I was lucky enough to cook for harvest team at my friend’s Alex Gambal’s Burgundy winery.
We eat together at a long, communal table in the vendange “kitchen”, (which is in fact a garage).
It is a time for a few short hours of relative relaxation for the vendangeurs. It is a perfect example of the concept of “les plaisirs de la table“.
And it is during this time that I learned about the pleasures and mysteries and complexities of Burgundy.
And I learned whatever it is that I now know by participating (at first, mostly by listening) in a “game” played every night during dinner.
1 – A Fun Game Wine
Because we are in France, and it is during the harvest, we drink a lot of French wine.
And almost always, we taste the wines “blind”.
Blind tastings involve tasting the wine without initially knowing what it is (the bottles are covered).
Everyone who wants to has an opportunity to express an opinion about the wine.
And the game is always played the same way:
- We must first decide if it is an old world (ie. France, Spain, Italy, etc.) or new world (ie. US, Australia, new Zealand, etc., etc…) wine.
- Then the year (ie. specific vintage).
- And if the consensus is that it both an old world wine and a Burgundy, we try to decide if it is a village wine or a premier or even grand cru wine.
- And finally, the producer (ie. winemaker).
Impossible! You are probably thinking…
Well, it can be done, it really can.
It is a humbling experience, but fun, and certainly informative!
2 – How To Organise A Wine Tasting At Home (in the US)
The concept of a blind wine tasting is one that can easily be done at home with friends.
And the concept of New World vs. Old World is a really good format, using grape varieties from different countries.
- For example, sauvignon blancs from France (a good example would be a Sancerre) vs. Australia/New Zealand (Kim Crawford).
- Pinot Noirs from Burgundy vs. California and/or Oregon.
- A white Burgundy village wine vs. California chardonnay.
Your local wine merchant can help you out with your choices, and tell you a couple of things about the wines you will serve so you can – once everybody has given out their own ideas – say what it usually thought of the wine.
Usually is the key words here! Remember: there are no right answers, the fun lays in participating, saying what you think, taste wines and compare thoughts.
À la vôtre!