Two years ago, I participated in a disappointing blind tasting. The host wanted to prove points on the theme of terroir. For me, this competitive environment overshadowed the true essence of enjoying wine or Champagne.
The problem with blind tasting
Traditional blind tasting focuses on analytics rather than enjoyment. This method involves dissecting wines instead of enjoying them, much like treating a poem as a riddle.
The idea of instinctive tasting
I later discovered the concept of holistic tasting, which emphasises emotional response over analytical dissection. This approach allows for a more open discussion of preferences without the need for justification.
Case study: A tasting in Augsburg, Germany.
I recently led a champagne tasting in Augsburg with participants who were excellent tasters but not champagne experts. We started with two introductory Blanc de Blancs before introducing Agrapart's Venus 2017. I intentionally avoided influencing the participants with prior knowledge about Champagne.
Venus clearly stood out in quality and substance compared to the previous tastings. Most participants could instinctively recognise the high quality of Venus even though they knew nothing about Agrapart. Interestingly, two participants preferred the original champagnes, which they found more purist.
Preconceptions, whether related to price or reputation, can potentially change the perception of a wine or champagne. A holistic approach can remove such biases and allow for a purer appreciation of the drink.