Wine Tasting

I have heard well-experienced Wine taster are able to tell every detail about Vine once they tasted some from a specific brand. Most sensitive things such as grape type and soil type. Is that true? I’m new to the Wine world…Though I have tasted Wine I don’t know so many things about it?

Patrizia, welcome to WB. Some very experienced wine tasters are sometimes able to tell the grape varietal, region, and other details, but in general this is not easy to do. Even the most experienced tasters can be humbled in a blind tasting.

So true.

There’s a famous quote from the British wine writer Harry Waugh. When asked, “Have you ever mistaken a Bordeaux for a Burgundy wine?” he replied, “Not since lunch!”

Patrizia it’s like anything else. Some people can hear music and then go home and play it on the piano from memory. Some people can recall exactly where they walked on their way through the forest and they can find their way back easily. Others have to work harder to learn how to do those things. Our sensory memories are basically pattern recognition. When tasting, you can distinguish a piece of chocolate from a green pepper. Same with wine. Whatever basic abilities you start with, if you pay attention and remember you will get better.

On the other hand, you can just learn some labels and say you taste whatever you’re supposed to whether or not you really do!

Didn’t Parker have what was called ‘the Golden Palate’ or some such nonsense?

Actually, there are stories of him being terrible at identifying things blind. As I recall, he avoided having to taste blind in public.

Blind tasting is mostly a crapshoot for most people, even people who are incredibly knowledgeable and practice a lot and are presented with not off-the-wall wines. Blind tasting with the intention of guessing the wine correctly is a bit of a parlor trick, but blind tasting to prevent yourself from assessing a wine based on price tag or preconceptions of a region or variety is quite useful I’ve found (and it can be really fun!).

Best I’ve ever done was a blind Syrah tasting where I knew 1 of the wines since I brought it, and knew that the 8 wines were 2 WA, 2 France, 2 CA, 2 Australia and got all the countries correct, guessed which one was mine, and also guessed the producer double blind on one of the WA wines, but that’s a very specific setup in which I was primed to do fairly well as many of the variables I assigned correctly were known ahead of time and Syrah is the grape I drink most often.

Wine Spectator has a daily quiz where they post an anonymized tasting note and multiple choices for region, varietal, etc, it’s pretty fun!

Did blind tasting for WSET Diploma. Did very poorly. Identified the varietal in only 1/4. Beyond that I can usually tell new world from old world but have even missed this a few times.

I’ve been blind tasting wines for 30+ years. Perhaps thousands. Those rare times that I come up with an insightful guess…are dwarfed by the mountain of misses. It sharpens your perceptions and takes a wrecking ball to your preconceptions and palate hubris.


You can experience distinct wines and imprint those various characteristics in you sense memory and train yourself to recall them. A lot of people who are only on the consumption side do a pretty good job of this, especially if they focus on a very narrow range of wines. They sometime also go decades making incorrect assertions of certainty. Many wines are made in ways these markers that might help you identify them are masked. Aging can erode some distinctions, throwing another curve. A lot of issues are stated above, but so what…?

Exploring wine is a journey. Enjoy it. Don’t get distracted by parlor games and whatever peripheral BS that may never matter to you. It’s when you experience a wine that intrigues you that should lead you to ask questions and explore. What was it about this wine that really appealed to me? What else should I try that may also have those aspects? What else sounds compelling to try that’s in a different direction?

Just caught the exact name for the process, “Blind Tasting”. Anyway, I got enough info about blind tasting here, thanks all…

Recognizing wines in blind tastings is not the point of wine tastings.
1st it´s the pleasure - and fun of tasting
2nd it´s estimating the wines quality and future evolution, which is only possible with experience
3rd it´s the ability to describe wines

I´ve also mistaken A for B, and C for A etc. … often.
Wines evolve permanently, and if you have tasted a wine even only a month ago it can show quite differently now.
A mature Bordeaux can be sweet like a Burgundy,
a structured Burgundy like a masculine Bordeaux,
a Barolo spicy like a Cote-Rotie
a Ruländer minerally like a white Bordeaux

On the other hand I sometimes have called wines correctly within a minute - often simply following my gut feeling (which is not the worst way identifying a wine) … it can work perfectly, but there is absolutely no guarantee and you can be miles apart, too.

I’m no amazing blind taster(or even a decent one) but we have a competitive blind tasting champion (national btw) in our WSET Diploma study group. He suggested reading Beyond Flavor by Nick Jackson as a good resource. I’ve been told he also does some free video tastings and walks through his analysis. Might be a place to start if you’re interested.

I guess I am doing it wrong! LOL. I work on all three of those items when I drink wine, whether I am drinking blind or not. For me, blind tasting is sharpening those skills, and a test on what I have learned after studying and practicing those things in other settings.

I love blind tastings, even if I am wrong on my guesses.