Setting Up Your Tasting
Gather your 6 bottles of wine for the tasting course (see more on that below!). Additionally, here’s what else you’ll want to have at the table.
- Host your tasting in a neutrally lit room.
- 2 wine glasses and 1 glass of water per taster.
- Pens and paper for note taking. (Try the Wine Folly Tasting Journal!)
- White paper or tasting mats to observe the color of wine.
- The tasting course booklet.
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The Wine Selection
We teamed up with wine.com to offer the 6 wines shipped to your door! (US customers only) That being said, if you can’t get these wines, here’s the list of what you’ll need to source.
Tasting Course Wines
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
Seek out a young (as in, recent vintage) Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region in New Zealand. The wine should not be oak-aged and do your best to seek out one from a producer who grows their own grapes. On fun tip: New Zealand has some of the highest proportion of organic vineyards! This is a great place to find wines made with organically grown grapes. In the US, you should expect to spend between $15–$20.
Seek out a California Chardonnay that had some amount of oak-aging. This is important! We’ll be using this wine to greater understand how oak affects flavor. We like to find California Chardonnay from the more coastal (cooler) regions of North and Central Coast including Sonoma, Mendocino, Santa Barbara, Alexander Valley, or Edna Valley. In the US, this cost about $25 for great quality.
French Rhône / GSM Blend
A “GSM” is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. These are the 3 grapes that are prevalent in the Southern French regions of Côtes-du-Rhône and Languedoc-Roussillon (such as the Corbieres appellation). Seek out a wine that features Grenache prevalently in the blend. In the US, you should expect to spend between $14–19 a bottle.
Hone your selection of Italian Sangiovese in to perhaps these 2 regional wines: a Rosso di Montalcino or a Chianti Classico Riserva (or Gran Selezione if you’re feeling fancy!). The vintage should be at least 4 years old. Seek out a wine that is Sangiovese-dominant and the only oak used is mostly neutral oak (this imparts less oak flavors of vanilla!). We found wines ranged from $20–$30 a bottle in the US.
Look for a Reserva level Rioja or a Ribera del Duero with some age. Ideally, more than 5 years as Tempranillo really tastes fantastic with a little bottle age! Aging softens the intensity of Tempranillo and reveals more baked fruit flavors, we’re looking for this so we can explore how the flavors in Tempranillo taste. We found several options ranging between $25–$30 a bottle.
New World “Bordeaux” Style Blend
A “Bordeaux” blend is a classic French-inspired blend that typically includes Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Places to look include Colchagua Valley and Maipo Valley, Chile, North Coast, California, and Washington State. Try to seek a wine that features oak aging in new oak barrels with subtleties of “mint,” “violet,” and/or “green peppercorn.” We found excellent choices for this wine ranged between $35–$45 a bottle!