I’m sure that many of you have been out and about our fantastic Yass Valley region wineries to take in the tasting experiences on offer. Everyone is familiar with the usual wine tasting format at the cellar door. The winemaker or cellar door staff will guide your through a journey of their currently available wines, allowing you to develop your own ideas on what you like, and why. But the tasting experiences don’t stop at the cellar door. It’s a bit of “edutainment” to conduct your own tastings with friends at home. Here are some tips on how.
A “vertical tasting” is where you have multiple vintages of the same wine on the tasting table – the vintages vertically align. For example, you might have a 2015, 2016 and 2017 vintage of the same wine, let’s say a classic Yass Valley region cool climate Shiraz. This format allows you and your buddies to discover the effect of specific vintage conditions and age on the wine over the range of years.
A “horizontal tasting” is a format where you have the same vintage, generally the same variety but from different producers. For example, you might have a 2019 Riesling from several different producers. The producers can be within the same region, or from across multiple regions. Such a tasting allows you to develop an appreciation of the different expressions of the specific grape variety produced by different winemakers, or the regional and climatic influences on the wine.
Another fun way to taste wines is to conduct a “blind tasting”. This is where you have several reds or whites and cover them in a brown bottle bag, preventing eagle eyes from spying the labels. You then ask a series of multiple-choice questions about the wines. For example, Question 1 – These wines are of the same variety, what is the variety? The choices could be Shiraz, Cabernet or Merlot. Question 2 – These wines are of the same vintage. What is the vintage of the wines? The choices here could be 2012, 2015 or 2018 for example. You can have any number of questions and can be competitive or not, depending on the mates you have around. This format is fun, while developing your wine appreciation skills.
I’ve also been involved in tastings that combine the blind format with either the horizontal or vertical setups. Wines are served blind, you do know the labels being tasted, but you don’t know which is which. This puts your wine knowledge under the pump and your palate to the pressure test.
So have a crack and put a tasting to the test. You’ll have fun and just might learn a thing or two.