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At each Blind Tasting League gathering, using the techniques of the masters, you will learn how to identify the grape, country of origin and more and more as we progress through the wide world of wine. You can pick and choose the classes but the more you come, the more you learn!
Andy Hale has worked in the wine industry for over a decade, first as a server and later as a Sommelier for the 5-Star 5-Diamond rated Sanctuary Hotel at Kiawah Island, located outside of Charleston, SC. After a brief stint as a wine rep, he now runs the education department at Metro Wines where he works to take the intimidation out of choosing the right bottle of wine. He is co-founder of the Asheville School of Wine and Asheville’s Blind Tasting League and teaches classes on wine for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute through UNC Asheville. He is a Certified Specialist of Wine and first level Sommelier.

His hobbies include eating and drinking (wine, beer, liquor or otherwise), hiking, snowboarding, and cooking with his wife, Christina and daughter Josephine. He is also an amateur bee-keeper and home-brewer. He is a native North Carolinian who attended Appalachian State University, before moving to Charleston to further his wine and food education. He loved the culinary scene in Charleston, but is very glad to be back in the mountains of Western North Carolina!

April 6th Blind Tasting Results

The Wine: Sean Minor Sauvignon Blanc, California, 2014

What we Tasted: Pear, Apricot, Honeydew, Red Apple, Honey, White Flowers

What we Guessed: S. American Torrontes, American Pinot Gris, European Chenin Blanc, & S. African Chenin Blanc

What we Thought: Our panel enjoyed it, but wasn’t in love with it. “I think it’s pretty clean” said one taster, another said it wasn’t “too sharp” meaning it wasn’t too acidic. I think this summed up our opinions, “It’s likeable enough. Like Obama said about Hillary.” Wow. Just wow!

The Wine: Cono Sur Bicicleta Chardonnay, Chile, 2015

What we Tasted: Flowery minerality, “Marshmallow Fluff”, Guava, Burnt-Sugar, a Little Oak, Honeydew Melon & Honey

What we Guessed: French Viognier, Chardonnay Blend, & California Chardonnay

What we Thought: Our panel was strongly divided on this one, they loved it or hated it. Some of the comments were “Nice Nose”, “More pleasant than the last” and one commented that it would be “great for a garden party”. A few others dissented. “I’m not big on it” one said, another didn’t “like the finish”, and one simply said “Meh”.

The Wine: Araucano Carmenere, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 2013

What we Tasted: Black Cherry, Vanilla, Red Berry, “Cherry Cough Syrup”, “Fruity Deal”, Pepper & Bacon

What we Guessed: California Zinfandel & Australian Shiraz

What we Thought: This one was a big hit with our group, many thought it was the best in the lineup. The big fruit prompted one to comment that it was “Definitely American”. No one successfully guessed that it was Carmenere (but that’s a really tough one), although everyone enjoyed tasting it!

The Wine: Grayson Cellars Zinfandel, California, 2014

What we Tasted: Strawberry, “Wet Tree Bark”, “Garden Shed”, Orange Peel, Dried Fruit, Dried Cranberries, “Cinnamon Red Hots” and “Blackberry Cotton Candy”

What we Guessed: German Pinot Noir, Gamay Beaujolais, Grenache, Cotes du Rhone blend

What we Thought: This one also was controversial with our panel. Some of the comments were “I’m not big on it” and “Not very good”, although there were also those who said “I like it”, called it “Aromatic” and it was the best in show for two of our tasters! Most everyone thought it was pretty good for a wine under $12.

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March 2nd Blind Tasting Results

 

The Wine: Bodega Gratia Sauvignon Blanc, Valle De Uco,  Argentina, 2013

What we tasted: Apple, Honeysuckle, Unripe Pear, Wet Slate, Citrus and Granite

What we Guessed: South American Sauvignon Blanc, Loire Valley Chenin Blanc, Northern Italian Pinot Grigio, Viognier, Riesling

What we Thought: This was a popular wine with our tasting panel. Most everyone agreed that it was a very enjoyable wine and would probably pair very well with seafood.

The Wine: Novellum Chardonnay, Pays D'Oc, France, 2014

What we tasted: "Juicy Fruit Gum", Vanilla, peachy, over-ripe melon, Dial Soap, Allspice, White Pepper and "Fake Flowers"

What we Guessed: Alsatian Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Viognier, Chardonnay/Semillon Blend

What we Thought: Another popular wine! The nose on it was incredible! Apparently, the wine was aged on Viognier Lees, giving it a very complex, spicy flavor which I loved, but only one of us guessed it was Chardonnay.

The Wine: Calcu Cabernet Franc, Colchagua Valley, Chile, 2012

What we Tasted: Black Cherry, "Chocolate covered strawberries", Vanilla, Raspberry, Spice, Nutmeg, and Herbaceous

What we Guessed: French Syrah, Italian Nebbiolo, Grenache/Syrah, S. American Cabernet Sauvignon

What we Thought: Again, our panel really enjoyed this one. I, personally, enjoyed the tannic bite, while others enjoyed the "velvety" flavor of the wine. Definitely one of the biggest Cabernet Francs I have ever tried and a fantastic value!

The Wine: Punto Final Malbec, Argentina, 2014

What we Tasted: Diesel Fuel, Cinnamon & Spice, Clove, "Blackberry Pie", Iodine, Cement, Ammonia and Pepper

What We Guessed: Zinfandel, Syrah/Shiraz, Sangiovese and "Cheap-Merlot"

What we Thought: Not a popular one with our tasting panel. "Unbalanced", "Finishes like Hairspray" and "Good if it was $4". One taster noted that it smelled like "Blackberry Pie", but after tasting it changed it to "Canned Blackberry Pie Filling". We also had a hard time guessing what we were drinking, we thought it was a little "Varietally Indestinct".

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February 3rd Blind Tasting Results

The Wine: Loosen Bros "Dr L." Riesling, Mosel, Germany, 2014

What we Tasted: Citrus, Green Apple, Pineapple, Floral, "Fruity-Sulfury Dishwater", Green-tea, Stone, Spiced Apple & Peachy

What we Guessed: Viognier, California Riesling, Washington State Riesling

What we Thought: This wine got mixed reviews from our group. Some liked it (myself), some thought it was ok and some disliked it. Comments were "I'd have a glass", "Not bad" and one "Not my style". Overall not bad for an off-dry wine.

The Wine: Reserve des Vignerons Chenin Blanc, Saumur, France, 2014

What we Tasted: Rose, Herbs, musk, "Hard as a rock pear, in a good way", Fruity-finish, "Chalky-Stony" and "Dial Soap".

What we Guessed: French Chenin Blanc, French Viognier, New World Sauvignon Blanc

What we Thought: This acidic wine pleased our tasters! Comments were "I could drink more than one glass!", "Big nose!" and "Great food wine!". Overall, a good showing for an $11.49 bottle of wine!

The Wine: Espelt Garnacha, Emporda, Spain, 2012

What we tasted: Blackberry, black cherry, cranberry, anise, spice & "Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice".

What we Guessed: Hot climate Syrah, New World Grenache, California Cabernet/Merlot Blend

What we Thought: Mixed reviews on this one also. " I like it" said one taster who later said it was her favorite of the evening. "Too hot" said another, meaning the alcohol was too high. Most everyone thought it was an enjoyable wine.

The Wine: Gen 5 Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, california, 2012

What we Tasted: "Forest floor", Mushroom, Herbaceous, Dried fruit, "Plummy-Pruney", Wooly, Raisins, and "Birch-sap"

What we Guessed: Cotes du Rhone Blend, Cabernet Franc, New World Syrah, Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre Blend, California Zin.

What we Thought: A big hit for an affordable Zin! One taster said she could "Smell it all day", another called it "better than most", although one said it was "too Herby". Overall, a good showing!

 

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January 6th Blind Tasting Results

The Wine: Reserve des Vignerons Chenin Blanc, Saumur, France, 2014

What we tasted: Peach, Pineapple, Lemon Skin, "Circus Peanut Candy", Flowers, Crsuhed Chalk, Ginger

What we Guessed: N. Italian Pinot Grigio, Dry Riesling, French Chenin Blanc

What We Thought: Our crew loved the nose but felt it lost a little something on the palette. Our comments were "meyer lemon", 'Citrus" and "Briny", as well as "Refreshing", "Ought to be effervescent" and "Needs Food".

The Wine: Valle Dorado Chardonnay, Central Valley, Chile, 2014

What we tasted: Stone-Fruit, Honey, "Bit-O-Honey Candy", vanilla, Spice, Honey Suckle, Orange Blossom, "Touch of oak", and "Malo".

What We Guessed: Sauvignon Blanc, S. American Fume Blanc, Australian Pinot Grigio, South American Chardonnay

What we Thought: Overall this one was a hit, especially for such a low price point wine! Our team said "Pleasant", "Balanced", "Creamy Mouthfeel" that it had a "Longer Finish" and that there was "More to it". One member said he wanted to "drink it with Oysters". Overall a very good showing!

The Wine: Cousino-Macul Cabernet Sauvignon, Central valley, Chile, 2013

What we tasted: "Bark", Green pepper, Cherry Pie, Blueberry, Brambles, "Tart, Ripe and Jammy Fruit", Cranberry, Bitter Chocolate, Coffee, Spice, "Dirty Feet" and Oak.

What We Guessed: Sicilian Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, Syrah

What we Thought: "I like it" said one taster, and most of us agreed. It had a rustic flavor that most of us enjoyed, one member said it tasted like "it had been aged in an attic" while I described it as "Gamey". Overall a good wine for the money!

The Wine: Stone Cap Syrah, Colombia Valley, Washington State, 2012

What we Tasted: red Fruit, Raspberry, Leather, Cedar, "Raspberry Laffy-Taffy", Pencil lead, Cassis, "bamboo Rocks", and fruity.

What we Guessed: Loire Vally Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, "Cheap Merlot"

What we Thought: While most agreed it was mostly unoffensive, we all agreed it was "too Fruity" and one said it tasted like "Now & Later Candy", was "Verietally Indistinct" and had little flavor or nose .  When it was revealed to be Syrah, most everyone thought that it didn't taste like what we expected Syrah to taste like. Most agreed it was a pretty passable "party wine".

 

 

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December 2nd Blind Tasting Results

The Wine: Rickshaw Chardonnay, California, 2014

What we tasted: Green Apple, Pear, Citrus, lemongrass, Stone, Starfruit, Slate

What we Guessed: Dry Riesling, White Burgundy, California Chardonnay

What we thought: This wine was a big hit with our panel, even Chardonnay-haters! Most everyone enjoyed it, although no one picked up on any oak.

The wine: Barone Fini Pinot Grigio, valdadige, Italy, 2014

What we tasted: Bug spray, Mineral, "Closet freshener", apple, Pink grapefruit, Cantaloupe Rind, Perfume, Honey

What we Guessed: New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Washington State Sauvignon Blanc

What we thought: It was actually a more popular wine than you might expect with "bug spray" and "closet freshener" as descriptors. Most everyone thought it was Sauvignon Blanc. Very aromatic! I never guess Pinot Grigio when it has so much flavor. I guess I  have Pinot Grigio predjudice...

The Wine: Treviso "Rubicone" Sangiovese, Emilia-Romagnia, Italy, NV

What we Tasted: Oak, Flowers, Honey, Smoke, Tobacco, "NyQuil", Alcohol, latex balloon

What we thought: "I love it", one of our tasters said! Most agreed that it was a solid everyday, table wine, although lacking in varietal characteristics and Terroir. I thought it tasted like a generic red.

What we Guessed: Shiraz/Syrah, Zinfandel, "Cheap merlot", Sangiovese

The Wine: Woop Woop Shiraz, South Eastern Australia, 2014

What we Tasted: "jammy fruit and dirt", smoke, "Toejam", bacon, Tobacco, Sourdough, barnyard, Black Cherry, Beef jerky, Pickles

What we Thought: Not a popular one. Quite a few on our panel did not drink their glass (a really bad sign with this band of Pirates!).  "Aftertaste is not good", "Needs food" and "Don't like it, not drinking it" were the comments I scribbled down.

What we Guessed: South African Shiraz, Zinfandel, Cabernet

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November 4th Blind Tasting Results

The Wine: Le Grand St-Vincent Sauvignon Blanc, Touraine, France 2014

What we Tasted: Pink Grapefruit, Peach, Minerals, Stone Fruit, Flint, "Bamboo-Stones", Pear Apricot, Celery

What we Thought: A crowd pleaser! Our panel thought it would work well as a porch sipper on its own or with a meal.

What we Guessed: Chenin Blanc, Muscadet, Viognier, Pinot Grigio, and Loire valley Sauvignon Blanc

The Wine: Sean Minor Sauvignon Blanc, California, 2014

What we Tasted: Green Apple, Tropical stone-fruit, Citrus, Unripe Mango, Papaya

What we Thought: Our panel didn't get much from the nose, one comapring it to "water" and one saying it "burned" like Vodka. We liked it more once we tasted it. Most everyone agreedthat it was a "pleasant social wine" and "Nice".

What we Guessed: Unoaked Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc

The Wine: Mark West Pinot Noir, California, 2013

What we tasted: earth, Smoke, barnyard floor, Cherries, raspberries, dark chocolate, "firework gunpowder"

What we Thought: Overall a hit with our panel. "Balanced" and "easy drinking", summed it up, with one panelist saying it would "jump out with the right food".

What we Guessed: Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir

The wine: Haarth Malbec, Argentina, 2013

What we Tasted: Plums, "rubber glove", Alcohol, Black cherries, Goji Berry, "blackberry schnaps", coffee, spice, cedar, Tobacco

What we thought: Another hit this week! Our panel enjoyed the big, tannic flavor and dark fruit.

What we Guessed: Malbec, Syrah, Zinfandel, Cabernet

 

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October 7th Blind Tasting Results

The Wine: Riff Pinot Grigio, Veneto, Italy 2014

What we tasted: Citrus, pear, apple, floral, department store perfume, Spice, mineral, sour lemon drop, bell pepper and a "touch of remorse"

What we thought: Overall a pretty popular wine! Very floral and interesting for an $11 bottle of wine.

What we Guessed: Old-World Viognier, Something Northern-Italian, Sauvignon Blanc

The Wine: La Perla Viura, Rioja, Spain, 2014

What we Tasted: Tropical/pineapple, Play-Doh, Chalk, "Circus Peanut Marshmallow Candies", Old apples, and Dishwater

What we Thought: "tastes like a Biltmore Wine" (sorry to our friends at Biltmore), "Great nose but disappointing flavor", "finishes like a mouth full of pennies". Sorry to La Perla, this one wasn't a crowd favorite.

What we Guessed: Cheap Pinot Grigio, Gavi di gavi, Chenin Blanc

The Wine: Grayson Zinfandel, California, 2013

What we Tasted: Smoky, pruny, "old oak", Forest floor, "Funky fruit roll-up", Goji Berry, Chocolate, and Raisins

What we Thought: We were divided on this one. Some liked it, "nice finish", and some didn't "Not pleasant", and "Hangover Wine"

What we guessed: Rioja, Tempranillo, Barolo, Zinfandel, and Malbec

The Wine: Paso a Paso Tempranillo, La Mancha, Spain, 2013

What we Tasted: menthol, Spice, Blackberry, Tobacco, Licorice, Earth and Potting Soil

What we Thought: I didn't like it, but many of our crew did, one suggesting it would be a good "Thanksgiving wine". Not bad for a $10.99 wine!

What we guessed: Corvina, Barbera, merlot, and "Cheap Valpolicella"

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September 2nd Wine Blind Tasting Results

The Wine: Valle Dorado Sauvignon Blanc, Central Valley, Chile, 2014

What we Tasted: Lemongrass, Citrus, Burnt-Match, floral, Bamboo-Pebbles, Chalky, baby-Diapers

What we thought: Finishes like licking a battery. Nondescript flavor. More smell than taste. Not a crowd favorite!

What we guessed: Vinho Verde, Watery Pinot Grigio, Mineral Water

The Wine: 10 Span Chardonnay, Santa Barbara, California, 2013

What we tasted: Fruity, Cork, Woody, American Oak, Lemon Peel, Peach, Peanut Butter, Pear

What we thought: Better Chardonnay than most. Good Quality. Too much oak. most liked this wine!

What we Guessed: Southern California Chardonnay, Oregon/Washington State Chardonnay

The Wine: "Good" merlot, Veneto, Italy, 2012

What we Tasted: Pomegranate, blackberries, a little oak, Some earth, black cherry, dates/raisins, Bowl of berries

What we thought: Not a bad table wine

What we Guessed: Piedmont Barbera, Corvina or low quality Valpolicella, "Limp  Merlot". At least we got that it was Italian!

The Wine: Finca La Linda Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendoza, Argentina, 2012

What we Tasted: Some flora on nose, Goji-berry, natural fruit roll-up, clay, cherry, some oak, Cranberry, Leather, Raisins

What we thought: Great wine! Very balanced.

What we Guessed: Tempranillo, Rioja, Malbec, Zinfandel

 

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Blind Tasting at the Asheville Wine & Food Festival

Well the Asheville Wine & Food festival has come and gone again, and as always it was wonderful to attend! The Blind Tasting League was there with both Andy and Anita showing sold out crowds how blind tasting is done for both wine and beer! I was thrilled to be asked back to demonstrate the basics of deductive blind tasting not once, but twice to two seperate groups of people! Our resident beer expert Anita Riley showed a sold out crowd that blind tasting isn't just for wine, it can be done with Beer as well.

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend and especially to Sommelier Eric Crane who educated and entertained the crowd with me! 

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Blind tasting at the Asheville Wine & Food Festival

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Blind tasting at the Asheville Wine & Food Festival

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Catching our breath!

Hey blind tasters,

We are recovering from a crazy weekend at the Asheville Wine and Food Festival! Our class was supposed to be for the first 40 people, but we made room for a few extras and ended up with a full house of 43 people! Advanced Sommelier Eric Crane came up from Atlanta and shared his knowledge with all of us, I learned quite a bit myself! This is a guy who is studying for his Master Somm exam, the hardest test in the world. Wines were tasted and I got 3 out of 4, a personal best. In short, it was a good day!
We are taking this week to recover from the weekend, but we will be back at our regularly scheduled time and place next wednesday, September the 3rd. Join us for some blind tasting action!
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Blind Tasting is in today's Wall Street Journal!

From http://online.wsj.com/articles/how-to-blind-taste-wine-like-a-sommelier-1408118884


How to Blind Taste Wine Like a Sommelier

ONE OF THE MOST satisfying achievements of any oenophile is an ability to recognize a wine whose identity is concealed. Equal parts talent, training and luck, blind tasting is the elusive grail of the professional wine world. I've had some great blind-tasting successes—and many failures—but my favorite experience took place 15 years ago at the now-closed Montrachet, in New York.

The restaurant's then-wine director, Daniel Johnnes (now wine director of Dinex, the Daniel Boulud restaurant group) conducted a game called What's My Wine? The challenge was quite simple: Mr. Johnnes poured willing diners a glass and asked them to correctly identify the grape, appellation, region, vintage and producer. For each correct answer, Mr. Johnnes deducted 20% from the price of the bottle. Anyone who answered all five correctly got it free.
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Edd Baldry

I answered four out of five questions correctly: Chenin Blanc, Savennières, the Loire Valley and 1995. I didn't name the producer, Nicolas Joly. I can't remember why. Perhaps it was too obvious. "Only about 2% of all the people who played the game got as far as you did," said Mr. Johnnes reassuringly when I recalled the competition during a recent phone call.

But when I recounted my almost-total triumph to a wine-savvy friend, he scoffed that people almost always guess wrong at blind tastings. "They only remember the one time they got it right," he said.

The practice purportedly evolved from a professional need to identify fraudulent wine (bottles didn't come with labels long ago). Today this type of tasting is considered the best way to assay the true quality of a wine. When a drink's identity is unknown, a taster can (theoretically) reach an objective conclusion as to its worth. Then there is the other type of blind tasting—practiced by professionals and amateurs alike—which is more of a parlor game meant to challenge and/or humiliate wine-drinking friends. Both kinds generally involve shrouding the bottles with brown papers bags, but anything all-concealing will do. I've even seen aluminum foil employed.

The reviewers at Wine Spectator certainly go through the exercise for the first reason, as executive editor Thomas Matthews noted in an email. It is important to avoid "the inevitable bias adduced by knowledge of price and producer," he said in an email. The magazine's critics review all new-release wines in independent blind tastings, he added.

Daniel Posner, owner of Grapes the Wine Company in White Plains, N.Y., blind tastes with his staff for fun. It can be "very humbling," he said. He also does so to assess the quality of wines wholesale sales reps present, as his shop is small and he must be selective about what ends up on the shelves.

These evaluations are generally "price blind." That is, Mr. Posner might know the wine's name but not the price. Mr. Posner offered an example of one such tasting. A salesman brought him an expensive ($50) Pinot Noir along with other, less-costly wines. The pricey Pinot was disappointing while the cheapest, the 2012 Ramsay Pinot Noir ($12), was a hit. If he hadn't blind-tasted the Ramsay Pinot, Mr. Posner said, he probably would not have stocked it.

“ One can follow specific steps to improve the odds of a correct guess. ”

Sommeliers must also be proficient in the skill. This is particularly true for those who aspire to be master somms. In fact, a variation on this theme is an important part of the exam conducted by the Court of Master Sommeliers, an accrediting professional organization. Candidates must correctly identify at least four of six grape varieties to pass the test—something fewer than 10% of the would-be masters manage on their first attempt, according to the court's Seattle-based examination director, Shayn Bjornholm.
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Some sommeliers, such as Raj Vaidya, head sommelier at Daniel restaurant in New York, like to eliminate preconceived notions as a means of checking their palate. For example, he said, "You expect certain things in a wine like Chablis—minerality, high acidity." If it's oaky, you might incorrectly think it's flawed, he said, adding that without a label, he is responding only to "the wine in the glass."

Winemakers frequently taste blind as well—not just their own product but others' too. Aaron Pott, an acclaimed vintner and consultant in Napa (Blackbird Vineyards, Pott Wine) said he rarely tastes his own as it always stands out, but he employs the method elsewhere, in part to avoid "cellar palate," i.e., becoming overly fond of his own beverage.

Mr. Pott also uses the technique for fun. He doesn't take blind tasting—or himself—too seriously. He recounted an event attended by 100 or so wine professionals who were offered the opportunity to participate in a challenge. Mr. Pott was the only one who volunteered—and he got every bottle wrong. But a week later someone brought to his house two wines that he blind tasted, and he "nailed them," he said. They were a 2005 JJ Prüm Kabinett Riesling, from Germany, and a 2000 Troplong Mondot, from St.-Èmilion, Bordeaux. Luck does figure in success: Sometimes a taster is on, sometimes he's not.

Although sampling widely is one of the best ways to become a better blind taster, one can follow specific steps to improve the odds of a correct guess. The first step requires a visual examination (something casual drinkers often forget). Certain wines are much lighter than others. For example, a Pinot Noir will almost always be lighter than a Cabernet. Same with a Pinot Grigio versus a Chardonnay.
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F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal

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The second step requires tilting the glass to check the liquid's viscosity. A viscous wine will usually be higher in alcohol, and a higher-alcohol wine usually comes from a warm climate.

Smelling and tasting are the third and fourth, and most important, steps. The aromas will tell you almost everything you need to know, and the flavor should confirm it. Aromas of red cherries and spice? Pinot Noir. Earth and black pepper? Maybe Syrah. (Of course, you need to study and drink a great deal to have these reference points.)

How well does the average wine drinker perform in a blind tasting? I decided to conduct one of my own for three savvy friends. I chose single varietal wines (blends are too difficult) that are widely available and true to place and type. They were about the same price ($20), save for the California Cabernet, which was more than twice the average price. (It's hard to get a great California Cab for $20.)

The whites included the 2013 Gobelsburg Grüner Veltliner, from Austria, the 2013 Domaine Pastou Sancerre, from the Loire Valley, and the 2013 Abbazia di Novacella Pinot Grigio, of Alto Adige. The reds included the 2012 Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Hills Merlot, from Washington state, the 2010 Laurel Glen Cabernet, from Sonoma and the 2011 Yann Chave Le Rouvre Crozes-Hermitage, from the Rhône Valley.

The results were surprising—or not. The most knowledgeable oenophile took the longest to evaluate each sample and had the most articulate descriptions and rationale, but he also got every wine wrong. The least experienced correctly identified two (Grüner Veltliner and Sancerre), and it turned out that he drank those "all the time," while the third taster nailed every vintage—and nothing else. Sometimes the guesses were close (Cabernet Franc instead of Cabernet Sauvignon) and sometimes they were quite far (Pinot vs. Syrah).

What do blind tastings prove? The professional version can definitely deliver an unbiased opinion—and aid in the discovery of some very good deals (such as the inexpensive Pinot Noir that surprised Mr. Posner). And the parlor-game variety that I practiced on my friends?

They can help you remember and recognize wines in the future, potentially adding to your connoisseurship. But that doesn't guarantee you'll recognize those wines if they're served blind again. As my wine-savvy friend can attest, accurately identifying wines in a blind tasting isn't just about knowledge but a bit of luck too.

See wine videos and more from Off Duty at youtube.com/wsj.com.
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The Blind Tasting League is going mobile!

While we normally hold the Blind Tasting League on the first and third wednesday of every month, we are moving the meeting scheduled for August 20th to Saturday August 23rd to coincide with the Asheville Wine and Food Festival. That's right, we are taking our show on the road! The show will happen at 2:00 at the U.S. Cellular Center in downtown Asheville. Our show is included in the price of your admission into the Festival, but is limited to the first 40 people so buy your tickets now! Tickets for the Festival here: http://ashevillewineandfood.com/festival-events.

And while you are there, stop by the Metro Wines table and try what we are pouring!
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