How to Host a Blind Wine-Tasting

We all know someone who’s a wine snob, amiright? He won’t drink wine that’s less than $30/bottle or she doesn’t like chardonnay. It's too "oakey."

A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a blind-wine tasting party for my co-workers. The point to a blind wine tasting is to get over these judgments. No one knows what brand or grape he or she is drinking, or the price. Every time I’ve done this, we’ve been surprised at the results. 

Surprisingly, it went really well! We didn’t just get stupid drunk (until the end anyway) and nobody called in sick the next day. Win-win. My friend Kristin is an aspiring sommelier and she gave us a few things to consider as we tasted, like color, legs, holding it up to the light, what to look for in a finish, smell, etc. We all walked away with a new wine we liked (brand or grape), and at a reasonable price point.

Want to host a tasting yourself? Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Create the guidelines. I asked each guest to bring a bottle of red or white wine that costs $20 or less. We’ve also done it where guests only bring red or white wine. It’s up to you the general type of wine and the price point. 

Brown-bagged wine

Create a tasting sheet. Using trusty Excel, I created a tasting sheet for guests to score the wines. Across the top, I put space for wine color, aroma, taste/flavor and finish. I also included a column for Overall Quality Score, Tasting Notes and a spot for the guests to ask the price. Down the left hand side, I wrote “Wine #1” and so on.

Create a key. Since I was the host, when guests arrived, they gave me their wine, which I put into a numbered brown bag. They told me the type of wine and the price point, which I wrote down in the key. I did not reference the key until later, so that I wouldn’t know anything, either.

Provide food. I supplied a variety of dips, crackers, cheeses, meats, etc. These are essential when drinking copious amounts of wine, and also come in handy when cleansing the palette. 

Quite the spread, no?

Don’t forget a spit jar and water. To my dismay, not everyone wants to drink every drop of wine in their glass, even if they don’t like it. Keep a pitcher on hand for guests to pour out wines if they don’t want to finish the pour.

Spit jar and water on the right!

Discuss wines! What I loved about our group is that we all genuinely tasted the wines. We smelled, held it up to the light, took turns guessing the grape variety and had thoughtful discussions about the wine. Granted some of the discussions were “This smells like wet dog,” but others were about how we detected chocolate or banana in the aroma.

Guess and reveal. Once we tasted all of the wines, we took a vote on our favorite white and our favorite red, and then guessed how much those cost. I got out my trusty key, and for each wine, everyone guessed what the grape was and how much it cost. Most of the time, we were wrong, but it was still a blast.

Drink up and enjoy! Once our favorites were revealed, we drank the remaining wine — all 15 bottles and had the best time. But be careful not to spill, as witnessed below.

The results of our tasting were fascinating. We had a range of wines, from $2.99 up to $19.99. Both of our favorite wines were $3.99 from Trader Joe’s. Our second favorite was $19.99.

The aftermath. 

Below are the wines if you’re interested. I swear by the Vinas Chillenas…it’s always in my fridge and I even served it at the wedding!

Wine on the left was $19.99. Both others are $3.99 at Trader Joe's!


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MWF Seeks Travel Advice

Hey ya'll! Happy Hump Day!

Despite unfortunate circumstances surrounding me, it's impossible to not be in a good mood today. The sun is shining. The air is warm. My besties and Mama are coming to town this weekend. I'm having a good hair day.

And best of all, next week I'm going on vacation! Bryan and I are celebrating our 2-year wedding anniversary on May 28. We decided a long time ago that we'd take an anniversary trip every year and so far, we're sticking to it. Last year we went to Santa Barbara, which was amazing, and this year, we're heading to Savannah, Georgia and Hilton Head, South Carolina.

I can't wait.

I've never been to either place, and I LOVE visiting new places. We're staying at both the Sheraton and Westin in Savannah, and at the Westin in Hilton Head. All look amaze.

 Hilton Head


We definitely plan to hit the beaches in Savannah and obviously in Hilton Head. We're also going to dinner at the Olde Pink House in Savannah. Some other recommendations we've gotten are:
  • Historic home tours 
  • River Street
  • City Market
  • Drinks at Rocks on the River
  • Avoid Paula Deene's
Thought I'd ask you all my lovelies for travel tips in Savannah and/or Hilton Head. Restaurant tips? Must-sees or do's? Let me know!
Helene in Between

Unrelated, on Monday I told you about a good friend who passed from cancer last week. I don't know about you, but, I'm sick of going to funerals for people who have had cancer. I'm writing a letter to this stupid disease, and I wanted to ask my fans: If you had to say one thing to cancer, what would it be?

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Travel Update: Switzerland

Quick: Time warp back to Europe. Now where were we....

After our NYE in Amsterdam, we trekked down to South France. (Read about it here and here). After a lovely few days on the beach, it was time to round out our Euro vacation in Switzerland—Bryan’s favorite place on Earth.

Unfortunately, I awoke on the day we were leaving feeling horrible. My throat felt like I was swallowing glass, and I couldn’t breathe through my nose, which made the whole throat situation a million times worse. On the agenda for the day? A 6-hour train ride to Bern, Switzerland. Yippee.
Part of the view on our train ride.

We were excited about Bern, because although we were staying for just one night, we had plans to lay low, grab some dinner and hit up the casino. My illness had other ideas. After an out of body experience and allergic reaction to Ricola, we arrived in Bern and I spent the evening in the hotel sauna and sleeping. I woke up in a pure sweat the next morning – my fever broke! And I was feeling better. Not great, but better.

Off we went again, this time to Interlaken, where were going to spend the last leg of our trip. Interlaken, in case you’re unfamiliar, is a town in the Swiss Alps. It gets its name because it’s located between two lakes. It’s gorgeous.
Views of coming into Interlaken. This is one of said lakes.

I'll start by saying, Bryan and I don't ski. Somewhat of an OxyMoron for a couple of Americans vacationing in Switzerland, but we get as much pleasure out of taking cable cars up and down the mountains as others so risking their necks and lives skiing down. 
Up, up, up in the cable car! Plus Interlaken proper on the right. 

For our first day trip, we tackled Schilthorn mountain. If that sounds familiar, that's because it was featured in the 1960s James Bond movies. In any case, we took the oldest, creakiest cable car up a very steep mountain until we got to a mountain village called Mürren. Mürren is a traffic-free town for the most part, with most people pulling sleds or walking in snow shoes. Bryan and I were severely underdressed. In any case, we spent the day walking around the village, watching the crazy people paragliding and skiing, and drinking beers cuddled outside under blankets and breathing fresh air. Seriously. Everything in Switzerland, from the water to the air, was the freshest, cleanest ever. 

Back down the mountain we went, where we indulged in a traditional Swiss meal of fondue and beer. We capped the evening walking around town, and we found the cutest local bar. Packed with people drinking, laughing, dancing. The owner was a gal who knew everyone, who drank while she worked, and laughed the entire time. Awesome.

Switzerland Part 2: Coming next week! Linking up today with Helene

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