The World’s Best Sommelier shares three tips for blind tasting

Thursday February 20 2020 by Vitisphere

 Nothing should be taken for granted: “Being a sommelier means being on a constant learning curve, travelling and meeting winegrowers out in the field”, warned German sommelier Marc Almert. Nothing should be taken for granted: “Being a sommelier means being on a constant learning curve, travelling and meeting winegrowers out in the field”, warned German sommelier Marc Almert. - Photo credit : Alexandre Abellan (Vitisphere)

Blind tasting wine is both complex and requires humility. It implies putting one's skills on the line with no other safety net than one's knowledge and ability to reason. “Being a sommelier means being on a constant learning curve, travelling and meeting winegrowers out in the field”, explained German sommelier Marc Almert on 12 February at Vinexpo Paris. The World’s 2019 Best Sommelier, and sommelier at the Baur restaurant on Lake Zurich, offered valuable advice on blind tasting for wine enthusiasts and industry members.

In tests like these, you try and guess what the wine could be. But that’s a sure way of making a mistake. The best way to approach blind tasting is to think about what the wine can’t be”, said Almert. Viewing himself as a detective looking for clues, he advised would-be tasters not to take any shortcuts. To avoid forgetting anything (especially under stress), it is important to always follow the same steps of describing the wine in the same order, advised Almert. In his opinion, it is important to start a tasting by sight (colour, reflections, viscosity...), then by smell (the first aromas, their intensity, changes in the bouquet...) and taste (acidity, warmth, structure, finish...).

Precision in the organoleptic descriptions must be a part of this routine – referring to floral or fruity notes is out of the question, rather they have to be dissected in order to move forward. “People think I'm weird referring to a freshly-cut green apple aroma. My advice is to smell as many fruits and flowers as possible at different stages of ripeness, for example at the market, to become more sensitive to nuances”, said Almert.

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