Head Sommelier Niels Sluiman puts our taste buds to the test with blind wine tastings to do at home.
Jonah’s is renowned for its award-winning wine list. Although we might be temporarily closed, you can still enjoy a wine tasting experience at home with a blind tasting using these tips from Niels. Whether you’re social distancing at home with family, your partner, or even alone, this is a fun game that can change your perspective on the wines in your cellar.
It’s easy to become stubborn about what we do and don’t like. Blind tastings are a great way to open our minds to different wines without prejudice or judgements based on the label, age or varietal. Someone who would never order Sauvignon Blanc might find that it becomes one of their favourites after a blind tasting.
Niels suggests to start off your bling tasting with what are considered to be classic wines such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz. It will allow you to link your olfactory memories with the glass you have in front of you. Be sure you have enough glasses handy to pour a taste of each wine in a separate glass for each person. Mark each glass or coaster/placemat with a number that corresponds to the same number on the matching bottle so you know which wine is which. Cover the bottles with a sock or paper bag so no one can see. Now you’re ready to taste!
Make sure each person is tasting the same wine at the same time so you can discuss what you taste and share observations. You might like to write down your notes or comments to remind you of what you liked or disliked about each tasting. Niels suggests keeping the following things in mind when trying to guess which wine is which.
“First try to detect one or two fruit flavours. Remind yourself of what apple, citrus, and stone fruits smell like. These scents will usually indicate you’re tasting a white wine. Whereas, strawberry, raspberry or black current flavours would point towards a red wine,” says Niels
If you taste apple, go a little deeper and see if you can decipher what kind of apple it is. If it’s sweet like a tarte Tatin with cooked, caramelised apples it is likely to be a sweeter wine (like a mature Chenin Blanc. Is it acidic like a crunchy green apple or lemon juice? This would be a clue for a sharper white like a Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling.
“Another thing to consider when doing a blind tasting is the five different tastes. Our tongues can detect sweetness, bitterness, acidity, salt and umami. All of these tastes can point you in the right direction to guessing which wine you’re tasting,” explains Niels.
If the wine is giving hints of black pepper, then it could be a shiraz, if the wine is showing a hint of saltiness mixed with citrus it could be a Hunter Valley Semillon, if you’re tasting a hint of bitter hops then it could be a Pinot Grigio.
Now that we have many hours to spend at home, this can be a nice exercise to pass the time and create conversation at the dinner table. Compare notes and be adventurous! There’s no wrong answer. Wine tasting is subjective and the person next to you might taste something completely different to you. Online you can find plenty of descriptions of your favourite wines which you can check afterwards to see whether you were on the right track.
By the time we reopen and you make your next visit to Jonah’s you will have plenty to talk to us about and might even order something out of your usual comfort zone. Ask our expert sommeliers for their suggestions, as our wine list spans over 1600 labels and always offers something new to try.