Monday, 15 September 2008

The Virtues of Blind Tasting

Lew Bryson points out that blind tasting is one of the most educational connoisseurship exercises you can possibly undertake. It forces you to set aside preconceptions and expectations, go in with an open mind, and put names to flavors and scents yourself.

I participated in the Blind Wine Tasting Society at Cambridge and learned more about wine than any number of guided tastings or vineyard tours could possibly have imparted. At our weekly tastings, we tasted six whites and then six reds, writing taste notes and making guesses for the grape, country, region and vintage of each. I was never particularly good, but the experience was invaluable!

I've been meaning to do something similar for beer... When I get a chance, I'm planning to get hop pellets of various different varieties from a homebrew shop, have someone else number them, and then add each to a fairly cheap and neutral lager (High Life?). I'll then taste each, write notes, and try to match the variety to the number. A good exercise to "know your hops?" Have any readers done something similar? A hop tea might be simpler, but identification out of context might not be as useful.

No comments: