Lable or content? – How do you judge your bubbly? …Honestly?

I love blind tastings. I love them because they are so honest. There is just the wine and your taste buds, nothing else to lean back on.

Maybe I like this form of tasting because I’ve never felt the pressure to ”like the right stuff”, so I can really relax and be honest. But the wine world is a curious place and not always that welcoming if you don’t have the right skills or opinions. This makes people nervous and I guess that might also be the reason for many to avoid blind tastings. It can be such prestige to name the wines by grape, producer, vintage or what ever is the task at hand. In my opinion that is not what’s interesting, and it has never been my goal to be good at that kind of thing. I focus instead on what I like, and helping others in finding what they like, and that I’m really good at.

Hosting blind tastings I always have one goal, namely finding out what people really like when they turn just to themselves and stop caring about labels, price tags, and ”know-it-all” wine people telling them what is good and what is not. Getting people to do this can be rather tricky though, for there is a notion that you should like certain types of wine to ”have good taste”. For example, to admit that you don’t like the certain style that Champagne has… that takes guts. Because by doing so you basically break every social code there is. Champagne is the essence of passion, glamour, good taste, luxury ect. And by saying you don’t like it, you kind of put your self out of all those contexts too, and who does not want to be glamour’s and have good taste?

So making people let go of all these preconceptions and instead focus on what they like (or maybe don’t like) about each wine, is much more interesting. During these tastings lively discussions always break out after a while when the participants has taken the task to heart. Some people like the ”peachiness” in one glass, others the high acidity in another or maybe the smell of roasted nuts in the third, and this is where it gets interesting. Because by letting consumers focus on what particular tastes or aromas they like in a wine, I can guide them in what style, grape, method or maybe area they might find more bubbly wines to enjoy. It simply makes the wine hunt easier.

In my personal opinion life is all about good wine, nice food and the company of those I love and like to spend time with. If the wine I drink costs 10 Euros or 100 Euros does not really matter as long as I like it, and it goes well to the food and or occasion. Sometimes it is cava, other times it is Champagne or sparkling from South Africa.

And if you think about it too, would you not honestly be happier to drink something that you really love, rather than something someone else really loves or says is good taste?

Champagne and Cava in a tie

Friday the 3rd of February I held a Chardonnay tasting of sparkling wines, and three of four wines were made by the traditional method.

I really wanted to know how the wines differ in character.

The small cellar in Stockholm’s Old Town where I have tastings sometimes only holds 12 people, and unfortunately 4 of my guests had caught the flu and could not come. So we were 9 happy  people that were curious to try these wines. The tasting was blind to get an honest opinion about the wines.

The wines we tried were these:

  1. Chapel Hill sparkling Chardonnay: Made by charmat method in Hungery. Costs about 5 €
  2. Graham Beck Blanc de Blanc brut: traditional method from South Africa. About 10 €
  3. Juvé y Camps Milisimé Brut: Traditional method/ Cava. About 14 €
  4. Palmer Co Blanc de Blancs: Traditional method/ Champagne. About 30 €

 

When everyone had had the time to taste the wines and think about them for a while by them selves, we discussed them and at the end every one had to choose their favourite.

Chapel hill got 1 vote. On the grounds that it was fruity, welcoming and uncomplicated.

Graham Beck got 0 votes. Most thought it was ok when really cool, but then it started to smell and taste of yoghurt, sour milk and … cat pee

Juvé Camps Milisimé got 4 votes. A well structured and a fresh total experience, with a good balance and nice fruitiness.Very powerful.

Palmer & Co got 4 votes. Many flavours, well balanced and a nice minerality. Nice acidity.

So the conclusion is that in our small group the Cava and Champagne tied on the first place. But I must say that the experiment of tasting them all at once and comparing them was very exciting indeed, and I really recommend you to do it too.