Monday, November 01, 2010

Wine in disguise, yields a Shiraz surprise...

wines wearing brown paper bags The unknown wines (cue the music from the Gong Show).

Just in time for a Halloween weekend, I received an invite to a private blind wine tasting. The event was hosted by the amiable Laurent Guinand of Giramondo Wine Adventures, and sponsored by Yellowtail Wine. There were similar tastings taking place in 19 other cities (Boston, NYC, etc.) and a video simulcast featuring John Casella of Yellowtail, which had an audio quality appropriate for the weekend (not so great--extremely dark, shaky video might have made it complete), along with many folks tweeting.

Anyhoo, there were six other tasters, a fun lot in all, who were all much more experienced tasters, but after sniffing, swirling, tasting, hashing and shouting our opinions, we basically came to some of the same conclusions. One of my favorite folks complained, rightly, that the wines seemed "overcooked." All four wines were drinkable, and the third was preferred to the others, though Laurent mentioned that they didn't pique his interest.

the four red winesTada! After we all sampled the wines, it was revealed that all the wines were Shirazes, specifically Australian Shirazes. Kristen correctly guessed that wine #4, with the forthright fruit, was the Yellowtail. Wine #3 (I forget the brand) was the most expensive, was liked better than the others, but not worth its price.

We were all shocked that as different as these wines were from each other, that they were Shirazes from the same small area of the globe. While they were drinkable (I thought that #3 was good after it settled a while--it definitely needs to breathe), they showed no depth or nuance, which probably accounts for their boring Laurent (and me as well). Perhaps the grapes are so overheated in their little corner of the globe that acidity and other factors that increase complexity inadvertently cook out. (Similar to green tea leaves that are exposed to boiling water, which can "stew" or "cook" them, driving out their best flavors.)

Nonetheless, looking forward to another event (that is, if I'm invited back), which proves that education can be fun!

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