Inside a low lit room are tables littered with wine glasses, appetizer plates, and the occasional eruption of laughter. Off to the side of the room there is a well placed platter filled with cheese and fruit. My stomach grumbles. I skipped lunch today and am more interested right now in cheese and crackers than the main event. But, I change my mind when the first round is introduced into the room. The first noticeable characteristic to our setting is the bittersweet fragrance wafting into the room. Everyone looks up expectantly as the servers make their way to each table, gracefully pouring our first glass for the evening. Thus begins our a wine tasting..
Guests range from the young and inexperienced to wine enthusiasts. Our host urges everyone to load up their plates with food, as we will be blind tasting 14 wines this evening. My stomach reminds me of my lack of sustenance for the day and I gladly fill my plate with extra hummus and crackers. Back in our seats, the tasting begins with 3 white wines followed by 11 reds. We have a rating sheet and as I fill my own out I hear others commentary: “smooth finish”, “too woody”, “nice legs”. Since I know more about cooking than wine tasting, most of my comments end up being related to my favorite ingredients. I even take the liberty to compare one wine to a walk in the park on cool, crisp fall day. One of my favorite parts of this wine tasting is the stark difference in smell for each wine. Some smell like vanilla, others hot & spicy, and still others like a fresh garden herb or apple tart. I spend more time smelling than tasting.
As the evening winds down (and the laughter begins to roar), our host describes the purpose of our blind tasting. A vineyard, tucked away in southern France, will be introducing a new wine onto the market in the next few months. Our comments and ratings will be serve as part of the determination of which wine makes the cut. I am excited and saddened by the news, hoping my favorite pick of the night makes the list. I leave with a new sense of love for red wines (I had always sworn by whites until now), a cool trick for swirling wines, and motivation to learn as much about wine as I can!
The Fresh Fridge Tip: To release the most aroma from your wine, swirl it in your glass. A good way to ensure no spills is to hold the bottom of the stem firmly on the table and swirl the glass around.