the rules of the tasting:
  • Each bottle has a number.
  • When you taste the wine from that bottle, write down the number of the bottle and any tasting notes you may have.
  • Give the wine a score from 1 - 100.
  • Start tasting! Be sure to let everyone know that a 2 ounce pour should be plenty. That way there is some for everyone. Be sure everyone has a cup to spit the wines if they feel so inclined.
15. When everyone is finished, move all the bottles into one central location.

16. Designate someone to tally the scores in Excel (preferred) or on paper.

17. When all of the wines have a score, wrangle the troops again. Start by announcing the lowest scoring wine by number, then reveal the bottle from that numbered bag. People can fess up to their wine as it's called if they'd like! Or they can hide in the corner, hanging their head in shame. Keep doing this through all of the bottles...inching your way to the winning bottle.

18. Award the second place winner with their $5.

19. Drum roll please....Announce the winner and hand over the loot!

This is such a great party to throw for so many reasons. People who may not know each other well get to meet new people in an easy way (wine is the ultimate ice breaker!). A little healthy competition is good for everyone. You learn new wines, why you like them or why you don't, and find sleepers to try!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Joel Gott

I tasted through 6 Joel Gott wines tonight - incredible. My favorite is his GSM - Alkalai. Sooooo good. He also tasted us on a Semper Pinot from Russian River and a Du Mal Pinot from the Sonoma Coast. I feel so spoiled.

My favorite Gott wines...Amador Zin and Alkalai (I know I'm spelling this incorrectly.)


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wine Blogging Taking a Backseat

Unfortunately, I haven't paid enough attention to this blog. It's been summer, I've been busy, oh, and I've been drinking more beer than anything else! I wanted to post photos from the Wine Blogger Conference 2009 (yes, 2 months later...).

Friday, July 24, 2009


Winery #
CLIF Gary's Improv Syrah 2006 Napa Valley $35
Ohhhh I've seen these wines all over and always wanted to try them. Sarah Gott is their winemaker. Coolio. Syrah's are one of my favorite varietals...this is great. I like how it's not kicking me in the booty, but just a light tap. It's round and complex, full and bright. It likes me, I can tell. I like it. They're opening a tasting room soon in Saint Helena...sweet.

Ahhhh one from the city

Winery #
Foggy Bridge Chardonnay 2007 San Francisco Bay $18
San Francisco Bay? Sooooo....where? It's so loud in here I can't hear.... Snuck a look at the bottle - Livermore Valley. Citrus/Fruit on the nose, but creamy on the palate. Interesting...they were striving for something different...they acheived that but it's a little...interesting...Hm.

On to a white

Winery #
Tandem Chardonnay 2007 $54
Honestly- Chard is tough for me. What can I say, I'm a red person. I do like that the winemaker is in overalls - that rocks. Tasting...Ok, maybe I just haven't had a fancy pants Chard before...that's a good wine. Oaky, smoky and karaoke. Ok, kidding. I couldn't think of anything else that rhymed with "oaky." Do you like Chard? Do you not like Chard? Try this. It's good.


Winery #
Cline Ancient Vines Mourvedre 2007 $16
I started at Cline at the tender age of 24...I have extremely good memories of all of my visits to Cline. Now on to the that's smooth. Again, not what I expected from a Mourvedre...I like. At $16 that's a smokin' deal. Time to go back to Cline!

PS - I used to live for those messages on their marquis - they kicked off my day on my commute. I've always wanted my name on that marquis.

Line 39

Winery # something - Line 39 '07 Petite Sirah $10
Lake County representin! Bam. Not what I expected, but based on the packaging and the varietal I expected a $30+ bottle. Nope - 10 bucks. I'm very impressed. Easy on the palate given that it's a PS, if I can find this locally, it'll be my shock-'em-at-dinner wine!

Drink me.

Winery 7 - Snow's Lake Vineyard - Cloverdale
'05 72% Cab & 28% Cab Franc (I should like this one) $45
Thanks to David Honig again for this - "needs another 5 years" - I'm learning a ton!!

Please Rotate

Winery 6 - Cupcake Vineyards
07 Cab $13.99
65% Monterey (Wild Horse vineyards) 35% Livermore
Director of Marketing said "want our wines to be creamy" - let's see if it is...
Not bad for the retail - Recommend for an every-day-Cabernet.

PS - They bring cupcakes every year. You had me at cupcake.