Monday, September 7, 2009

A leap of faith – the Laboratory Sample

Blind tasting is a skill. You train you palate to the point where minute degrees of taste will clue you in to the difference between a Italian Pinot Grigio and an Oregonian Pinot Gris. For those attempting to earn the rank of Master Sommelier (one of the highest certifications in the wine industry), in a blind tasting you are given a black wine glass (so you do not know what could be inside) and you must pinpoint the wine by nothing but taste.

For those who do not think that is hard, try it. I would bet you one dollar that you could possibly name the grape (maybe). If you could then name country, region, vineyard, producer, and vintage… then you are probably already a Master Sommelier or Master of Wine.

I was handed a bottle that said nothing but, “Laboratory Sample.” Most smart people do not put something called “Laboratory Sample” in their mouths, but I never claimed to be smart. So I popped open the cork, a soft plastic cork which felt more like a piece of chewed up gum than something that should keep a bottle closed. The cork almost scared me off, but the bottle was open, and I was told it was wine, so… into the mouth it went.

The wine was the color of straw and had very tropical fruit smells. Things like kiwi and banana. In my mouth it tasted round (medium acidity) and fleshy, like a ripe peach mixed with apricot and banana. Not a bad smoothie, now that I think about it. It was also a bit creamy.

My best guess – a new world, unoaked (or slightly oaked), Chardonnay that has gone through malolactic fermentation. That was really geeky, so for those that did not follow that, I’m sorry.

The real answer – I have no idea.
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