My Top 6 Blind Tasting Pointers

I will certainly say that it’s not necessary to be able to identify a wine variety BLIND in many life settings outside of a wine exam. However, learning blind tasting skills is incredibly valuable for anyone intrigued by the elements that make wine so appealing! These include visual elements, aromas, flavors, and textures! Many of the components in the process you do naturally when tasting wine (they involve all of your senses) …blind tasting is all about fine-tuning them!⁣

Anyone can become “great” at tasting! The process is all about constant practice and committing certain benchmark descriptors of classic varieties to memory! Curious to learn about the process? You can download my free Blind Tasting Guide HERE! (If you are already on my email list, it’s waiting for you in your inbox!)

I also wanted to share some blind tasting TIPS I’ve gathered through the past few years…⁣⁣

Blind Tasting

1. Have a Method

+ use a chart or grid

It’s almost essential to have a system, framework, or grid to help you get to know the process. Eventually, you’ll have this memorized and can pull what you need to from the wines, but knowing all of the components upfront really helps you break it down. Each certification has a method that includes similar components for sight, nose, and palate, and you can find plenty of examples online, like THIS ONE from the Court of Master Sommeliers website!⁣ I have also created a simple one you can download for both WHITES and REDS!  

Blind Tasting

2. Expand Your Palate

+ taste EVERYTHING!

Understanding the benchmark descriptors of certain varieties helps you validate your responses when you blind taste. If you only drink a few varieties, start expanding your palate! Most certifications test for all of the “classics” (Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, etc.), so if you “don’t drink” Pinot Noir, you’ll want to change that mentality for a little bit⁣.⁣ Here’s an easy to follow checklist of CMS Certified testable varieties for WHITES and REDS!

Blind Tasting

3. Do Side By Side Tastings

+ compare wines often! 

Lining up wines and doing side by side tastings is helpful (even if you know the varieties). This allows you to compare wines next to each other and calibrate your palate. It’s easier to identify a descriptor in a glass of wine when you can compare it to another! Try lining up wines with different levels of acidity/tannin, or the same variety from different areas⁣!⁣ I love to have three half-pours of different wines instead of one variety sometimes. It’s like my own personal flight that I can learn from!

Blind Tasting

4. Use Strategies

+ find little tricks to help! 

When you have blinds poured, nose through the wines first, and start with the wine that makes you feel the most confident. This is a trick I was taught before my exam and I have found I am more successful this way. I start with a wine I’m more likely to know⁣⁣ which gives me motivation through the following wines!

Blind Tasting

5. Don't Assume

…or let your first impression lead you to the wrong variety!

Don’t make conclusions based on sight or smell alone. If you do this, you may trick yourself into believing the wine is what you want it to be! Go through the entire process before narrowing down your answer. Put ALL of the puzzle pieces together!⁣⁣ This one is tricky and takes practice, but try and remember it every time you are tasting!

Blind Tasting

6. Be Wrong

Yes, that’s a tip!

Not even the pros are right all of the time! The world of wine is too big, and there are so many elements. How will you ever truly understand the elements unless you get a wine wrong? Being wrong teaches you. Being wrong calibrates your palate. Being wrong allows you to build a taste memory. Everything is based on building from existing knowledge! 

Any other good ones you have come across, please let me know! Blind tasting is a constant learning process! Once you think you are on a roll something new jumps into the equation!

Also, don’t forget to check out the Blind Tasting Guide below if you haven’t started the process, or just want to learn more about the components! I created this guide to help lead you through the process and maybe learn a thing (…or 2 or 10 if you have already started)! Then you can line up 2-4 wines (that you don’t know) and follow the process one wine at a time!

Happy Tasting!

WELCOME

I'm Kendeigh, A Certified Sommelier and Certified Specialist of Wine with a passion for everything wine + beverage. Are you on a journey to learn more about the wine world? The Grape Grind is a platform full of wine inspiration, wine study materials, resources, and personal tastings geared towards your wine journey. Check out the ABOUT tab to learn more!