Blind Wine Tasting Events – Vertical and Horizontal Tasting


Blind wine tasting is a process that is used to elicit a totally unbiased opinion from a wine taster. During this process the wine taster is not influenced by any factor like the origin of the wine, its producer, age or vintage or its price. Some people have a tendency to favor certain wine producers while some believe that a higher priced wine is definitely better. Blind tasting eliminates these factors and the taster gives a genuine opinion on the quality of a wine.

In blind tasting, the bottle of wine is generally covered with a brown paper bag so that the distinctive shape of the bottle does not disclose its identity. All possible identifying marks like logos of the producer on the stopper are also removed. The wine is then poured into a glass and the process of tasting begins. Sometimes a dark colored glass is used so that the color of the wine is not easily distinguishable.

Blind wine tasting is carried out through various methods like vertical tasting and horizontal tasting. These methods are generally used to find the differences between similar wines.

Vertical Tasting:

In this method of tasting, wines of the same varietal but different vintages are tasted. Varietal is a term used in wine tasting to denote the type or variety of grape that went into the making of a wine. Vintage is simply the year of harvesting of the grapes. This method of tasting is practiced to determine the unique flavors of the same wine preferably of the same producer but from different years.

To commence the actual tasting process about ⅓ of an appropriate wine glass is filled up. The wine is swirled around in the glass. Then the taster smells delightful aroma of the wine. Finally he takes a sip, and rolls the wine around in his mouth for some time. This will allow the taste buds to appreciate the actual flavors of the wine and will also help the taster to identify the different tastes in the wines with more than one flavor. After this the wine is spat out and the palate is cleansed by drinking some water or eating some cheese or crackers before proceeding to the next vintage.

Horizontal Tasting:

 This method of wine tasting involves wines of the same vintage and varietal but from different producers. Normally wines made by various producers of the same wine region are tasted to determine the peculiar style of that particular region. Sometimes horizontal tasting is used to compare wines of the same vintage produced in different regions and even in different countries.

Horizontal tasting can be combined with vertical tasting to taste wines from different varietals and vintages made in the same winery. But while doing this the taster needs to be careful to cleanse his palate frequently. It is also advisable to start with a lighter wine and gradually proceed to the darker wines.

These wine tasting methods are usually employed in blind tasting events to procure impartial observations on the distinctive tastes that help in determining the quality of wines.


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