Thursday, February 07, 2008

My Foray into Blind ID'ing Wine

Some people can taste a wine blind, knowing nothing about it at all, and are able to identify it. I've heard of people who can do this in incredible detail, down to the vineyard and vintage. I must say, I've never seen this, but I believe that it's true.

Do these people train for this? Can you develop this kind of skill, or is it more of a "you either got it or don't got it" kind of thing?

I decided about 6 months ago that I wanted to out-do these people, the folks who taste blind and confidently declare "this is definitely an Opus One, and the slightly lower concentration makes me think it's an 02. No Doubt about it - Opus One." But I can't beat them at their own game because I don't taste enough wine like that to even play with these people. So I devised a new game, an insidiously challenging one, one that honestly can make you want to cry at times, it's so frustrating.

I have spent the last 6 months privately training myself in the art of blind ID'ing wine, but without tasting it. No, I don't smell it either. I ID the wine without even opening the bottle. I'm talking about wearing a blindfold and merely handling the bottle. I know it sounds weird, but I've become somewhat of an expert, I would humbly assert. It is an art, not a science. Some of it is recognizing the feel of the label, the size and shape of it, the size and shape of the smaller label on the back. Some it more about sensing the wine inside.

Let me share with you the results of my most recent training exercise. This took place in Deetrane's cellar, where there are at least 2,000 wines from all over the world, the bounty of three different wine drinkers, myself included. And remember, this is really difficult, and my success rate is still low, so cut me some slack.

Wine 1 - Bordeaux shaped bottle, smooth glossy label. Felt like a white. I guessed the 2000 Smith Haut-Lafitte Blanc. It was an 01 Coutet Sauternes, so that's not too bad.

Wine 2
- Burgundy shaped bottle, deep impression on the bottom, small rectangle shaped label.It felt fruity and rich, like a red wine. I guessed the 2002 Louis Boillot Pommard 1er Cru Les Fremiers. It was a 1999 Beaucastel CdP Blanc. Not really very close on that one.

Wine 3 - Burgundy shaped bottle, seemed kind of wider than most, felt like a white wine, and a minerally wine, something edgy. I guessed the 2004 Louvetrie Muscadet Fief du Breil. I was wrong. Let's just leave it at that - I was wrong, okay?

Wine 4 - Burgundy shaped bottle, this time I was certain it was a white wine, big square label, big label on the back, seemed like a generous and fruity wine, something new world. And it felt like a young wine. I guessed the 2005 Kistler Durell Vineyard. It was, in fact 2005 Kistler, but Dutton Ranch, not Durell. But you can see how I made that mistake.

Wine 5 - Bordeaux shaped bottle. It felt sleek and impressive, a beautiful feel. Majestic, in an old world sort of way. 1st growth, I felt, but not yet mature, a young wine. I went with the 2004 Mouton, after almost going with the 2002 Lafite. It was a flower vase Deetrane gave me as a curve ball.

So as you can see, I need more training. But you surely also agree that there are flashes of talent here. Soon, very soon, I'm going to spring this on know-it-all blind tasters and then they'll be sorry!


Edward said...

Very funny!
Have a look at this for some additional covert tricks.


Brooklynguy said...

thanks edward. i thought so too. seems like it's just you and me who think this is funny.

Anonymous said...

Just read this. Made me laugh!

Joe said...

Like all great athletic pursuits, I think you need both skill and hard work! I always get the flower vase wrong. "Already know you that which you need." Cheers!