We are often told that enjoying wine involves all the multiple senses; taste, smell, appearance, temperature. But you might not be aware of how critical the senses are to the wine drinking experience. One way to get an idea of the importance of all the senses to our perception of a wine is to take the black glass challenge. The black glass challenge involves tasting a number of different white and red wines, all at the same temperature, poured into black glasses.
It is fascinating to see how much people struggle to identify wines when sight and temperature are taken out of the sensory equation. You might think the most obvious characteristics would be easy to identify regardless, but you may be surprised to find how difficult it is to separate red from white wines when you are not able to see the color of the wine and when they are served at the same temperature. Maybe you believe that the presence of tannins would provide a clue to help you separate reds from whites. But barrel or oak aged white wines can pick up tannins from the wood along with an oaky taste. The difficulty is even more pronounced when you compare a wood aged white with a mature red. In the mature red, the tannins will have softened making it even more difficult to rely on the presence of tannins to separate the wines.
What does this demonstrate? First of all it demonstrates what many of us already intuitively know: Subconsciously we make decisions about wine by the way it looks? Second, it reminds us that all wine share a common origin in the fruit. The grape lies at the foundation of all wines and provides commonality between reds and whiles and within various wines of each. Also, we learn that the wine experience is based on the totality of the senses including those that are provided by the environment and the mood at the time of your tasting.
Why take the black glass challenge? Perhaps the most important reason to take the test is to challenge our wine prejudices and predispositions. To the wine drinker who limits himself or herself exclusively to reds, the black glass challenge may open his or her eyes to a broader wine experience. For the white wine drinker who avoids “heavy reds” it may come as a surprise that certain reds provide a tasting experience indistinguishable from whites. The point in the end is to avoid having your tastings and wine purchases limited by assumptions that are not dispositive of the wine taste and experience.
None of this is to lead you to conclude that you should not seek out a cool, light white wine on a hot summer day or a rich red on a cold winter night. Rather, the goal is to open up the wine tasting experience so that you can really refine what you are looking for in a wine.
At Locals, with 62 wines to taste every day and free pours, we are glad to conduct black glass tastings with you! With your responses to black glass tastings we can better understand your wine preferences and customize your tasting. We can also introduce you to wines that fit your taste profile but that you might not have sought out previously. And, the black glass challenge is fun! Come visit us at Locals and take the black glass challenge. You will be surprised by the results and maybe you will take home and enjoy a wine you otherwise would have passed by.
We look forward to seeing you!