A wine tasting is a great way to get some friends together, try a few new wines and learn something new about your own palate. The Hungry Southerner recently hosted our first wine blind tasting. We had a great time discussing (and sometimes debating) the virtues and drawbacks of the five Spanish reds we sampled.
We invited 10-12 friends over and asked everyone to bring a red wine from Spain and a tapas dish, in keeping with the theme. We placed a $30 per bottle limit on all submissions and asked everyone to cover the label on their bottle. As the guests arrived, we decanted each bottle, numbering them from 1 to 5 and gave everyone a tasting sheet with space to rate each wine over four dimensions of Sight, Aroma, Flavor and Overall Drinkability.
We started the evening with the tapas, serving white and rosé Cava with dinner. The Cava wasn’t included in the tasting but complimented the amazing variety of tapas we had to enjoy – the food was amazing and warrants a blog entry all its own. Some of the food included flank steak tacos with green chili sauce, grilled citrus shrimp, dates wrapped in prosciutto, patatas fritas, mushroom bruschetta and grilled red wine glazed lamb chops.
After dinner we got down to business, tasting the following five Spanish reds:
- Campo Viejo Crianza 2006 Tempranillo
- Monte Oton 2008 Garnacha
- Tres Picos Borsao 2008 Garnacha
- Cal Blanca Toro 2007 Tempranillo
- Convento Oreja Roble 2005
We tasted one to two ounces of each wine separately, taking time after each to discuss the sight, aroma and flavor dimensions. While feeling very fancy throwing around phrases like “hints of vanilla” and “heavy on the front of the tongue”, everyone made specific tasting notes and assigned the wine scores for each dimension and an overall score from 1-5. Between wines, we had breadsticks and water as palate cleansers.
As it turns out, the Monte Oton Garnacha was the winner with the Campo Viejo Tempranillo coming in a close second. Our tasting notes for the Monte Oton described this $11 wine as tasting of earthy grapes, mild, lovely fruity bite, lavender, balanced, and good all-purpose party wine. The wine is made from 100% Garnacha grapes, has a soft purple color and is 14.5% ABV.
Besides tasting some great wines, we really enjoyed comparing the wines, picking out differences between them and discovering how much oxygen can affect the taste of a wine. At first taste, the Tres Picos was regarded by everyone as our least favorite because of its sharp flavor and almost non-existent aroma. But over the course of two hours, the aroma and taste deepened into a pleasant mixture of vanilla, tobacco and charred oak.
I hope you’ll try hosting (or attending) a wine tasting with a group of your friends. It doesn’t take much to organize a party with the spirit of Southern warmth; sharing a wonderful evening sipping centuries of food culture in a glass. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night than with good food, wine and friends.Stay Hungry (and Thirsty) Y’all,