A couple of months ago at a dinner our friend Rachel mentioned reading something about the "Le gout du noir" dining concept- dining in total darkness. The idea appealed to all 3 couples present, but coming up with blind waiters was beyond our means. So we made a modified plan. So last night we gathered at the manse- Betsy and Rachel were the (sighted) cooks, and Joe was our (sighted) waiter, while the other 7 people (we recruited 2 more couples) were blindfolded.
Betsy had tried hard to keep me in the dark re recipes, so after volunteering to supply wine I dropped off a mixed case , with an instruction sheet to assist them with pairing (the Bourgogne is the fullest white, the Rueda the lightest, etc).
The rest of the guests brought appetizers, which we enjoyed sans blindfolds while final preparations were made : mushroom/walnut pate, shrimp, and duck rilletes canapes. I tried 2 wines NV Sciarpa Prosecco
crisp, light, not exciting but food friendly. B-2009 Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc
Not very grassy, citrus, melon, not bad at all though I'd appreciate a touch more acidiity and SB typicity. B-
OK, so we moved to table. Positions of utensils and glasses noted, then blindfolds were used (in my case, airline blinders). We had a solemn moment in light of what was happening in Japan, and then settled in for a fun night that was certainly different from anything I had done before.
The amuse was a bit weird- a canape, I knew Ritz cracker, but the slightly gooey topping was confusing- I said some form of smoked cheese. Turns out it was Spam
on Ritz (a joke as someone had responded to question re foods no one ate as "I eat everything but spam
). Food got much better from here on.
First course was pretty obviously a mushroom soup. Very interesting concentrating on the aromas without seeing. Rich, with cremini, porcini, and oyster mushrooms. Wine was medium to full bodied, lemon and apple, medium acids. If it was one of mine (Joe might pour something else) I was pretty sure it was the 2007 Bavard "Les Champs Perrier" Bourgogne.
Next up were 2 separate bowls. First had a cooked green, someone thought kale but Nancy pegged Brussels sprouts, it also had bacon (easy) and something spicy/vinegary. I said I couldn't make a public guess because I remembered Betsy asking if we had some Saturday, so it took the others a few guesses to get kimchi. A David Chang recipe, excellent. Group also got cauliflower quickly, I kept quiet because we have had this dish with pimenton often. Again, wine was easy, as I had only brought one off-dry (and Joe wouldn't have a Riesling). Lime, midbodied with a creamy edge, sound acids countering the sugar. 2007 Donnhoff Riesling QbA(Nahe).
Next course was delcious, a meat stew with olives over noodles. I was in (correct) minority saying veal, but didn't realize they were egg noodles. A couple of reds went around. First was light with bright berries, good acidity, refreshing. I went back and forth on whether it was the Zweigelt or the Beaujolais,. But when I tried second red it was a bit rounder, cherry fruit, I decided (with about 60% certainty) that it was the Beaujolais. Yep. 2008 Hofer Zweigelt.
B2007 Cedric Vincent "Pouilly Le Monial" Beaujolais
Next up was a salad (which I ended up eating with fingers- fork use is hard in dark). Prosciutto was easy, as was radicchio. Fennel was harder (not a very licoricey bulb), and I guessed fig on dressing - Nancy correctly got date. Wine was high acid, sharp, lemony. Process of elimination made it 2008 Trimbach Riesling.
There was a dessert of pink grapefruit terrine, but I don't do dessert. I did try another red. Ripe, jammy, soft and low acid, I liked earlier red's freshness more. I'm on fence if this is the Cotes du Ventoux or the Cotes du Rhone, it's the 2007 Brunel "Sabrine" Cotes du Rhone Villages.
B-/C+ (my least favorite, probably fave for several people).
Blindfolds off! Nice to see 9 faces I care about. I had also brought the Sandeman 20 year Tawny Port
. I really enjoyed this - nutty, toffee, dried cherries, moderate sweetness, complex and elegant. A-
We sat around and gabbed for a while more. The 2008 Mas du Fadan (CdVentoux)
went around, quite ripe but with a little more freshness than the CdRV. B-
What a fun and different night! The point wasn't the guessing, but the concentrating on other senses when sight wasn't available. We all agreed we should do again, but next time Betsy, Joe, and Rachel will be amongst the unsighted.
As to wines, even I can do ok guessing if it's single blind and the wines are mostly widely disparate styles!
Grade disclaimer: I'm a very easy grader, basically A is an excellent wine, B a good wine, C mediocre. Anything below C means I wouldn't drink at a party where it was only choice. Furthermore, I offer no promises of objectivity, accuracy, and certainly not of consistency.