Blind tasting is like online dating. Don’t ask me how I know. It is easier to know that you like someone if they are appealing to the eye. What if you take time to learn about a person without seeing where they are in that ‘hotness’ meter that we all have. Don’t act like you don’t have a meter. We all rate people in our heads. We also judge wine according to the label, grape and price.
In my recent debunking wine myths article, I talked about how price does not guarantee quality. It is a whole new experience when you can’t see the wine label and make proir judgement. Every time I see a Chenin Blanc, I absolutely know that I will somewhat like it . Even though you bottle something else in there, I have already concluded that I might like it. That is the thing with dating, if you meet someone who is so beautiful or handsome, it is easier to like them.
The invite to attend this tasting came about a week ago (do not break into song!) and I called my friend Olisa to accompany me. Events are always fun when you have great company. The invite said that it would be a Secret Wine Tasting. I love intrigue and every time you say the word secret, I am interested. That explains why I find mysterious people appealing. I was already hooked. I have a ritual where I stay in on Sunday and plan my week or see family but I am so glad I took up Dan (a friend wh0 invited us) on this offer.
I am always impressed by my ability to keep time and you can guess that we were not too late for the event. We arrived at Pango in Fairview Hotel and we found some amazing people who had also been invited for the event. I even met some familiar faces. The tasting was very intimate as we were about 15 people. After downing a glass of champagne and exchanging pleasantries, we were led on a flight of narrow stairs that descended into a cellar that was illuminated by some bulbs. You don’t know the struggle of descending stairs while holding a handbag in one hand and a glass of wine in the other while wearing heels. I’m a serial ‘multitasker’ but it took a lot of concentration not to topple over. After seeing the set up, I immediately knew that I made the right call by attending this event.
Our sommelier of the day was Brilliant Mathelumusa from Capital Club. Every time I meet Brilliant, he is always sharply dressed. He was accompanied by his partner Susan Njeri who was a delight. They both own BSG Secret Vineyard. You can look it up here if you need more info. It is always great to sit in a tasting conducted by someone who knows his stuff. This was my second blind tasting and I have to say, my senses really surprised me. It is amazing what your senses can come up with when you do not know anything about the wine that you are tasting.
The first wine was a white. I could have swore that it was a Chenin Blanc but after some time, I started leaning towards Sauvignon Blanc. It was so fruity and it had medium acidity and an earthy minerality. It was definitely a new world wine from a warm tropical climate. We paired it with some salmon. The salmon had some creamy toppings and the wine just washed it all away beautifully. We also paired it with blue cheese.
The second wine was a light rose that was a mix of two grapes. It was an off dry, youthful wine that smelt of strawberry. The smell also reflected on the taste as it tasted like berries. It was well balanced with medium intensity. We paired it with chicken but the sommelier suggested that it would also go excellently with pork.
The third wine was a ruby red wine that had the characteristics of a Cabernet Sauvignon. I was actually sure of the grape but the flavour profile pointed me to another red grape like merlot. I am still confounded. It smelt of blackberry and strawberry. It had medium tannins and was full bodied.
This out of the box tasting made people decipher different tastes and flavours without judgement or label influence. It was different as it was devoid of any pretentiousness because the sommelier allowed people to be themselves and to voice their honest opinions on the wine. There was no time pressure and people had the patience to learn. I loved this approach. You don’t have to know everything there is to know about wine. You can allow yourself to have fun and to know what you like. I would want to spend my Sundays like this. The event was scheduled to end at 3 pm but we ended up staying until 6pm and we moved stations to the pool. There was more wine, more food, more conversation and more toasts to make. The chef and his family even joined us and I hope to interview him on the blog soon.
This experience taught me not to jump into conclusions before I try something. Don’t decide stuff in your head before you allow yourself to try. You never know. Have a great week!
All photos by Crystal Olisa.