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Wine Tasting Kit - Name that Red!

In this third and most difficult level of red grape variety identification, five single variety grape wines are tasted.  The wines are primarily indigenous varieties and are identified by their dominant country.  Each wine has a brief description including the grape name, the most common characteristics of the wine,(e.g. color, tannin, acidity, flavors) and a few fun facts about the grape variety.

The goal of the tasting is to see which tasters can correctly match the grape variety description to the wine.


1. Wine tasting should be done in a well lit room, free of cooking or other aromas.  Make sure each guest has a location to taste the wine, and write down any tasting notes they might wish.

2. Make as many copies of the Tasting Notes (pdf) sheet as you have guests and place at the end of the Tasting Guide.

3. Have a pair of sharp scissors ready and available.

4. Have a pen or pencil for each guest.

5. Wrap each bottle using a dark tissue paper (you can read the label through the paper is you use light paper).  Using a magic marker or peel off sticker from your local party or office supply store number each bottle, 1-5. 

Tasting Process

1. Introduce the theme and goal of the wine tasting by using the introductory section of the attached PDF file. 

2. Carefully open each wine.  If you are the host and playing along as well, you will need to be careful to not examine the foil or the cork as it may give an indication of the wine.

3. Emphasize that the goal is to match the wine with the general characteristics, and that this may be challenging as any particular wine might be well off the beaten path of “general”.

4. Pour each guest a two ounce pour of wine and allow them time to taste and record notes if they wish.

5. After all five wines have been tasted you can either require guests to vote, or optionally you may allow them to re-taste one or as many as they would like of the wines a second time.

6. If you want to award a prize to the person who has the most correct guesses, you can announce the prize.  Make sure you have a plan of attack for ties!

7. As always, remind tasters that the real goal is to have fun, and to hopefully identify a new grape variety or two to each persons' repertoire of favorite wines.

Wines to Purchase

Purchasing wines for this tasting can be a bit challenging if you don't have access to a well-stocked or boutique wine shop.  The five wines are Bonarda, Nero d'Avola, Brunello di Montalcino, Touriga Nacional, and Petit Verdot.  Listed below are some suggested producers that you may be able to locate.  It is advisable (and a lot of fun) to taste the wines yourself prior to the party.  Now this should disqualify you from participating, but I won't tell anyone.  The reason to do this is  that the tasting is based on the “general” characteristics of the wine, and any particular producer / vintage could stray considerable from the general expression of the wine.


• Cruz Alta 100% Bonarda Reserve, Mendoza, Argentina, 2010 (Imported by Clock Tower Imports, Harrison, NY) $12
• Trapiche Broquel Bonarda, Mendoza, Argentina, 2010 $16

Nero d'Avola

• Cantine Colosi Nero d'Avola Sicilia 2008 (Imported by Vias Imports LTD, New York, NY)
• Tasca d'Almerita Lamuri Nero d'Avola IGT Sicilia 2009 Imported by Winebow

Brunello Di Montalcino

Here there are dozens, probably more like a hundred choices for this popular Sangiovese.

• L'Oca Ciuca DOCG 2006 (Imported by Michelangelo Imports, Manhasset, NY) One of my personal favorites the “Drunken Goose” Sangiovese is excellent! $29
• Fattoria Casisano-Colombaio
• Ruffino
• Castello Banfi
• Fuligni
• Podere Brizio

Touriga Nacional

• Herdade Das Servas 2004 (Imported by Iberia Wines & Spirits) $12
• Dao Sul 2007 Casa de Santar Touriga Nacional

Petit Verdot

• Nudo
• Barnard Griffin 2007 Petit Verdot (Columbia Valley (WA) 

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