Blind tasting is a part of every sommelier competition, and every serious qualification. But it needn’t be a source of terror. Star sommelier Jan Konetzki gives us his seven top tips for acing it blind.
1. Don’t necessarily try to find the precise wine from the start. It’s better to remove what it isn’t, bit by bit, and see what’s left than rush straight in with a guess.
2. Books are important. If you are going to be able to specify regions, you need to know your stuff. So study as well as taste.
3. Avoid the word ‘medium’ in your analysis where possible. Go to the margins of your tasting descriptions. And the word ‘nice’ is not a tasting description – it’s an opinion.
4. Follow your tasting grid/process, whatever it is. Giving yourself a structure that you follow time after time helps.
5. Explain your conclusion. Even if your final choice of wine is wrong, it is good to make examiners aware of where you are coming from.
6. Call the entire wine. Not just ‘Chilean Cabernet’ but ‘Chilean Cabernet from Maipo in the cooler [XXXX] vintage’.
7. In the end, go either with your head or your gut instinct. One probably works better for you than the other. You just need to work out which it is and stick with it.