Blind Tasting Recommendations

Hey all,

My best friends father is having a birthday this week. He is an avid wine enthusiast so his son and I are going to surprise him with a blind tasting. We are planning to do 6 total wines - either 3 red / 3 white or 4 red / 2 white. Here is what I was thinking:

Red: Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Malbec and either a Nebbiolo or Sangiovese variety.

White: Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris

What are your collective thoughts on these selections for a blind tasting? Also, does anyone have any recommends for specific wines within those categories that would be great for a blind tasting?

Much appreciated.


What are you trying to achieve?

I can only assume you are looking for varietal ID with 6 different ones. I`d get wines that fit the price range and interest of those involved. Have across the board stemware that supports each wine to show its best treasures such as a Bordeaux or Burgundy stem, but use only one type for all wines. Open up any and all that require a bit of time. Brown bag. Serve and have score sheets or note paper to make comments on and compare after all have been tasted.

Thanks for the tips!

I agree with Denis’ question, as the answer to that might strongly influence any answers.

If he enjoys the parlour game of guessing, then there are lots of options, but for me the sneaky fun option might be to have 6 wines, but where there is also a common thread to all of them, be that a region, family wineries, wines from > 100 year old wineries, the same vintage and so on. As well as having a go at guessing the individual wines, there is another common link to work out. It shows a bit off thought / effort.

On the other hand, some wine enthusiasts don’t really care for the parlour game. A nice considered selection of wines, be it with a common theme or not, would be most appreciated.

It’s good if you know their interests, for instance some enthusiasts despise Sauvignon Blanc, or are very particular about chardonnay styles. Indeed many of us would most enjoy being offered some more obscure wines / grapes, but perhaps with a nice safe stalwart to finish. I’d lean this way if I didn’t know their tastes.

One alternative on the simple guessing game, is ‘options’. Everyone plays, and each wine has ~ 3 questions, each of which has 3 multiple choice options. A correct guess earns 1 point

e.g. Wine A
Q1: Is this a 2005, 2007 or 2010 vintage
Q2: Is the wine 14% alc , 14.5% alc or 15% alc
Q3: Is this wine from Washington State, Sonoma or South Australia

Wine 2
Q1: Is the lead grape Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc or Chenin Blanc
Q2: as it aged in American oak, French oak, or stainless steel
Q3: Did Parker score this wine 90, 92 or 96 points?

You don’t have to rigidly stick to 3 questions / 3 answers of course, and ideally most questions can be derived from the front or back label (for ease, but I suppose to avoid disputes!). You can stick to the same 3 questions e.g. Grape / region / vintage, but I’d lean towards mixing the questions up a bit.


I would throw in the 2013 Clos Du Val Cab and ask if is this 90 or 95+ pts… or do all reds and check the bottle variation. [cheers.gif] [cheers.gif]

For me I like to do the new world old world question.

How about 2012 Caymus (40th Anniversary) from 2013 Caymus? There’d be only two questions: ‘Can you believe this was made by the same winery?’ and ‘Would you like me to dump the 40th down the drain or would you like the honor?’. [snort.gif]

I remember being asked that question for Chateau Musar (by someone guessing) and not knowing what to answer.

What is the point of a blind tasting if all the wines are really different? I would have all the same variety or blend. You might try some from France or Italy vs some from California or Washington. If it’s a blind Chardonnay and a blind Pinot Noir and a blind Cabernet Sauvingon, what’s the point? Those wines can’t be confused with each other. I’d do something like six “Bordeaux blends”, from Italy, France, California, Washington, Australia and somewhere.

And honestly, the glasses won’t matter. Just make sure that everyone has the same six glasses.

Pick wines with the highest scores.

Hi Joey
A further thought - the lack of recommendations may be because the question is so open ended. Like saying ‘recommend me six CDs’. Once you’ve started to narrow it down, it might be useful to come back with how your thoughts are narrowing down. Of course it may be worth ensuring you friend doesn’t read this forum, otherwise on the night they may show a mysteriously perfect ability to guess the wines!

p.s. one that can be fun to throw in, is the above mentioned Chateau Musar (Red) - an individualistic, variable wine that often shows much more complexity than it’s price.

While “see if you can guess what kind of red wine this is” is occasionally interesting (and always humbling), I think blind tasting is mostly a format that makes sense within a category or theme. I’d suggest you make each flight have some logic to it.

If you don’t want to keep the theme too narrow (e.g. here are four different 2012 Sonoma pinots), try something like one variety but from several different regions. For example, 2012 pinots, one from New Zealand, one from Burgundy, one from Sonoma, one from Oregon. Keep the quality and price in a reasonable range, not only because that makes the outcome more meaningful, but I assume you’re not looking to embarrass anyone at an occasion like this.

Since it’s for your friend’s dad, do the themes within categories and/or using producers that are favorites of his. If, say, Williams Selyem is a favorite of his, do a blind flight with two different WS pinots and two other good California pinots in a similar style and quality.

Good luck.