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Wine Tasting Kit - The Prince and the Pauper

In this fun and “anyone can play” wine tasting the focus is on attempting to identify the more expensive wine in each of three paired tastings.  The education is around introducing the concept of a “value” wine, which is a wine that exemplifies the attributes of a grape variety at an affordable price.  A second concept to be reinforced is that a good wine is a wine you enjoy, regardless of taste, aromas, acidity, tannins or price – and not everyone's tastes are the same.

The goal of the tasting is to see which tasters can correctly match the grape variety description to the wine.  With any luck, if you have experts in your group they will be humbled by how good an affordable wine can taste. 

Preparation


1. Make as many copies of the Tasting Guide as you have guests.  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 sheet as you have guests and place at the end of the Tasting Guide.
3. Have a pen or pencil for each guest.
4. Wrap each bottle using a dark tissue paper (you can read the label through light paper).  A different color paper for each pair will help keep the confusion to a minimum.  Using a magic marker of peel off stickers from your local party or office supply store number each bottle in the pair with a 1 or 2. 

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 select the wine in each pair that the guest believes is the more expensive wine.  It may or may not be the wine they prefer, only that it is there guess at the premium, more expensive wine.
4. If you want to award a prize to the person who has the most correct guesses, you can announce the prize before the tasting begins.  Make sure you have a plan of attack for ties!
5. Pour each guest two ounces of the first wine and allow guests time to taste and record notes if they wish.  Repeat for the second wine in the pair.  If there is sufficient wine a second pour may be allowed at the discretion of the host.
6. Scoring can be done after each pair is tasted, or you can ask your guests to record their vote and score after all three pairs have been tasted.  Scoring after each pair is usually more engaging, and builds excitement as guests compete for the best overall score.
7. As always, remind tasters that the real goal is to have fun, and to hopefully identify a new value wine or two to each person's repertoire of favorite wines.


Wines to Purchase

Purchasing wines for this tasting is pretty straight forward although it can be a bit pricey as well (you can expect to spend $175 - $250 for the wine).  Identifying a leading producer with consistently high ratings (and price) is the easier of the two tasks.  The premium wine producers below were selected for their ratings and reviews for the particular grape variety, and an upper limit of $100 per bottle (although most are considerably less). 

The key to a successful Prince and the Pauper wine tasting however, is in identifying the value wine.  In every vintage there are frequently a number of standouts, wines that are excellent expressions of their variety, and produced in large volume, resulting in affordable prices.  Value wines are frequently “one hit wonders”, that is extremely good one year, then back to a more average status the following vintage.  As always, ask your wine shop manager for recommendations.  Tell him the theme for your tasting, and see what he suggests!

Chardonnay Value (Less than $15)

• Toasted Head (Yolo County, CA) $11
• Porta (Bio Bio Valley, Chile) $12
• Wente Morning Fog (CA) $11

Chardonnay Premium ($30 - $60)

• White Burgundy - Puligny Montrachet (France) There are dozens if not hundreds of premium white Burgundies from this region.  Xavier Monnot Puligny-Montrachet form the Cote de Beaune is one, however best to ask your wine shop manager for a recommendation.  A good wine should be available for under $60.
• Ramey Russian River Valley (CA) $39
• Kistler Sonoma Valley (CA) $69

Merlot Value (Less than $20)

• Columbia Crest Grand Estates (Columbia Valley, WA) $10
• Raymond Vineyards and Cellar R Collection (California) $10
• Montes Classic Series (Colchagua Valley, Chile) $10
• Oyster Bay (Hawkes Bay, New Zealand) $13

Merlot Premium ($30 - $80)

• Chateau Petrus – OK, included this for fun.  You can certainly buy this wine if you'd like but at prices north of $1,500 per bottle – well enough said.
• Duckhorn (Napa Valley, CA) $52
• Leonetti Cellar (Walla Walla Valley, WA) $81

Cabernet Sauvignon Value (Less than $20)

• Concha y Toro Casillero del Diablo (Puente Alto, Chile) $9
• Robert Mondavi Private Selection (CA) $10

Cabernet Sauvignon Premium ($50 - $100)

• Chateau Montelena (Napa Valley, CA) $49
• Trefethen 2005 Estate (Oak Knoll, CA) $50
• Joseph Phelps Vineyard 2005 (Napa Valley, CA) $52

 




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