Mass Wine Tasting?

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Mass Wine Tasting?

Postby Sam Platt » Mon Jul 24, 2006 1:09 pm

Primarily because I know how to hold a wine stem, and can pronounce "Pinot" I was asked to participate on a wine judging panel at a local fundraiser this past weekend. There were eight of us on the panel with varying degrees of experience, from complete novice to relatively well tasted. The wines were a mix stuff from Indiana, and largely California, that were being auctioned at the event. They ranged in retail price from $8 up to about $45. It was all in good fun, but I tried to be serious and professional in my tasting.

We were given a scoring sheet with numerical scoring boxes for color, clarity, aroma, initial taste, and finish/length. It was set-up so that no wine could score less than fifty and the maximum score was 100. The wines were served blind in six flights of five. We had crackers, water and spit buckets to aid in the preceedings. I was doing very well through the first three flights, but then, despite my best efforts, my tongue seemed like it was coated with thick felt during the fourth flight and everything started to taste like chalky fruit punch. I did my best, but I was simply unable to recover my ability to fairly assess the wines.

Is there someway to overcome this tongue numbing phenomenon during a large tasting? I know that professional tasters may taste a hundred wines in setting. Are their judgements colored by tongue burnout? Just wonder if anyone else had experienced this problem?

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Re: Mass Wine Tasting?

Postby Redwinger » Mon Jul 24, 2006 1:16 pm

I've never judged a formal event, but I definitely experience palate fatigue, especially at large tasting/off-lines. I find my palate holds up pretty well for the first 10 wines or so and then goes South in a hurry. That's the primary reason I hardly ever post notes from these types of events.
I'm looking forward to seeing how others manage/avoid this palate fatigue.
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Re: Mass Wine Tasting?

Postby James Roscoe » Mon Jul 24, 2006 1:55 pm

And here I thought you were doing wine tastings during church services!
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Re: Mass Wine Tasting?

Postby Gary Barlettano » Mon Jul 24, 2006 2:07 pm

I am definitely not a professional taster, but I do get to taste anywhere from 20 to 30 wines on most weekends and even on some weekdays. (I am the family and friends tour guide.)

Two things: First, I kind of know when the tongue is numbing out on me, but it seems I can extrapolate, i.e. I just shuffle the baseline for my judgments after a certain time. Second, and this is probably a no-no, but I will try to cleanse the old palate with the insertion of a more acidic white wine amidst all the heavy reds. This is perhaps not unlike eating lemon sherbet between courses of a meal. In any event, both these devices seem to help me maintain my "objectivity," but with wine-tasting being as context-sensitive as it is I'm certain I'd come up with different results under different circumstances.

Fortunately, I do not live or die by my pronouncements about wine and nobody else does either.
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Re: Mass Wine Tasting?

Postby Otto » Tue Jul 25, 2006 10:32 am

Practice, practice, practice. You just need to attend big tastings more and taste slowly! :)

Seriously, the stamina does build up. What also helps are chunks of parmigiano reggiano or some other cheese. And I've been campaigning that all big tastings should have a cask of real ale set up, because nothing clears the palate better than a low alcohol, very hoppy beer.
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