You’ve no doubt heard of a blind wine tasting before - a wine tasting where the label is covered. The idea is matching how good of wine connoisseur you are to be able to discern the wine. But this wasn’t the kind of wine tasting I attended. And no, it wasn’t anything 50-shades-kinkyesque either. This was all about elevating your senses by taking away one. This was Tasting in the Dark by Francis Ford Coppola wines.
You know the name Francis Ford Coppola from his legendary films. What if he were to take away all of the images? Your senses would suddenly be on high alert —the sound of a child laughing in the background of the scene, the scent of the perfume of the woman in the row behind you, and the saltiness of your popcorn. Now he’s This is the premise of Tasting in the Dark.
As our “tasting group” gathered, we were each given blindfolds. Instructed that we’d put our hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us, we slowly and very carefully walked into to our seminar room. Curious why we couldn’t just put the blindfolds on after arriving in the seminar room, we’d find out the reason why at the end of our blind wine tasting experience.
Hoby Wedler, recently awarded Forbes Magazine 30 under 30 for Food and Drink, was our host of the unusual wine tasting. Initially, we were given different items to smell, a bit of a warm up for our sense of smell. Anise was easy to identify as the strong smell of licorice was present. Vanilla bark was harder to discern. But one thing was for sure, it really helped hone in on our sense of smell.
Next, three different wines were placed in front of us. The white with fruity notes was easily identifiable. The reds, although easy to pick out different hints of cherry, vanilla and other notes were not as easy to identify. This was a fascinating way to explore wines. The subtle nuances of wine are no longer so subtle, instead having our full attention. Breath in the flavor of the fruit. Feel the tannins. You realize how much more you get out of tasting wines like this.
Wedler says blindfolds help participants concentrate on the wine, accentuating the sensory experience of its flavors and aromas. He would know, being blind himself. Now it made sense why we were blindfolded before entering the room. Our host didn’t want us to have any preconceived notions of him or the blind tasting. “You’re really focusing just on the wine and not on the visual cues,” Wedler says. You bring your curiosity, they’ll bring the blindfolds.
Malika Bowling is the author of Culinary Atlanta: Guide to the Best Restaurants, Markets, Breweries and More!, and founder of Roamilicious. Malika also has served as a judge at various culinary competitions and food festivals, including Taste of Atlanta. Her podcast, Just a Byte, can be downloaded from iTunes. Follow her on Twitter @MalikaBowling and Instagram.