The Wine Curmudgeon writes a lot about blind tasting and why it matters. Nothing demonstrates this more than what happened when I judged The Dallas Morning News competition earlier this month, where I was able to put my foot firmly in my mouth.
I can't tell you the wine involved here; the results are embargoed until April 15. But I can tell you that my panel gave a gold medal to an absolutely lovely pinot gris. It was easily one of the best wines we tasted over two days and 200 entries -- fresh, crisp and balanced. It tasted much more expensive than it actually is.
So imagine my surprise when I found out what the wine was. That's because I had tasted this wine last fall, as a winery sample, and I was not impressed. I wrote in my notes (on CellarTracker, the unofficial wine inventory software of the Wine Curmudgeon): "It's OK, though it would offer more value at a lower price. Bright fruit and some acid, but it tastes almost manipulated to get it to a certain flavor profile."
That's why blind tasting is essential. I don't know that I had made up my mind before I tasted the sample that I wasn't going to like it, but I do remember looking for flaws more intensely than usual. Maybe I was more cranky than normal, maybe I was suspicious of the brand. Who knows? But the price I paid was to dismiss a quality wine, and that's my loss. Life is too short, and there isn't enough good wine, to throw one away just because you're having a bad tasting day.
The photo is from Jeremy Doorten of Alberta, Saskatchewan, via stock.xchng, using a Creative Commons license