The SOMM Journal

October / November 2016

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Page 32 of 132

32 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2016 { the blind side } WITH SO MUCH EMPHASIS BEING PLACED ON sommeliers today for testing and structured tasting, we here at The Somm Journal decided to roll up our shirtsleeves and dive into the world of blind tasting, pairing two sommeliers from our team—Allyson Gorsuch, Deputy Editor and Advanced Sommelier, and Karen Moneymaker, Senior Editor and Certified Sommelier—with Master Sommelier Christopher Miller and Advanced Sommelier Eduardo Bolaños. Guided and grilled by the erudite Christopher Miller, MS, here is what we unearthed in our first tasting. Be careful about ambiguous terms: It is fun to get creative with descriptors when tast - ing, but be careful of terms that might mean one thing to you and something completely different to someone else. For example, the term "popcorn" was used by one taster to describe a nutty quality to the wine. This is tricky, since popcorn carries the connotation of butter, or diacetyl, and therefore the presence of malolactic fermentation. Pick a lane: When going through your tasting, be careful of falling into the "medium to medium-plus" trap. You won't find a wine with "medium to medium-plus" acidity or "medium to medium-minus" alcohol. Pick one or the other ; you might not be right, but that is better than being indecisive. Don't leave points on the table: If you are tasting a wine and you are calling all the markers for—say, a California Chardonnay—you would be remiss in not speaking to presence (or lack thereof) of oak usage and malolactic fermentation. Especially in a testing environment, these are points that should not be missed. MEET THE TEAM In this ongoing series, we will explore the tropes of blind tasting, identify pitfalls that sommeliers often fall into and highlight the classic identifiers of grape varieties, regions and style. Of Tropes and Traps OUR LOS ANGELES PANEL LAYS THE GROUNDWORK FOR—AND DISCOVERS THE PITFALLS OF—BLIND TASTING story and photos by Karen Moneymaker The lineup for our first Blind Side tasting included wines from Rioja, Napa Valley, Collio, Valle de Uco, Sonoma and Chinon. Christopher Miller, Master Sommelier and Owner/Winemaker for Seabold Cellars. Eduardo Bolaños, Advanced Sommelier and Sommelier at Terroni, Los Angeles. Allyson Gorsuch, Advanced Sommelier and Deputy Editor of The Somm Journal. Karen Moneymaker, Certified Sommelier and Senior Editor of The Somm Journal.

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