A former high school classmate and cherished old friend when reconnecting with Roger through Facebook quoted the old saying: "When God closes a door, he opens a window." The years have seen a number of life changes for us that make that adage ring true. After being blessed with good fortune, a wonderful son and great experiences, we decided to look out that window and prepare for more of what this wonderful life has to offer. We hope through our blog to share our journey from this point forward with family, with friends and with many others. Hopefully we'll make some new friends along the way. We hope you find our tales of some interest, even amusement and perhaps an inspiration for you to treat each and every day as an opportunity and an adventure to share with those who are an important part of your life.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Blind Wine Tasting Party!

Six wines were tasted and a seventh was enjoyed by The Wine Guy's guests 
during the blind tasting of affordable wines available in Cuenca Ecuador.

The Wine Guy finally got to properly inaugurate his new wine bar.  The fetching Mrs. Wine Guy and I hosted a wine tasting party for some friends who had expressed an interest in wine.  Each couple and/or single guest was asked to select a bottle to bring that fit the theme for the tasting.  Our theme was "Affordable and Available Wine".  The wine could be either red or white but no dessert or sparkling wines were permitted.  The theme criteria asked that the wine be available at retail here in Cuenca, Ecuador and be priced under $15.  That's actually no mean feat because of the very high import tariffs on alcohol here in is one the things that is generally much more affordable in the USA than it is here!

We ended up with six bottles of wine (two white, four red) for the tasting and each had its label covered to conceal its identity.  The wines were marked with letters "A" through "F".   Scoring sheets were handed out to the tasters to use in scoring the wines.  Each wine got 50 basis points (just for being a wine!)  The host would later enter label and seal points (worth a maximum of 5 points each) and the guests were to give from 0 to 10 points each in four categories:  visual examination of the wine,  aroma of the wine, initial wine taste and finishing taste.   That made for a maximum possible 100 points for each wine. Each scoring sheet had suggestions on the positives and negatives to look for in each category.  A general discussion of scoring occurred before the tasting began, but each guest was left to his own intuition as to how to assign or deduct points.  Here were the six wines subject to scoring in the tasting in order of their presentation to the guests (although they were not identifiable at the time of tasting):

A.  Trapiche Sauvignon Blanc
B.  Santa Julia Fuzion Blanco (Chenin Blanc/Chardonnay blend)
C.  Cremashi Furlotti Barrel Select Carmenere  (this wine slightly exceeded the retail price requirement)
D.  Trapiche Astica Malbec
E.  Carta Vieja Reserva Limited Cabernet Sauvignon
F.  Vina Maria Cabernet Sauvignon

Each tasting consisted of a single one ounce pour and a spit container was provided.  After the scoring was complete, the tasters handed their score sheets to the host for tabulation.  Each scorer was provided later with a print out of their scores and a listing of the wines ranked in order of the group's overall average scores. This was all handled by having excel spreadsheets prepared onto which the host could enter the scores.  Tabulation and ranking then proceed automatically.   While the host was entering the scores, guests enjoyed snacks and discussed their scoring observations.  They also had the opportunity to revisit the uncovered wines if they chose to do so.  They were additionally treated to a seventh wine that fitted the criteria for the tasting theme.  This wine was provided by the host and came from Uruguay.  (The Wine Guy reviewed this wine, Pisano C/S Platino Tannat/Merlot, in an earlier September 12, 2012 posting on Roger's Grapevine).

When the scores were averaged, there was a tie for first and second place in the rankings between a white and a red.  In fact, only 5 points separated the top ranked from the lowest ranked wine.  (Rankings ranged from 72 to 77 points in overall average scores).  Here are the rankings based on average scores:

1. (tie)Santa Julia Fuzion Blanco                                                 77 pts
1. (tie)Carta Vieja Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon                         77 pts
3. Cremashi Furlotti Carmenere                                                  76 pts
4. Vina Maria Cabernet Sauvignon                                             74 pts
5. Trapiche Sauvignon Blanc                                                      73 pts
6. Trapiche Astica Malbec                                                          72 pts

I later did an alternative ranking based on assigning 5 points to each taster's number one rated wine, 4 points to the second ranked wine and so on down to 0 points for the bottom ranked wine and then tabulating the total points from all tasters.  This method yielded a slightly different overall ranking:

1. Cremashi Furlotti Carmenere
2. Santa Julia Fuzion Blanco
3. Carta Vieja Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon
4. Trapiche Sauvignon Blanc
5. Vina Maria Cabernet Sauvignon
6. Trapiche Astica Malbec

An interesting note from this method was the Carta Vieja Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon, which received number one rankings from four different tasters. That was the most 1st place ranking of any of the wines.  It also received a last place ranking from four different tasters and that was the most last place finishes of any of the wines. Those in attendance either really liked or didn't like this wine!

The guests may not have noticed
but the tasted was presided over by
Rusty, the host's official Wine Bar Bear!

It was an interesting experience to examine the tasting sheets of couples in attendance.  One couple was in almost total agreement all the way through, only differing on the order of the last two place wines.  It was also noteworthy that the wine they brought finished in the bottom two for both of them.  Another couple who professed a strong prejudice for red wines both scored a white in their top two rankings.  Yet another couple who stated a preference for whites both scored a red (although a different one for each of them) as their number one wine choice.   Results like this are not really all that uncommon in blind wine tastings and it can be a great way to learn and discover that your wine tastes can sometimes take you to new and unexpected places.

All in all it was an enjoyable evening and perhaps some of these wines will make it to your table for a trial.   Our Cuencano friends may especially appreciate having reference to some affordable wines to try.   Enjoy!

(Note:  because the subject content covers both wine and our adventures in Ecuador,  this blog is being entered on two different blog sites:  
1. Roger's Grapevine, 
2. Juntos en el Camino de la Vida,