Tuesday, July 26, 2011

But Now I See

Is there anything that impresses a wine drinker about a sommelier more than does the blind tasting, when a sommelier successfully guesses what the wine is without seeing the bottle? (Providing that the wine drinker knows what a sommelier is. A friend of my mother thought that I had become a citizen of Somalia.)

Blind tastings are one of the rites of passage for any sommelier. Our program at Algonquin had no less than 10 and as many as 15 blind tastings in every class. And six blind tastings on every exam, when it really counted. After a while, either you became adept at blind tastings or they relegated you to Cs or Ds.

But if you want to see just how challenging a blind tasting can be, head over to the Wine Align site to catch their new video series, “So, You Think You Know Wine?”. In each episode, four of Toronto’s most respected (or prolific) wine reviewers put their reputations on the line in 4-minute blind tastings. It’s schadenfrohen fun to see these top-notch reviewers struggle and rationalise their way towards – or away from – guessing what the wine is. It’s a great way to learn how a wine is analysed. Some episodes reinforce one of the basic tips that our profs gave us: your first instinct is usually right.

One suggestion for improvement: bring back Sara d’Amato, who brings a different, and welcomed, perspective than does having 3 middle-aged guys...like me.

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