Blind Tasting Is Difficult: JM, JM and JM score big in Syrah vs. Cabernet trials

By Jesse on May 5, 2008

Apparently, if your name is Joe Marcello, Jordan Marks, or Jason Meltzer, you’re really good at blind tasting. For those of us with other initials, it’s more of a challenge. And why shouldn’t it be? So much of the way that winos (especially young ones) learn to evaluate what’s inside the bottle is by first looking at the outside. This is true for most people, I’d assume; a lot of what we perceive in a smelling and tasting wine is dependent upon a set of expectations we form upon glancing at the label. Benny Hill clearly understood this, which made his job a whole lot easier:

So how do the Winos fare when faced with the prospect of tasting seven random bottles of Cab and Syrah without the benefit of any visual clues? Well, some better than others…

In our first blind tasting since last year’s March Madness event, the Winos tasted seven bottles completely blind. Jason and I compiled the selection that day; the final blend included four Syrahs and three Cabs, as well as one each that we drank openly as “primers” before beginning the blind tasting. The actual wines and their tasting notes can be found here.

In the first round of four, only three Winos guessed all four wines correctly: JM, JM, and and JM, while several others posted respectable 3-point finishes.

First Round
4-for-4: Joe, Jordan, (Jason)
3-for-4: Andrew, Jessica, Jeremy, (Jesse)
2-for-4: Four Winos
1-for-4: Three Winos
0-for-4: One Wino

(As indicated by the parentheses, Jason and I didn’t really figure into the competition, since we had the marked advantage of knowing how many bottles of each varietal were present, as well as which labels they were. So we raised the stakes and engaged in a little one-on-one: the winner would be the Wino who guessed correctly the most specific bottles, since only he and I knew what these were. Results below.)

In the next round, results were undeniably skewed by the presence of a bottle that, as described here, smelled and tasted like sewage, prompting several Winos to pour it out. However, impressive results were still turned in:

Second Round
3-for-3: Allison, (Jason), (Jesse)
2-for-3: Andrew, Jeremy, Joe, Jordan, Katie, Noah, Sunil
1-for-3: Three Winos
0-for-3: Two Winos

Overall totals:
7-for-7: (Jason)
6-for-7: Joe, Jordan, (Jesse)
5-for-7: Andrew, Jeremy
4-for-7: Allison, Brian, Jessica, Noah, Sunil
3-for-7: Two Winos
2-for-7: One Wino
1-for-7: Zero Winos
0-for-7: One Wino (ouch!)

And as for the Jason vs. Jesse bragging rights match:
–I missed one varietal in the first round, which threw everything off, and I went 0-for-4 on specifics. In the second round, I felt a new sense of urgency and determination, and I went 3-for-3.
–Jason, however, coasted to a 4-for-4 showing in the first round and polished it off with a 3-for-3 second, guessing every single exact bottle correctly.

Naturally, I won’t allow such a disproportionate result to go unavenged. There will be many more challenging and edutoxicating blind tastings in the Winos’ near future. Stay tuned!


  1. Who’s the man?

    Comment by jasonm1 — May 6, 2008 @ 1:34 pm

  2. What kind of newb goes 0 for 7??? She should be banned for life.

    Comment by Mary — May 6, 2008 @ 2:18 pm

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