Move over book club, there's a new group activity in town - and it's equally as fun.
Blind wine tasting is a great way to spend time with friends and try new wines.
"When you can’t see what wines you are drinking, it forces you to really use your senses and concentrate," explains Christine Ricketts, Cellar Director at leading wine retailer Cellarmasters.
"Blind tasting wine is a great way to remove any preconceptions you may have about a specific wine variety or region. When you are blind tasting and comparing wines, it prompts you to really take note of the aromas, flavours and the texture. So in other words, blind tasting can be a real eye opener into the world of wine," she added.
How to host your own wine blind tasting party
Order your case of wine
First things first, the wine. Every year, Cellarmasters launches a six-pack of the best red wines of the year, complete with tasting notes, paper bags and instructions on how to host your own wine blind tasting party. The pack is available for $120 (plus delivery and handling fee).
Invite your friends
Invite friends who like wine. While knowing something about wine would be an advantage it's not essential. It’s a fun night for even the most uneducated of wine drinkers, and it’s a great way to learn more about wines.
Ask your friends to arrive with a ‘clear palate’
For the competitive types, it's best to arrive with a clear palate. This means, avoiding coffee, smoking or brushing your teeth during the hours prior to the party.
Avoid lighting scented candles
Our taste buds are strongly influenced by smell. In fact, 80 per cent of what you taste in wine is what you smell (this is why when you have a blocked nose, you can barely taste any flavours in food or drinks), so avoid lighting heavily scented candles before or during the party.
Serve palate cleansers
When trying different wines, it can be a good idea to cleanse your palate in between the different varieties. The good news is that bread and cheese (did anyone say cheese board?) actually work well as palate cleansers, and neutralise your taste buds. Water is another palate cleanser, so don’t forget to put jugs of water on the table.
Cover the wines and number them
Before your guests arrive, hide the wines in brown paper bags, and number them from one to six.
Hand out the tasting sheets
Once your guests arrive, hand out the tasting sheets. These contain notes for each wine, which can help them with their guesses.
Once everyone has the tasting sheets, you can either pour each of your guests all wines (which requires a lot of glasses!), or simply serve them one wine at a time. You and your guests will then place the number that appears on the brown paper bag next to the wine in the tasting sheet they feel is the best match. Opinions will no doubt differ wildly, but that’s all part of the fun!
Name a wine winner
Once everyone has guessed all six wines, it’s time to remove the paper bags and do the big reveal. The person with the highest number of correct guesses gets bragging rights for a year – that is, until the next blind tasting party!
The Cellarmasters Red Wine of the Year Finalists six pack of wines, complete with the blind tasting party pack, is available for $120 (plus delivery and handling fee). To learn more about the Red Wine of the Year Finalists 2018, head to Cellarmasters.com/tastetime6