• A few years ago I went to a restaurant called Dans le Noir?. This was a unique experience for so many reasons. The restaurant was in Paris on a little alley called Quincampoix not 50 yards from the Musée National d’Art Moderne.

    The premise was that the entire eating experience would be done without the sense of sight. The dining area was behind a double curtain that did not allow any light to pass into the room.

    A blind server had you put a hand on her shoulder to lead you to your seat, told you how to fill your water cup (using your finger to gauge the fullness of the cup), and then instructed you to call her name if you became claustrophobic or frightened.

    I had the option of knowing what I was eating and drinking, or I could go at it blind. I chose the later.

    It was nearly overwhelming especially if you add the fact that everyone was speaking French around me. I actually don’t remember how well I did on recognizing the wine, but I didn’t guess any of the food correctly.

    It was by far the single most challenging wine tasting experience I’ve had to date.

    When a wine taster or sommelier says they blind tasted wine. They aren’t usually wearing a blindfold. They are merely blind to the wine label so to speak. They put the wine in a glass without knowing where the wine came from, what grape it is made from and who made it.

    This is done for different reasons. One purpose might be to challenge their senses and knowledge in an effort to hone their skills. Repeat studying without preconceived notions helps your mind come up with decisions on its own rather then going in with the answer before hand.

    Another reason is to let the wine speak for itself. When a tasting panel is trying to score a wine they may taste blind so they won’t be partial to one wine or another based on previous scores or favoritism.

    Sometimes the reason is they were given multiple glasses of wine to identify because a server forgot which was which.

    When trying to identify a wine one uses sight, touch, smell and taste.

    What color it is is a helpful indicator if the wine is Pinot Noir or Nebbiolo, because they are almost always much lighter. If the wine smells like ortega chilis then it could very well be a Marlborough, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

    Try this with friends some time:

    Get a few bottles of different grape varietals. Wrap a brown bag around each one. Shuffle them around without looking and then label each bag A, B, C etc. If you want to taste them side by side, also label the glasses you pour them in with the same letter. You can tell people the varietal choices to make it easier, and thereby making it a process of elimination.

    As usual just have fun with it and enjoy the wine.