There is nothing as humbling as blind-tasting wine. But along with the humbling experience comes knowledge, if you can get over yourself. I know this from experience. One of the best learning experiences in my wine journey was attending weekly wine tasting at a local wine shop. Every week we tasted six wines, all placed in paper bags (and labeled 1 through 6, unless they were labeled A through F. Yes, there’s a story there.)
Anyway, the wine shop owner organized these tastings around a wine region or grape variety, which we knew ahead of time. He would pour each wine in turn and ask for a volunteer to describe the wine. Your’s truly rarely lifted her hand to volunteer, but when called upon I would, with some difficulty initially, describe the wine.
He required us to describe the wine using our own words but describing the color, aromas, flavors, acidity, tannins, length. Initially I didn’t have the vocabulary to describe what I saw, smelled and tasted. With experience I learned the vocabulary and gradually learned to trust my observations.
Group tastings in the time of COVID are unthinkable, at least for me. The current pandemic notwithstanding, if you don’t have a wine shop or wine school near you your learning options are limited. Master The World can guide you in your wine journey by providing blind wine tastings at home. I recently received a six-bottle Master The World tasting kit as a sample for review and found the experience both educational and humbling.
About Master The World
Master The World, a new wine education platform created by business partners, Limeng Stroh (Co-founder/CEO) and Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein (Co-founder/Chief Wine Officer). Over the course of five years the business partners figured out how to package and ship wine in 187 ml glass bottles, created a tasting grid and enlisted a group of Master Sommeliers to help them taste and complete tasting grids for every wine they offer through Master The World. And they act as tasting coaches as well.
The tasting grids will teach you an organized and structured method to describe and identify wine using a specific and detailed vocabulary. You may choose a one-time tasting kit, a monthly or yearly subscription. Limeng and Evan have created an online wine community staffed by Master Sommeliers to guide your wine education. Online webinars provide you the opportunity to meet Master Sommeliers to taste with and answer your questions. And it’s always fun to meet up with other wine enthusiasts.
My Master The World Tasting Experience
The Master The World tasting kit I received was in conjunction with an online presentation titled Today’s Chile: Right Place, Right Time, Right Wines as part of the Full Circle Beverages Conference. I knew the wines were from Chile, but knew no details beyond that. I received six bottles of wine, 187ml glass bottles sealed with a screw cap, that were labeled by Kit number and 1 through 6.
The day before the online seminar I logged on to the Master The World website, accessed the tasting grids for the kit number I received, and entered what I saw and tasted for each wine.
Each evaluation included:
- Sight: brightness, clarity, color depth, color, highlights, bubbles
- Aroma & Taste: included 22 categories to evaluate
- Structure: residual sugar, acid, alcohol, phenols, texture, finish, complexity
- Your deductions: vintage, grape, geography, country, larger region, smaller region
As you can see there were a lot of details to document for each wine and some of it was above my skill level. I did my best using the vocabulary I am familiar with and submitted my answers after completing all six wines. For each wine my answers for every attribute were displayed along with the panel evaluation. And my answers were color coded as correct, incorrect or partially correct. Love that partially-correct answer!
What I Learned
- The panel’s answers were much more detailed than mine. Clearly I’m not used to thinking as critically about aromas and flavors.
- Go with your first impression. I only correctly identified the grape variety of two of the wines. (It would have been three, but I changed my mind at the last minute on one wine.)
- As humbling as this experience was, I could see with practice I would learn the vocabulary and learn to slow down and think more critically about grape variety, vintage, geography, etc.
Master The World is an excellent way to train yourself to think more critically about how you see, smell and taste wine. It would make an excellent gift for the wine lover in your life with a serious interest in wine. If not for the holidays, then for a birthday or anniversary.
Thanks to Master The World and Creative Palate Communications for this humbling and educational experience.