Friday, March 31, 2023

Tuscany Tasting: Chianti Classico

My niece and I are planning to go to Tuscany next year. It will be my first trip to Europe since the pandemic and my first time in Italy. Tuscany conjures in my mind images of sunshine and sunflowers, culture and cuisine, and wondrous wines. I can’t wait!

Tuscany by Johny Goerend on Unsplash

In the meantime, I will have to settle for experiencing Tuscany with my palate. Lucky for me, I happened to have two bottles of San Felice Chianti Classico Gran Selezione of different vintages in my cellar: 2013 and 2016. Both of them are made with 100% Sangiovese.

There is Chianti, and There is Chianti

The area known as Chianti today was a wine growing region demarcated in the 1700s by Cosimo III de’ Medici, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. It has since expanded in size and production. In 1967, shortly after the launch of the Italian wine classification, Chianti was designated as a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC). Sangiovese was and remains the primary grape variety allowed by the designation.

A couple of decades later in 1984, the Italian government added an even higher level of classification known as Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) and designated the area as Chianti DOCG. Then in 1996, Chianti Classico separated from Chianti DOCG to become its own DOCG.

Today, Chianti is the largest wine region in Tuscany with two DOCGs. 

Chianti DOCG has seven sub zones
    • Chianti Colli Aretini
    • Chianti Colli Fiorentini
    • Chianti Colli Senesi
    • Chianti Colline Pisane
    • Chianti Montalbano
    • Chianti Montespertoli
    • Chianti Rufina
There are also two quality categories: Superiore, for wines made from vineyards with lower yields, and Riserva, for wines aged at least two years before release.

Chianti Classico DOCG, on the other hand, is marked with the black rooster (gallo nero) seal and has nine communes:
    • Barberino Val d’Elsa
    • Castellina in Chianti
    • Castelnuovo Berardenga
    • Gaiole in Chianti 
    • Greve in Chianti
    • Poggibonsi
    • Radda in Chianti
    • San Casciano Val di Pesa
    • Tavernelle Val di Pesa
The DOCG has three different quality levels based on aging requirements prior to release: Annata (12 months), Riserva (24 months), and Grand Selezione (30 months).

San Felice Chianti Classico Gran Selezione

Agricola San Felice owns estates in two famous Tuscan territories - Chianti Classico and Montalcino. The Chianti Classico estate is within the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga. With 140 hectares of vineyards, San Felice is recognized as a top producer in the region with a strong commitment to viticultural research. In the 1970s, the estate developed Poggio Rosso as a Chianti Classico ‘cru.’

Vertical Tasing of Poggio Rosso

This later earned the designation Gran Selezione in 2011, which required the wine to come from a single vineyard and be aged for at least 30 months.

2013 Poggio Rosso

Gran Selezione is only released during outstanding vintages. In fact, the 2013 Poggio Rosso was only the second vintage of the Gran Selezione. The year started cooler with an abundance of rainfall that led to delayed flowerings among the vines. This recovered quickly with above average temperatures in early July and gradual maturation in August and September. By harvest, the grapes had plenty of aromatic substances and polyphenols.

Medium ruby with a tinge of garnet in the glass, a swirl of the wine brings an opulent aroma of cherries and herbs. The palate is delicate and pleasant with tart cherries. It is medium-bodied with high acidity. The tannins are fine and integrated, and the finish is very long.

2016 Poggio Rosso

2016 is the fourth vintage of the Gran Selezione. That year, the winter was mild and rainy. Unlike 2013, high temperatures in April of 2016 caused the vines to flower a couple of weeks early. A regular May followed by unseasonably hot summer months with periodic rains allow the vines to fruit without water distress.

Possessing the classic Sangiovese medium ruby color, the wine gives off a yeasty, earthy aroma. On the palate, the funk eases into a vibrant burst of tart cherries. The wine is light to medium-bodied with high acidity and hairy tannins. The finish remains very long.

My Verdict: While both vintages differ in the finer flavor profiles, the underlying structure of the wine is typical of a Chianti Classico - the ruby color, the tart cherries, high acidity, and long finish. The older vintage has an elegance to it, while the younger vintage is livelier and has more character and complexity. I look forward to enjoying a glass of Chianti Classico next year in Tuscany itself.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Alphabet Soup of Wine

You may have noticed that some wineries provide technical sheets for their wines. These sheets often contain a bunch of acronyms - pH, TA, RS, and ABV. Ever wonder what they mean and whether you should care? Let’s demystify this alphabet soup of wine.

Alphabet Soup by Sigmund on Unsplash

pH stands for potential of hydrogen or power of hydrogen. It measures the acidity or alkilinity of an aqueous solution. The pH scale ranges from 1 to 14, with 7 being neutral. Wine is acidic, and its pH usually runs in the 3’s. White wines pH is typically in the 3.0 to 3.6 range, and red wines in the 3.4 to 3.9 range. Wines with lower pH tend to be more puckering on the palate, while wines with higher pH tend to be rounder. Think lemon juice versus tomato juice.

pH Scale by Alvy16 on WiKimedia Commons
In the vineyard, pH is used in conjunction with TA (or Titratable Acidity), sugar, and flavor to determine the optimal time for harvest. pH in grapes increases as they ripen and further rises incrementally during the fermentation process. If pH is lower than 3.0, it may be an indication that the grapes have been harvested before they are fully ripened. The resulting wine flavor may not be well developed. The reverse is true if pH is more than 4, suggesting a flabby wine with little acidity to liven it. 

Fun Fact: Acidity acts as a buffer to preserve wine. Wine collectors often favor a vintage with a lower pH for cellaring.


TA is often used to refer to Total Acidity and Titratable Acidity interchangeably. The truth is that Total Acidity is the measure of both titratable and non-titratable acids. However, because Titratable Acidity is easier to derive, it is often used as an approximation of Total Acidity. In this blog post, TA refers to Titratable Acidity. A good TA range for white wines is 7-9 g/L and that for red wines is 6-8 g/L. 

While pH measures the intensity of acids, TA measures the concentration of acids. To illustrate the difference between pH and TA, let’s make a Bloody Mary.
Bloody Mary by Toni Osmundson on Unsplash

1. Mix 0.5 oz of lemon juice to 2 oz of vodka and taste it. It will likely pucker you up! 

2. To that, add 4 oz of tomato juice, mix, and taste again. It will taste less sour. 

Both lemon juice and tomato juice are acidic ingredients. However, lemon juice contains citric acid which has a low pH of 2, while tomato juice contains a blend of citric, malic, and ascorbic acids with a combined pH of 4.1 to 4.4. So even though the concentration of acids (or TA) in the drink has increased with the addition of the tomato juice, the intensity of the combined acids has decreased.

 3. Now add your Worcestershire sauce, Tobasco sauce, horseradish, celery salt, and all the other good stuff and enjoy!

Fun Fact: While some wine collectors use pH as an indication of good acidity and therefore aging potential, others use TA as a measure. A vintage with a higher TA is definitely preferred for aging to a vintage with lower TA. 


RS stands for residual sugar, the leftover grape sugar after alcoholic fermentation is completed. RS is measured using g/L or %. (10 g/L is 1% residual sugar.) Most dry wines will have close to zero residual sugar so you don’t typically see RS listed in the tech sheet. Sweet wine starts at about 35 g/L or 3.5% RS and can go up to over 200 g/L or 20% RS. 

Sauternes by Jeff Burrows on Unsplash
Some of the best sweet wines are produced as a result of botrytis, also known as Noble Rot. Botrytis is a type of fungus that causes grapes to shrivel. As water content evaporates from the grapes, the sugar level increases and intensifies. This causes alcoholic fermentation to complete with excess sugar remaining. Famous botrytized wines include French Sauternes, Hungarian Tokaji, and German Beerenauslese or Trockenbeerenauslese.

Fun Fact: The most expensive botrytized wine is the Royal Tokaji Essencia that at one point cost $40,000 a bottle. The last I checked, you can get a half bottle for about $1,000.


Last but not least, ABV stands for Alcohol by Volume. It measures how much alcohol is in 100 mL of wine and uses % as the unit of measure. ABV of a wine is dependent on the grape sugar pre-fermentation. During alcoholic fermentation, wine yeast converts grape sugar into ethanol. Wine grapes or vitis vinifera often reach 22 to 26 degrees Brix (symbol °Bx) by harvest. 1 °Bx is 1 g of sugar in 100 g of crushed grape juice and will yield about 0.55% in alcohol content. 22 to 26 °Bx will yield about 12.1 to 14.3% ABV.

Measuring Brix
While most new world wines tend to run high in ABV, some European wines have less than 10% ABV. Moscato d’Asti runs around 5-6% ABV, and German Riesling runs around 7-8% ABV. By law, these old world wines are required to stop fermentation before all the sugars are converted to alcohol to create the respective styles of sweet wines.

Fun Fact: In the United States, the alcohol excise tax for wine above 16% ABV is about 50% higher than that for wine at 16% ABV and below. For that reason, you will not see many bottles of wine (if any!) with ABV above 16%.

I hope you enjoy the demystifying of the alphabet soup of wine and gain some confidence in reading wine technical sheets. And if you are hoping to start a wine cellar, you are now armed with a bit more knowledge on how to pick wines with aging potential. Salud!

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Apa Plagã? Wine from Bali?

“Do you like the wine?” The wait staff asked in anticipation.

I had been having Sauvignon Blanc with dinner at the off-the-beaten-path beach resort in Bintan Island. It was wet and balmy during the monsoon season. Sauvignon Blanc seemed like the best bet with spicy scrumptious Indonesian dishes. The spartan wine menu listed three whites and three reds, just grape varieties. No winery and no vintage were mentioned, making it easy to switch out certain wines. That was what happened. 

Plagã Sauvignon Blanc

After I told him I actually liked the latest rotation better than the last one, the young man beamed with pride and informed me that the wine was from Plagã, a winery in Bali. An Indonesian wine? Go figure!

Journey of Indonesian Wine

Here’s a little known fact. Indonesian viticulture dates back to the 18th Century in Kupang on Timor island, where locals helped Dutch explorers put down the roots of the first vines. Subsequently, there was an expansion of vineyard areas to Besuki and Banyuwangi in the island of Java. When the Dutch rule in Indonesia ended with World War II and was followed by Indonesian self-rule, the Muslim country imposed strict alcohol controls that set its wine culture back.

In the last couple of decades, however, the Indonesian government has relaxed its controls on alcohol importation and consumption. With an ever rising popularity of Bali as a tourist destination and an increased appetite for fine wines among urban middle-class Indonesians, wine culture is making a swift comeback. 

Viticulture in Bali

The arid high-altitude north coast of Bali is rich with volcanic soil making it suitable for growing wine grapes even in a tropical climate. Vineyards that dot Sanggalangit and Seririt villages grow mostly Probolinggo Biru (or Chasselasloulou), Alphonse-Lavalée, and Muscat. More recently, Syrah (or Shiraz), Pinot Gris (or Pinot Grigio), Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and even Italian grape, Malvasia Nera, were added to the mix.

Vineyard in Sanggalangit Village, Bali
Located just 8 degrees south of the equator with temperature ranging from low 70s to high 80s degrees Fahrenheit, Bali is unconventionally warm for growing vitis vinifera. Vineyards have to experiment with different growing practices to produce viable grapes for winemaking. Also being challenged is the concept of vintage since grapes may be harvested as often as three times a year without the constraints of temperate seasonal changes. As a result, some wineries even stop listing the vintage on the wine label.

Viniculture in Bali

There are about half a dozen wineries in Bali. Some produce wines with grapes from their local estate vineyards while others prefer to source grapes from more conventional wine growing regions. I now have had a taste of a locally grown Indonesian wine and an Indonesian wine that is made from sourced grapes. I can’t say I fully appreciated the former, but I quite enjoy the latter, perhaps because it tastes more familiar.

Founded in 1994, Hatten Wines is the first winery in Bali and one that grows grapes locally. Led by Australian winemaker James Kalleske, the winery offers a wide portfolio of red, white, rosé, and sparkling wines from its estates. Other Balinese wineries with local estate vineyards are Sababay Winery that makes both wines and spirits as well as Cantine Balita that focuses on Italian grapes or Italian-style wines.

Hatten sparkling white
Plagã is one of two Balinese wineries that source grapes outside of Indonesia. The winery was launched in April 2013 by PT Indowines, one of 14 licensed wine importers in Indonesia. Led by Argentinian winemaker Pablo Gonzalez, Plagã wines are made with grapes sourced from Chile, Australia, and parts of Europe. In fact, the Sauvignon Blanc I had was made with 60% Chilean (Central Valley) and 40% Italian (Sicily) grapes. The other Balinese winery Cape Discovery sources its grapes from Australia, New Zealand, and France.

My Verdict: While unexpected, it was fun to taste wine from a tropical climate. My favoring the Indonesian wine that is made with grapes sourced from conventional wine growing regions is likely a personal bias. It may be worthwhile to revisit both types of Indonesian wines side by side and paired with local cuisines. That’s definitely on the list for my next trip to Bali!

Saturday, December 31, 2022

The Water of Life Named Marc

I recently had my first taste of a Marc de Bourgogne, thanks to an old friend. Not just any marc, but one that is made from the pomace of the elusive, exclusive Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (affectionately known as DRC and definitely a bucket list wine). While I am not a connoisseur of fine spirits, this marc was aromatic, luscious, smooth, and without the slightest bit of burn.

Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Marc de Bourgogne

Fascinated, I decided to dig a little deeper - What is marc? Is it different from brandy or grappa? What makes it special?

Marc vs. Brandy

Marc (pronounced “mahr”) is short for eau de vie de marc, which literally translates to water of life of the grape pomace. It is more commonly known as pomace brandy. The term “brandy” is generally used to describe a spirit that is distilled from wine. If a fruit wine is used for distillation, then the distillate will be referred to as that particular fruit brandy; such as plum brandy or pear brandy. Marc however is distilled from grape pomace rather than wine. So what is grape pomace? 

Grape pomace by Olivier Colas
In winemaking and especially for red wine, crushed grapes (including pulp, skin, seeds, and stems) are fermented with the juice. When the fermentation is done, the wine is pressed to extract the juice from the solid grape debris. What is then left on the press is alcoholic grape pomace that can be distilled into marc. 

The general opinion of experts in fine spirits is that wine brandy is more refined, aromatic, and complex than pomace brandy. However, Marc de Bourgogne breaks the rustic spirit stereotype. It is multi-dimensional, smooth, and velvety. A vintage DRC marc further brings it up several notches and is definitely la crème de la crème.

Marc vs. Grappa

For the longest time, I had always associated brandy with distillate from wine and grappa with distillate from pomace. Beyond my over-simplified paradigm of grape spirits, the world of brandies spans countries, terroirs, grape varieties as well as distillation and aging methods. Now let’s delve into the difference between marc and grappa.

Grappa by Joel & Jasmin Førestbird on Unsplash

The obvious difference is that marc is French and grappa is Italian and consequently the different grape varieties used. For instance, Marc de Bourgogne is made from one or several of the Burgundian grapes such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Aligoté. While grappa may be made from the respective regional grapes, a special category known as aromatic grappa is made from the more “fragrant” grape varieties, such as Moscato, Gewürztraminer, Müller-Thurgau, and Riesling.

Marc and grappa also have different aging requirements. According to French regulations, Marc de Bourgogne has to age at least two years uninterrupted in an oak barrel. It is not uncommon however for aging to go on for 10 to 20 years. Grappa, on the other hand, is only required to rest for 6 months after distillation and does not have to age in oak. As a result, grappa tends to be a clear spirit while marc is darker with a caramel tinge.

Still intrigued? Check out this educational comparative tasting of Marc de Bourgogne and grappa by YouTube reviewer, Scott of Different Spirits. 

My Verdict: I am so blessed to be able to try a very special Marc de Bourgogne. While you can get a bottle of Marc de Bourgogne for under $100, marcs from many reputable Burgundian wineries run in the hundreds and one from DRC may run in the thousands, that is if you can get your hands on a bottle. If you find marc in a restaurant digestif menu, you should try it. I’d love to know what you think.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Wine Gift Ideas

Even though Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, it is still a while before Christmas. Are you looking for some gift ideas for the oenophile on your nice list? Or are you the oenophile on your nice list? Let me share some of my favorite wine things. Hopefully they will inspire more ideas, whether you are going for the style, the sparkle, the splurge, or something else.

The Style

Be it going to a restaurant or to a party, every wine lover needs a good tote to carry that special bottle for the occasion. I have owned and lost several single-bottle wine totes over the years. Then my friend gifted me with this stylish two-bottle insulated wine cooler bag made by Legacy. I love the the elegant design of earth-toned cotton canvas and faux leather as well as the luxurious feel to it.

Legacy Two-Bottle Wine Tote

This tote must be bound to me by some magic spell because I have not lost it. Truthfully, it could simply be the fact that it is bigger compared to the single-bottle collapsible totes I used to own. I often carry my water bottle in the second compartment so that I can stay hydrated at any time. You will find many cute wine totes in the market. Select the size and style that fit your favorite oenophile and your budget.

The Sparkle

I love the sparkle of wine glasses and own a modest collection. For dessert wine or just little taste, I have small Waterford Lismore lookalikes and straight narrow bowl stemwares. For Champagne and other bubblies, there are flutes, coupes, and tulip wine glasses. Last but not least, I own stem and stemless glasses of various sizes for red, white, and rosé.

My wine glass collection
Does the shape or size of the wine glass matter? I think it does to some extent. For example, stemware lets you to hold the glass in a way that does not impart body heat to the wine. The bigger bowl in red wine glasses allows the wine to swirl and breathe, and the narrower rim directs the aroma to your nose as you sip the wine. As for sparkling wine, you get to admire the strings of bubbles traveling the length of the flute or spreading out in tiny bursts on the surface of a coupe. Pick something from the vast selection and enhance your oenophile’s wine sipping experience.

The Splurge

If you are going for the splurge, the Coravin wine preservation system is an excellent gift for the serious wine collector… if he or she doesn’t own one already. Coravin allows you to extract wine from the bottle without removing the cork. A hollow needle is inserted into the cork and pumps argon into the bottle to draw out the wine. The inert gas then displaces the space left behind. Unlike oxygen that will oxidize and age the wine, argon is non-reactive. The cork then reseals from the needle hole naturally.

My Coravin preservation system

With a three-figure price tag, Coravin is a great accessory for that respectable cellar. A wine connoisseur is often curious about how a special bottle of wine will evolve over time. You can buy several bottles of the same wine and open a bottle every year or you can just buy one bottle and taste it via Coravin over a few years. Or perhaps your wine connoisseur fancies a glass from a particular wine but not the entire bottle. Coravin is perfect for that too. 

My Verdict: Whether you are gifting a casual wine lover or a serious wine connoisseur, I hope this list of my favorite wine things will generate more ideas. But more precious than all these is the gift of friendship and the joy of sharing a treasured bottle together. Cheers to you and yours this holiday season!

Monday, October 31, 2022

Upcycle that Wine!

Do you have a bottle of wine that doesn’t meet your expectation? In my case (pun intended), I have a dozen from my own vintage with high volatile acidity (VA). As you contemplate drinking or draining the wine, may I suggest you upcycle it! Here are a few of my tried and true tricks with upcycling sub-par wine:

1. Cook With It

You hear celebrity chefs telling you to only cook with wine that you will drink. That makes sense if you enjoy drinking the same wine as you are cooking. Personally I keep my cooking wine and drinking wine separated. In fact, I almost always cook with wine that I don’t want to drink. In my experience, cooking with a sub-par wine does not detract from the dish. I'm convinced that no one can tell the difference. 

Bolognese by Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash

The trick is to add it to dishes where wine is used to enhance the flavor but is not the star of the show. Some of my favorites are bolognese, Coq au Vin, and braised briskets/short ribs/fill in the blank meat. I would not, however, use it to make wine poached pears.

2. Whip Up Some Sangria

Originated from Spain and Portugal, sangria is a cocktail of wine and chopped or sliced fruit, oftentimes topped with a liquor. Sangria is especially popular in the summer as it takes advantage of the fruit in season. The flavors of sangria vary widely, ranging from dry to sweet and depending on the fruit of choice. But you can always count on it to be refreshing.

Sangria by Frank Zhang on Unsplash

Sangria can be made with red wine or white wine; the latter is known as Sangria Blanca. In either version, load a flask up with citrus fruit (oranges and lemons), stone fruit (peaches and nectarines), or even berries, apples or pineapples. Pour a bottle of your favorite sub-par wine in and add some liquor. Most people use brandy. I have used Grand Marnier, rum, fruit schnapps or even port. Sweeten it with sugar or syrup to your taste. Top the flask with ice, stir, and refrigerate for a couple of hours for the flavors to meld together before serving.

3. Mull Some Glühwein

As fall turns into winter, nothing warms the body and the soul like a comforting mug of Glühwein or German mulled wine. In fact, I have just made a couple batches of Glühwein for Halloween. Mulled wine is made by steeping spices in a blend of wine, oranges, and sugar over very low heat so as not to burn the alcohol away. Mulling spices may consist of cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, nutmeg, mace, or allspice. They are highly aromatic, comforting, and warm.

Glühwein by Hannah Pemberton on Unsplash
While Glühwein is considered German, different versions of mulled wine, known by different names, can be found all over Europe in the winter. If you like an extra punch, add a shot of liquor to your mulled wine. Popular choices include rum, brandy, vodka, and whiskey.

My Verdict: These are three fool-proof ways that I have personally used to upcycle my sub-par wine. One caveat - I would not use wine with cork taint for Sangria and Glühwein. I may cook with it in small amounts. How would you upcycle your wine?

Friday, September 30, 2022

Somm Blinders - Blind Tasting for the Rest of Us

If you are a wine geek, you are probably familiar with the 2012 documentary, Somm. The film follows four individuals as they prepped for the Master Sommelier exam. You were likely awed by the candidates’ impeccable ability to blind taste a wine and guess correctly its vintage, variety, appellation, and sub-region. While you aspire to have that kind of palate, you secretly wonder if you could even tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, or even Diet Coke.

The good people behind the documentary have since produced sequels, started a streaming service, and even come up with a blind tasting game for the rest of us. The Somm Blinders is a fun card game that anyone who enjoys wine can play. You may even learn a few things along the way. I’m going to share a few tips on how to get the most out of the game.

How to Play

The Somm Blinders now consists of three decks - the original, the red, and the white. Each deck has a list of wines to be included in the blind tasting. Most of the cards in the deck are about that wine (such as its flavor profile, country of origin, and vintage). Each card is also assigned a number of points.

Somm Blinders Original Deck
For each bottle round, you will blind taste a wine on the list. But first, every player gets five cards. At each turn, you will pick a new card and then discard one so that you will always have five cards in your hand. As you taste the wine, your goal is to match the cards to the wine. The bottle round ends when someone calls the wine correctly. Each player then gets the total points of the cards that match the wine. For the player who calls the right wine, five extra points will be given.

Not All Rules Are Meant to be Broken 

The game came with quite a bit of rules. Like many drinking games, part of the fun comes from breaking the rules. But to get the most out of the game, I’d suggest that you not break the following rules.

1. Include only wines that are on the list

Do not go rogue, and I don’t mean French red. Do not pick a bottle of wine that is not on the list. The cards are set up to describe the wines on the list and will not work as well if you decide to pick something else.

Five wines from the original deck
2. Use only “typical” wines 

Here’s a wine term for you - typicity or typicality. According to Jancis Robinson’s Oxford Companion to Wine, this refers to the wine’s quality of being typical of its type, geographical provenance, and even its vintage. An often sited example is Chardonnay from California versus one from Chablis. 

Oaked and unoaked Chardonnay
First, the grapes may taste different based on the soil and climate from which they grow; in other words, different terroirs. The winemaking method also differs. Chablis is not typically oaked (with the exception of the Grand Cru) and tends to produce a lean and clean Chardonnay with high acidity. California Chardonnay is often oaked, which produces a richer, buttery wine with spice notes. Watch James Beard Award-winning author and wine communicator, Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly, blind taste both wines.

How do you pick a bottle that is “typical” of the grape variety and region? Ask your wine merchant or wine steward from where you purchase your wine. If there is none around, read the label and go for at least a mid price range bottle. I would avoid bottom shelf wine as they are highly unreliable in terms of typicity or typicality. (That is a blog post in itself for another day.)

3. Swirl, smell, sip, and spit

While spitting is optional, this is a friendly reminder to play the game responsibly. Depending on how many bottles you are blind tasting and how you are getting home after the game, spitting may be the smartest thing you do. Even if you don’t win the game this time (who is really keeping a straight score anyways), you will likely live to play another day.

Blind tasting
My Verdict: I have played Somm Blinders with both serious wine nerds and social wine drinkers. Everyone had a great time! We even made up other rules just to keep things interesting. It presents a level playing field so no one has to worry about how much or how little wine knowledge they bring to the game. I currently own the original deck but will definitely be adding to that. Cheers, and let’s have some fun!