04/23/08 – Syrah vs. Cabernet blind tasting

By Jesse on April 20, 2008


In a lot of ways, our weekly sessions are almost like a college course. Each week we discuss a different topic in our field, each week we participate in hands-on learning with multiple examples to compliment our discussion, and each week we (hopefully) learn something. The only glaring absence has been the lack of any kind of evaluation element. When’s the big exam? Well… it’s right now.

Pop quiz, folks! This week we’re doing a Syrah vs. Cabernet Sauvignon blind tasting. That’s right — nine bottles of blind-guessing mayhem, with nothing but your acute senses of smell and taste to lead you to correct determinations of what grapes you’re enjoying. We’ll even have our own theme song:

When the Winos pop a test,
I know I’m in a mess,
Cause my dog drank all my Pinot last night.

And I’m sittin’ here thinkin’,
“What’s this grape that I’m drinkin?”
If I’m hung over tomorrow it’ll be all right.

It’s all right, cause I’m saved by the nose!!

This is our first blind tasting in over a year, and we’re doing things a little differently this time. First of all, nobody brings a bottle… Jason and I will go out and purchase nine bottles specifically for the tasting, and then everybody brings a $10 entrance fee. We’ll have bottles from all over the world: Syrah from the Rhone, from California, and from Australia, and Cab from Bordeaux, California, Washington State, and hopefully Australia and/or South America as well. The bottles will be bagged and adequately disguised to prevent any hints from being made evident — bottle shape, color of foil, etc.

We’ll start with a quick cramming session: one bottle of Syrah and one bottle of Cab, which we can discuss as a group, so everyone knows what they’re looking for. Then it’s go time: we’ll blind-taste a lineup of four bottles, two Syrahs and two Cabs, in a random order. (It might be advisable to bring pens and paper on which to make notes of what you’re tasting.) Once we’ve tasted the four in complete silence, people will make their judgments and submit their guesses in writing, after which the bottles are revealed and points tallied. We’ll check how accurate our palettes were, make any necessary adjustments, and then plunge into the remaining three: either two Syrahs and one Cab or two Cabs and one Syrah, you just don’t know! After the conclusion of this group, points will again be tallied, high-scorers congratulated, and cheese served. Then we’ll polish off the rest of the juice. A perfect evening.

Again, do not bring a bottle. All the wines will have already been purchased. Simply bring ten dollars and your A-game. Meeting will be held Wednesday night at Jason’s place in Brentwood, and you’ll receive the address when you RSVP. Once you’ve gotten your confirmation e-mail, go study up on those tricky Syrahs and those elusive Cabs, and we’ll see your bad selves on Wednesday at 9pm.