Friday, July 28, 2006. I’m on my way up Anderson Valley for the 24th annual California Wine Tasting Championships. My wife has kindly offered to drive so I can blog for as long as my laptop battery holds out. Last year was my first year of participation, and was honored to have lost in the final round to two winemakers and a distributor.
The format is challenging – an unknown wine is poured into your glass and you have four minutes to determine the following:
• The grape variety (all wines are varietal wines, with at least 75% of the dominant variety) 6points
• Extra Credit (only granted IF the correct varietal is identified)
o It’s region (3 points)
o It’s vintage (1 point)
o It’s producer (2 points)
Guess the wrong grape varietal, and you lose all points you may have earned for that wine! Contestants taste 8 wines per round.
This year I’ve talked to some of my industry friends into competing, one of whom rented a van to transport their entire staff to the competition! This adds an extra element of pressure, of course. And while I’m glad my friends are participating, it does add an element of stress to the competition.
I don’t know about you, but my palate goes through periods of being really stupid. It just flat won’t work. Such periods don’t last long – a couple hours at the most. When blind tasting, this is akin to instant defeat.
Unbeknownst to my wife, I’d stopped by Safeway and dropped a whopping $45 on seven practice wines. She was kind enough to wrap them and pour them for me to practice with in preparation of tomorrow’s event. I have to say, I did horribly. And worse yet, I thought I’d done very well until the wine’s identities were revealed. I went to bed in a restless mood, clearly dreading tomorrow.
Next - Saturday's competition...