What are blind wine tastings?
Blind wine tastings are set up by wine professionals to taste wine without knowing the brand or name of the wine, the origin, vintage or grape varieties. The wine is therefore usually bagged in thick material so the labels are not visible. So in this ways the wines are tasted blind; hence the name.
The Liquor Barons Panel Tasting
The Liquor Barons Panel which meets every other week is made up of ten wine professionals. They taste wines by category; based on styles/grape varieties e.g. Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris and Pinot Noirs one week, SSB/SBS and red blends the next. On the Panel, it is more common for Australian wines to be judged and tasted regularly but once every two months, international wines are sampled.
Tasting wines blind where the bottles are bagged with thick material means the group cannot see the labels and subconsciously start assessing before tasting. This type of set up of tasting and assessing ensures there is no bias or subconscious positive or negative judging. It also means the price of the wine is not known and therefore again, no subconscious or conscious assessing based on what is expected in a cheaper or more expensive bottle of wine. This ensures and lets the wine speak for itself. The wine is judged based on appearance, nose and flavour profile. Its fruit, structure, acidity, tannin and length are all assessed.
Blind tasting is not just common on the Panel but when assessing and judging wines for wine competitions such as the International Wine Challenge. Also when studying the prestigious Master of Wine or Wine Spirit Education Trust exams, students also taste blind and have to assess and conclude the country and wine region of those wines plus grape varieties, price point and wine making style.
Why does the Panel meet?
The Liquor Barons Panel meets to judge and assess and taste wine with other wine professionals. It is the chance to view the latest vintages, small parcels and the wines that fit best into the category. The tasting is categorised into different styles; Chardonnay and Shiraz one week or International Reds and rosés another.
Who is on the Panel?
The Panel is made of wine industry professionals; writers, judges, store managers and owners, winemakers, importers and wine educators.
Stef, at Swanny Cellars, chairs the Panel alongside Rod who writes up the tasting notes which are then submitted and published in the quarterly On the Vine magazine. With Rod’s 40 years’ experience in the wine trade, he plays a key role on the Panel. The On the Vine magazine highlights the top 24 wines that the Panel has tasted and assessed over the past 3 months. The latest issue is always out in stores on the first day of the new season; 1st June, 1st September, 1st December and 1st March.
The Liquor Barons Tasting Panel is unique not just in how the tastings are set up twice a month but by the people who are the members. Each person on the Panel comes from different backgrounds, experience and professions which they bring to the tasting group and makes for some interesting discussions!
We will be posting information about each of the Panel members on the blog next week so watch this space!