~What are the pros and cons of blind wine tasting?
~What is blind wine tasting?
Depending upon the situation, a blind wine tasting is either a parlor game or educational.
A blind wine tasting is also a way to evaluate wines professionally, which is, to me, its best application.
~There are two types of blind wine tastings.
~In one type of blind tasting, you know the identity of the wines, but you are not told which wine is hidden in which brown bag and in which order the wines will be served.
~The other type of tasting is called a double-blind; you neither know the identity of the wines in the tasting nor the order in which they will be served—in my view, you should not be told the grape or wine types in the tasting.
~Ringers are thrown into many blind tastings. At parlor games, they are there to fool tasters; in a professional setting, they are there to gauge the tasters’ consistency.
~In any blind tasting, the bottle shape and neck capsule should be hidden from the tasters—whether consciously or unconsciously, some use these as clues.
With the exception of the rare or trained person, most of us are not deeply in tune with our perceptions.
We have heard stories of people who once could see but after having lost sight have gained a heightened sense of smell, hearing, and/or direction; they are forced to trust their innate perceptive abilities and their abilities grow stronger.
~Most of us are not good at taking the time and thought needed to recall smells and tastes. Indeed, some of us have problems identifying what it is we smell and taste, even with eyesight intact.
~It’s one thing to have a memory of a particular wine, but it’s quite another to have a memory of particular sensory stimulus; the trained taster instinctively attempts to marry the two and so, the trained taster has a far better chance at identifying wines correctly in either a blind or double-blind tasting. But even trained tasters have problems, especially if they spend time trying to gather clues.
Clues can sabotage your training by fooling you.
~I have no interest either in fooling others or in proving myself to them, which is what many parlor blind tastings turn out to offer.
~I believe that blind tasting is essential for professionals, mainly for technical/quality purposes (I am partial to double-blind, but that method has become a rarity in wine competitions). But if you must engage in them in your parlor, it’s best for every blind taster—trained or not—to go with instincts.
~The odds are that if untrained tasters listen to their senses rather than what they think they know or are supposed to know, their unconscious memories will provide the best information on which to form an opinion.
~Oh, and a blind tasting should always be a silent tasting. What someone says during a tasting often takes on the power of suggestion over others.
The one thing a blind tasting should not be able to do is to make the taster like something that the taster does not like.
With that in mind, how is it that some tasters who hate a particular wine can proclaim it the best in the blind tasting?
~Damned if I know the answer to that question.
~Maybe the tasters aren’t properly trained, maybe clues fool them, maybe they try too hard, maybe they are influenced more by labels than by wine, or maybe a combination of many things.
~Maybe the real reason that I dislike the parlor game is because this thing about liking a wine at a blind tasting that one did not generally like before the tasting—it has happened to me...
Copyright, Thomas Pellechia
September 2007. All Rights Reserved.