Blind tasting - not just for experts

What is blind tasting?

Picture this: You’re at your favourite cellar door, sipping the latest vintage of your favourite wine, with the winemaker pouring for you.

Magic!

In a situation like that you’re basically guaranteed to enjoy your tasting. You’re coming into that environment pre-qualified, emotionally involved from the very start.

But what about if you didn’t know what the wine is? And you tasted it in amongst a whole lineup of other choice tipples? Would you still enjoy the wine as much?

Welcome to the world of ‘blind tasting’, a form of wine tasting (or drinking) that removes all of the emotion of a wine and just focuses on what’s in the glass. The theory is that with no bias and no back story, the greatest wines just shine through.

What’s most intriguing about this form of tasting is the results it throws up – videos like this show just how little correlation there is between quality and price. Theoretically a bottle of Grange up against a $15 Barossa Shiraz and most people would probably choose the cheaper, more accessible, and juicier wine, largely because it is easier to drink.

Further, most people will actually rate a wine higher when they are told it is more expensive, a nod to how much ‘value’ we give something based on its price.

But that poses a larger, more philosophical question – does knowing what is in your glass make it taste even better? Does that sense of anticipation fuel your enjoyment?

A recent study in the states found that the more we know about a wine, the more we appreciate the context, the rarity and how it works with food, the more we are likely to enjoy it.

If there is one thing that blind tasting is useful for, however, it is finding bargains. With the quality price correlation quite muddied, you’ll be surprised how good some cheap wines really do taste, particularly from some of our larger wine companies (who can really leverage economies of scale).

Want to see this in action? Get 4 wines you’ve never tried before, ideally all the same grape, and pour them into four numbered glasses (write the number on the bottom). Then have a sniff and a taste and work out which one you like best.

I can almost guarantee that the results will surprise you. What’s more, it is loads of fun trying to pick which wine is which.

Go on, have your own blind tasting today!

(Photo by Stuart Richards )