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Wine Tasting Kit - It's as easy as ABC

In this fun and engaging wine tasting, the focus will be on identifying what white varietal each of four wines is made from.  Guests will know that each wine will be an Anything But Chardonnay (ABC) variety and have six varietals to choose from.  With four wines being poured, it will not be a simple process of elimination.  There will be brief descriptions of the varietals that guests will choose from at the bottom of the tasting guide.


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, 1-4.

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 identify the grape varietal that the wine is made from.

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 four wines have been tasted you can either require guests to write down their guesses, 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 learn about the wines made from Anything But Chardonnay.

Wines to Purchase

Purchasing wines for this tasting should not be very difficult with the help of a good local wine shop. Share the theme for your wine tasting and ask for suggestions (be sure to mention These white wines range in price but you can expect to spend $50-$100 on four bottles.

The key to an ABC wine tasting is selecting wines that are significantly different in style. If possible it is always a good idea to do a little homework.  If you can, purchase and taste the wines in advance and convince yourself that the style differences are pronounced.

Riesling - One of the three noble varietals, this white wine is unique as the German sloping river banks from where it originates.  While many identify Riesling as a sweet wine, many of the finest examples are dry with biting acidity.  The grape has become popular in the Northwest US in Washington as well as in neighboring Canada, but for this tasting we recommend sticking to the originator and finding a good German example.

·         Leitz 2009 Rudesheimer Berg Kaisersteinfels Riesling - $31

·         Dr. Pauly 2009 Bergweiler Wehlener Sonnenuhr Spatlese Riesling - $20

·         Doctor Loosen 2009 “Dr. L” Riesling - $12

Sauvignon Blanc - Running second in terms of worldwide plantings to Chardonnay, this white varietal has spread to vineyards across the globe. The grape's natural acidity and range of aromas make it popular amongst winemakers, who can let the grape express itself no matter the region. While Bordeaux is where Sauvignon Blanc originates and some argue the grape's highest expression comes in the Loire Valley, we're going to New Zealand for the ABC tasting due to its unique characteristics on the islands.

·         Cloudy Bay 2010 Sauvignon Blanc- $25

·         Greywacke 2010 Sauvignon Blanc- $20

·         Cupcake 2011 Sauvignon Blanc- $11


Chenin Blanc - Less recognized than the top three white varietals, Chenin Blanc nevertheless makes some of the world's best white wines.  Yet it remains unrecognized because the only countries to put its name on wine labels are South Africa and California, the latter of which does not produce large amounts of quality Chenin Blanc.  The region where it makes exceptional wine, the Loire Valley, chooses the age-old tradition of naming the wine after the region, not the grape. So we'll head to the AOC of Vouvray for our ABC tasting.

·         Huet 2009 Clos du Borg Vouvray - $30

·         Francois Pinon 2009 Vouvray - $20

·         Benoit Goutier 2008 Vouvray - $14

Pinot Gris - Another varietal that does not receive the recognition it should deserve, Pinot Gris nonetheless has proven its worth in a number of wine regions, in a number of styles.  In France's Alsace region the wines from Pinot Gris tend to be rich and full with distinctive minerality.  To the south, Italy not only calls it a different name (Pinot Grigio) but the style also tends to be light and crisp.  For this tasting we'll go to another region that splits the difference: Oregon's Willamette Valley.

·         Sokol Blosser 2009 Pinot Gris- $22

·         Benton Lane 2010 Pinot Gris- $18

·         A to Z 2010 Pinot Gris- $12

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