Tournament Tasting Tips

from Wine Team USA

In 2016, WINE TEAM USA took third place at the World Wine Tasting Championship, a blind tasting tournament that takes place each year in France.

Here are ten helpful competition tasting tips from 2016 WINE TEAM USA captain, John Vilja.

  1. Be consistent in your evaluation technique, look for visual clues on grape identification and age, smell for characteristics such as grape, location, or age, and finally taste to create holistic opinion of the wine.
  2. Take multiple tastes, some tastes develop more slowly in your mouth so second and third sips reveal important clues.
  3. Spitting out sips is vital in retaining your judgement until the final wines.
  4. Take notes judiciously. Use them to go through your personal process but don’t simply list all the flavors and scents you pick up since you will not have time to process too much data.
  5. Manage your time, devote the first few minutes with each wine to silent evaluation, at least half your total time to discussion with team members, then the final few minutes to reaching a consensus conclusion.
  6. During discussion, listen to your teammates and actively contribute towards a decision and be keenly aware of your personal blind spots.
  7. Don’t second guess answers after you’ve completed tasting them. Once consensus is reached beware the power of suggestion to change your answers based on a faulty recollection. Only change answers based on additional physical evaluation.
  8. Manage your glasses. Each member gets 3 glasses to taste 12 wines so it’s important to save samples of prior wines so that you can revisit if you’re uncertain.
  9. If you’ve narrowed a choice down to 2 options, consider splitting your answers to assure you pick up points on some factors such as putting a country and region that aren’t compatible so that you can guarantee some points for the wine.
  10. Remember to sit back and enjoy the tasting. Placing too much pressure on yourself reduces your sensory acuity.

Want info on future events?

Find out more about upcoming blind wine tasting events and the Wine Tasting US Open.