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How to hold your own wine tasting

Berry Brothers & Rudd's new book shares some top tips so you can host your own tasting at home, plus suggestions for the styles of wines to try.

It isn’t hard to hold your own wine tasting; get a group of friends together, share the cost and learn from each other. You can have a lot of fun exchanging your impressions – preferably without having seen the label on the bottle.

Ideally, you’ll need a glass for each wine you’re tasting. Mark them in some way to prevent them from becoming mixed as you compare one wine with another. The simplest is to draw up a sheet of paper with numbered circles so you can put the glasses back in the right order; or use tags, sticky dots or elastic bands to identify them.

Have some covers to disguise the bottles, or three (ideally identical) decanters or jugs for the recognition game at the end of each tasting.

For your wine tasting, try using the Berry Bros & Rudd guide on how to understand wine, and write your own tasting notes with Andrew Jefford’s six-point guide.

Wines to choose:

At the Berry Bros & Rudd Wine School, we taste wines like those listed below. For your home wine tasting, adapt your list to what’s available to you.

Session one

To discover and think about ripeness, acidity, oak/no oak:
Wine 1: Chablis
Wine 2: New World Chardonnay
To discover and think about alcohol, how you perceive it:
Wine 3: German Riesling
Wine 4: Amarone
To discover and think about tannin:
Wine 5: Beaujolais
Wine 6: Barolo
To discover and think about age and maturity:
Wine 7: Young Spanish red wine
Wine 8: Old Rioja

For sessions two to six, pour the wines into the numbered glasses. You can do this ‘blind’, from covered bottles, without saying which is which – or you can be open about the identities of the wines.

Session two

Sauvignon Blanc
Wine 1: Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
Wine 2: Pouilly-Fumé, Loire, France

Wine 3: Pouilly-Fuissé, Burgundy, France
Wine 4: Chardonnay, California

Wine 5: Graves Blanc, Bordeaux, France
Wine 6: Sauternes, Bordeaux, France

Now try mixing them up and guessing which is which (you may need to pour more samples – ask someone else to do this for you to get the best chance of not cheating….)

Session three

Cabernet Franc
Wine 1: Bourgueil, Loire, France
Wine 2: Chinon, Loire, France

Wine 3: Merlot, South of France
Wine 4: Merlot, Chile

Cabernet Sauvignon
Wine 5: Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia
Wine 6: Cabernet Sauvignon, Maipo, Chile
Wine 7: Bordeaux, France

Session four

Wine 1: Riesling, Germany/Austria
Wine 2: Riesling, Eden Valley, Australia

Wine 3: Gewurztraminer, Chile
Wine 4: Gewurztraminer, Alsace, France

Chenin Blanc
Wine 5: Chenin Blanc, South Africa
Wine 6: Vouvray, Loire, France

Session five

Wine 1: Beaujolais, France
Wine 2: Morgon, France

Pinot Noir
Wine 3: Red Burgundy, France
Wine 4: Pinot Noir, New Zealand

Wine 5: Crozes-Hermitage, Northern Rhône, France
Wine 6: Shiraz, South Australia

Session six

Wine 1: Tavel Rosé, Southern Rhône, France
Wine 2: Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Southern Rhône, France Tempranillo
Wine 3: Joven Rioja
Wine 4: Gran Reserva Rioja Sangiovese
Wine 5: Chianti Classico, Tuscany, Italy
Wine 6: Brunello di Montalcino, Italy Nebbiolo
Wine 7: Barolo, Piedmont, Italy
Wine 8: Barbaresco, Piedmont, Italy

With all the sessions, try mixing them up and see if you can guess which is which…

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