Recently, we have been using the black glasses made by Reidel to test the palates of our friends. Not many people are familiar with this game, so let me explain the rules and why it is so interesting.
Firstly, the black glasses are quality stem wear from one the best glass makers for wine glasses. Normally there is a particular glass for each grape variety, but in the black glass range it is a general purpose glass. The wines are all served at room temperature, so there is no difference between the temperature of the reds and whites. All the wines are single varieties, and only occasionally I have included a rosé, just to confuse things. Each guest is given a sheet to fill in and a list of the allowable varieties to choose from. In the case of the whites there are 6 choices and for the reds 7 choices and 4 wines of each colour are served.
On the face of it, you would expect this to be a doddle for someone who drinks copious amounts of wine. But you would be shocked to discover how many times the experienced drinkers confuse a red for a white or vice versa. Because the glasses are black, it is impossible to see the colour of the wine, and because the temperature is the same for all wines, one has to rely solely on smell and taste. This has been found to test the best of our friends and many have been embarrassed by their choices. But everyone at some stage has been caught out in this test.
What can make it harder is if the whites are aged and the reds are younger, because this is the opposite of what many people drink. However, if you really focus you can pick up the distinctive characters of each grape variety. Part of the problem is the chatter that goes around the table, which sometimes leads people down the wrong path, and it is wise to avoid being influenced by this.
To make this game work you will need black glasses, which are quite expensive from Reidel, but there are other makers available, and you see them occasionally in second hand stores. You will also need someone to stand apart from the group to pour the wines and keep a track of the order. Fortunately, we have my grandson who is not interested in wine yet, but is more than capable of being the sommelier for the night. Then you will need the wines you intend to present for the night, and score sheets for everyone to use. After that it is pour and slurp until you have finished the 8 wines. Of course, you can have more or less wines depending on your budget or preference, but we have found that 4 of each is a good test.Our guests have thoroughly enjoyed this game and do look forward to more in the future, although some of them face it with a great deal of trepidation given the opprobrium that goes with confusing red and white wine. Those of you who find this hard to believe, only need to do the test themselves to appreciate just how hard it is.
The Tipsy Farmer.