At the recently held South Beach Wine Festival, held in Miami, Florida, I attended one of the many Wine Spectator-sponsored wine-tasting sessions — the more serious tasting sessions that are led by wine industry experts, winemakers or winery owners. Each session provides an opportunity to deepen your knowledge of specific wines and identify the qualities of each that most appeal to you.
The moderator for the session that I attended made a statement which reminded me of the following: "If you want to learn more about wine-tasting techniques, the first place to start is by tasting two similar wines side by side."
Why side-by-side wine tasting?
By sampling two different wines, you will prefer one over the other. The differences in each wine become more pronounced because you now have something with which to compare. Conversely, when drinking only one wine, it's easy to do casually without giving it much thought or really even tasting it. The reasons for your preferences will essentially "force" you to decide why you like one wine over another. "Unconscious" wine drinking will now become "conscious" wine tasters. In short, your sensory awareness will become heightened and your personal enjoyment will increase immediately. Ultimately, this is the difference between a wine lover and a beverage drinker.
At a recent wine-tasting event held at Bin 26 Wine Bar, three grape varietals were selected to do a side-by-side tasting. For our three flights of wine tastings we compared a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, and one from Napa Valley, California. (This sauvignon blanc is known as a Fume Blanc, a name given to Sauvignon Blanc wines, initially by the Mondavi family, which are aged in oak). There were also a Pinot Noir, again from Marlborough, New Zealand, and from Monterey County, California, and we sampled a Shiraz from Languedoc-Roussillon, France, and one from McLaren Vale, Australia.
While we could have done this blind, (wrap the bottles so no one knew what they were drinking) we chose not to. We asked each of the guests to sip and savour the wines in each flight and openly discuss what they preferred, and why they preferred that particular wine. It was truly a fun learning experience for those doing something like this for the very first time.
Chris Reckord - Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on twitter @Reckord @Devinewines