Blind Wine Tasting for 50+ In My Kitchen, Virtually Speaking

In the ultimate social media networking experience, a friend and I joined winetwits and over 50 twitter members in a virtual wine tasting last night. Giovanni Bonmartini-Fini, the producer of Barone Fini Pinot Grigio, was present at the Robert Smith Hotel in New York to conduct a blind wine tasting – Barone Fini versus an unknown Pinot Grigio. As the host guided the participants through the tasting, more than 50 wine experts and enthusiasts conducted their own tastings at home simultaneously with a live stream of the tasting at the hotel and tweeted their comments using the hashtag #tastechallenge. Giovanni began with a brief history of the now 150 year old Italy. He then spoke of terroir. He next led everyone through a blind tasting of the two wines. Armed with tasting mats and tasting note cards, virtual participants tweeted their thoughts throughout the presentation and the tastings – everything from chat about wine coasters to in depth critiques of the wines. After both wines had been tasted, participants were asked to vote for their favorite. Several minutes later, the brown paper bag clad bottles were unveiled and their contents revealed. But before I tell you what was inside, here is WINE’s tasting notes on the two wines:

Wine #1 – Light, straw yellow color with excellent clarity. The nose gave hints of lemons and apples. The flavor showed crisp acidity with notes of sour apples. Light, smooth, mineralic, acidic, well-balanced.

Wine#2 – This wine had a faint, chartreuse tinge to it. Although perfectly acceptable, the clarity was not as good as Wine #1. The nose was bigger on this wine, evidencing more fruit flavors. As was expected, the wine was bigger bodied, with more aggressive tastes of green apples. The fruit forward taste gave way to a slightly tart, almost bitter flavor, the fruit and bitterness lingering on the tongue for some time.

In Wine Institute of New England’s opinion, Wine #1 was a truer, more representative expression of Pinot Grigio. It was light, crisp, acidic, and thirst-quenching. This wine would pair well with lighter fare, including oysters and other shellfish. Wine #2 was fuller bodied, fruitier, also acidic although not quite as well-balanced. I believe many wine drinkers who enjoy a slightly bolder taste than the typical Pinot Grigio would be happy selecting this wine to pair with seafood seasoned with slightly bolder flavors.

It was WINE’s guess that Wine #2 was the Barone Fini Pinot Grigio. We were correct. Wine #1 was Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. Both wines hale from Valdadige. Although both wines were perfectly quaffable, Wine #1 was a truer and better expression of what a Pinot Grigio should be. All tasting notes were made without regard to price. Of course, price does need to be taken into account and the price of his wine was something that Giovanni certainly felt was a key selling point. The Barone Fini runs about $12 per bottle, whereas the Santa Margherita will set you back closer to $24. When all is said and done, it’s nice to have choices.

We will report the results of the vote as soon as we have word.