Michael Perlis: A Blind Tasting

My friends Jim Blazer and Chris Verbeck, owners of the Wealth Planning Group [http://wealthplanninggroup.net], recently hosted a blind wine tasting event at the Robinson Ranch Golf Club for their clients.

A great selection of appetizers was also offered, and entertainment was provided by Dan the Magic Man. And the view from the patio was pretty incredible.

I have to say that typically I don’t like blind tastings. This is probably because everyone has high expectations of what I am going to do or say, and that is way too much pressure. Or maybe, it’s just my own expectations and no one else really cares all that much.
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Wines were in brown paper bags, labeled alphabetically, and presented in the following order:
H, G, A, B, C, D, E, F. We were supposed to try to identify the varietal, and then assign points based on the following criteria:
Aroma (0 – 6 points)
Flavor (0 – 6 points)
Appearance (0 – 4 points)
Overall Impression (0 – 4 points)
Drinkability (0 – 4 points)
Total possible points = 24

Once unveiled, we were shown that the bottles were —

Chardonnay –
H – Landmark
G – Charles Shaw

Pinot Noir –
A – Flowers
B – Blue Fin

Merlot –
C – Plumpjack
D – Charles Shaw

Cabernet Sauvignon
E – Charles Shaw
F – Buehler

Charles Shaw, as I am sure you know, sells for $1.99 at Trader Joe’s, often called Two-Buck Chuck. The Blue Fin Pinot Noir sells for slightly more.
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The Landmark, Flowers, Plumpjack, and Buehler were all reasonably high-priced wines of their respective varietals.

I am pleased [and somewhat proud] to report that I actually correctly identified the varietals of the Landmark, Flowers, Plumpjack, and Buehler bottlings.

I had a lot more trouble with the Charles Shaws and Blue Fin. Not only couldn’t I find any varietal characteristics, but in the case of the Merlot and Cabernet, I found the Two-Buck Chucks to be fairly undrinkable.  The other two, while drinkable, were unidentifiable, at least to me.

Of course, one has to take into account that in making a $2 or $3 bottle of wine, only 75% of the grapes have to be what is on the label, and they wouldn’t typically be from higher-end vineyards. And the rest of the grapes can be pretty much anything.

Not enough people turned in their score sheets for me to get an accurate assessment of what the other attendees thought of the wines, but of those who did, there appeared to be a pretty even split of what people thought of the lower-end wines. Some seemed to like them well enough, some seemed to dislike them as I did, and some even preferred them. Oh well, more good stuff for me!

Michael Perlis provides outsourced controller services to businesses that do not need a full-time controller. He balances this with his interest in wine: reading and writing about it and, of course, drinking it. He is still trying to figure out how to combine these two pursuits. Feel free to contact him about either at mcpfinancial@aol.com or michaelthezinfan@aol.com.