Corporate Event Idea - Blind Wine Tasting Game

By Lindsay Trivers November, 06 2017
The Tasting Class hosts a number of different types of events. Corporate events, blind tasting games, wine and cheese events, private home tastings, and public wine tasting events around Dubai and Abu Dhabi. We now also offer the internationally recognised  WSET qualifications for all levels. Here's an example how a blind tasting game works from a recent client event.

Blind Wine Tasting Game

From the outset, the bottle’s label was covered so tasters could explore each glass free of bias. Seasoned drinkers got a kick out of guessing what kind of wine it might be, and newbies explored what wine they like most free from other people’s opinions and label influence.
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This corporate tasting event set out to discover some of the Spain's indigenous grape varieties, unique wine styles, and teach what wines from some of the most celebrated regions can be expected to taste like.
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Six wines were served, and after the initial blind tasting and some lively table talk, we voted on a group favourite. Next, we revealed the wine labels one by one, and The Tasting Class led a lesson on the important points of each wine.
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Tasters enjoyed a pleasant surprise right out of the gates. The two first wines were white; not really what Spain is most famous for. That said both were stunners and tied with the Rioja Gran Reserva (the most expensive) for wine of the night.
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The first wine was made from the Verdejo grape variety by Bodegas Marqués de Irún. It’s from the Rueda region where grapes mature at an altitude of 750 metres above sea level. Altitude increases how much sun a grape gets without increasing the air temperature, this means the grape gets very flavourful while still keeping its refreshing characters. If you normally enjoy medium bodied refreshing white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio or dry Chenin Blanc you should give this grape a try. That said the Bodegas Marqués de Irún Verdejo specifically has lovely flinty notes over top of the grape’s usual apple and citrus characters that push it into another category of complexity.
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Wine two was Bodegas Navajas Rioja Blanca (approx. retail price 90 AED). It also proved to be a crowd pleaser. This is a label that you’ll find the world over, but despite its far-reaching sales network, Navajas is a family-owned company.
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It’s common to oak white Rioja so we were expecting something more like a toasty Chardonnay, but what we got was a fresh and floral number. The palate was bolder than the aromas with a hit of grapefruit-like acid and a medium body weight. . The third wine of the night was the wild card. No one was expecting the nutty aromas and bone dry salinity of the Lustau Manzanilla Sherry (approx. 160 AED), and it certainly divided the crowd. It was either people’s favourite wine or not their cup of tea at all. Sherry is hugely important to understanding Spanish wine and it warrants a class unto itself to cover all the different types. We touched on its unique solera ageing system, the special flor yeast barrier it grows that protects it from the air as it matures, and we also cleared up the age-old confusion of how Port and Sherry may both be fortified wines but they are worlds apart in their flavour profiles.
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For the fourth wine, we hopped on the Brosé train. Pink wines have been gaining in popularity for years, most recently among men. And since there is an evolving interest in these wines I thought I’d point out what sets Spanish rosé, aka rosado, apart. Rosado is widely made from the Garnacha grape in Spain’s central regions. The land is flat and the temperature is hot, meaning grapes ripen fast and easy, and viticulture can be managed in a cost-effective way, by machine. That’s no reason to shy away from these bright pink drops, however. They are full of red-berry aroma, are dry and have a unique savoury character that makes them food-friendly; especially with grilled seafood and Spanish cured meats like chorizo and jamón.
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The last two wines we had were both red wines from Rioja, but they had different ages and levels of oak. Rioja’s are 80-85% Tempranillo. When they are young they taste of sour cherry, plum, pepper and tomato. As they age they hang on to the cherry characters, but evolve some dried fig notes, vanilla, leather, tobacco, clove and cedar. Rioja classifies their wine with terminology that summarizes how young, oaky and high quality the wines are with these terms, listed from youngest and most affordable, to the oldest, oakiest and most expensive.
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  • (just) Rioja
  • Rioja Crianza
  • Rioja Reserva
  • Rioja Gran Reserva
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All that oak in the Reserva and Gran Reservas has a big effect on the wine’s flavour. To demonstrate this we tasted the Navajas Crianza (approx. retail price 120 AED) beside the Viña Pomal Reserva (approx. retail price 220 AED). The Crianza was bold, but not as bold and robust as the Reserva. It had the classic sour cherry characters, a hint a coconut, eucalyptus and grippy tannins. Comparatively the Viña Pomal Reserva's cherry notes were riper and slightly dried. The coconut character was in full force along with extra notes of vanilla and clove. There was a strong black pepper character, smoke and those grippy tannins were much more apparent.
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What should you drink? If you prefer something bold, but fresh and fruity go for the Crianza; if you love enormous red wines with some spice, smoke and grip, pick up a Reserva, or even a Gran Reserva if it’s an extra special occasion.
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You can hire The Tasting Class for your next corporate event or have us come to your home and run this blind tasting game with your friends. Contact us here.

 

The Wines we tasted

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