Fall wine tasting

A few Saturdays ago, my husband and I went to a wine tasting at our friends Brad and Cassia’s house. Cassia used to work at a winery in California, and with a little encouragement she will launch into an enthusiastic comparison of real versus synthetic corks and other smart wine topics. They hold seasonal wine tastings at their cute little apartment. This was our third or fourth invitation, but every time they had hosted a party, we were out of town. What are the odds, I ask you? Someone was obviously conspiring against us. That’s why I was so excited to receive the quarterly evite and see that we could actually go to this one.

Here is the lovely hostess (in the middle) flanked by Stacy (left, another Nikon lover) and Sarah (right, with a haircut I may have to emulate).

Cassia made a delightful little tray of pumpkin muffins with a cinnamon sugar topping.

With a little encouragement I persuaded her to share the recipe, and will soon be sharing it with all you lovely people.

Cassia? If you were wondering why those muffins disappeared so quickly, well, I may have a confession to make. I simply ate them all, in a quick and quiet frenzy. Then I blamed it on the nearest partygoer.

Just kidding! But I did eat probably half of the cheese. My strategy was simple: position myself by the food with my camera and pretend to be taking a million artistic and well-composed shots. In between each shot, feed myself a delectable, creamy square of cheese. It’s not the first time my camera has allowed for successful subterfuge, and it won’t be the last.

The little bowls of cheese and the plate of salami had these adorable little labels.

Each guest had a wine glass assigned to them with his or her name written on a little circle of paper attached to the stem. It was brilliant–it saved me from losing my wine glass about 5 times.

In the dining room, the wine was laid out: 2 bottles each of 9 different kinds of wine; 4 red, 1 rosé, and 4 white. They were all hidden inside a brown paper bag with their identifying numbers.

The idea was that we would taste all the wines over the course of a couple hours, take notes on these adorable little tasting note cards, and guess from the master list which wine was which.

The person who correctly identified the most wines would win.

I’ll give you a hint: that person was not me.

I tried to challenge myself to smell and taste all the interesting things wine connoisseurs are always identifying in wines. Did it smell like citrus? Like jasmine? Like oak? I was miserably bad at it. I thought I might be good at it since I love cooking so much, and regularly smell and taste all my ingredients. However, as I closed my eyes and told myself “focus, focus: what do you smell?” while attempting to think outside the box and listen to my senses, all my brain said was “Well . . . mmm, it smells like wine!” It was time to beg our hostess for some help. “Cassia,” I said, “all I’m getting from this one is ‘table wine’. What is it that you smell?” She swirled the wine around, inhaled, tasted it. “I’m tasting some almost burnt caramel flavor. It also has some herby undertones to it.” I tasted again. It still read ‘table wine’ to me. “Burnt caramel, burnt caramel, burnt caramel,” I repeated to myself over and over again. “Table wine!” my consciousness shouted. “Be quiet and let me sense the burnt caramel!” I yelled back at myself. Soon there was a yelling match inside my own head. So I did what any reasonable person would do at this point–I gave up and moved on to wine #5.

Unfortunately, wine #9 ran out before I had a chance to taste it, so I shrugged my shoulders and randomly wrote in “Cuvet.” When the results came back in, it came to light that I had only guessed two wines correctly: #4, which was the Rosé (the, um, only Rosé), and #9. Two out of nine! Can you believe it? I think that means that I flunked wines.

What am I doing wrong??? And why can’t I be a wine conoisseur?

Well, at least I had a blast drinking all of them. Yes, I enjoyed every minute of the flunking experience and I slept like a baby that night, lemme tell ya.

It was the perfect party. It was both structured and casual. There was a goal–but one that welcomed conversation. Going for the next glass of wine kept everyone moving and circulating.

If the conversation lagged (doesn’t that happen every 7 minutes, on average?), you could compare tasting notes.

Jess and Nate showed up.

I was very excited because I had yet to meet their now 2 month old baby, Desmond. He is the master of face-making.

He mainly looked surprised to be alive.

Though I thought he also looked like he might have some wine-tasting wisdom of the ages, but just hadn’t learned how to put it into words yet.

If only he could have whispered the answers into my ear! Then I could have sent my A++ wine tasting report card to my parents for them to put on the fridge.

Watching little Desmond’s parents interact with him was one of the highlights of my evening.

Everyone tasted the wines thoughtfully . . .

And Cassia did the rounds, giving us her insight, though no hints, mind you.

On a tangent, Cassia has mastered the art of smiling for the camera. Please notice the open eyes, the relaxed mouth, and the nonexistent wrinkle factor. I apparently was failing at my own tutorial on the ‘fake smile.’ Gragghrar, I hate it when I don’t follow my own rules!

The winner was announced at the end. And it was Jon.

What a little usurper. Eventually I’ll take my rightful victory back from him.

But first I need practice. A lot of practice.

25 thoughts on “Fall wine tasting

  1. TheKitchenWitch

    I’m laughing that you got only Rose right AND the one wine you didn’t actually taste! That’s awesome! I took a wine tasting class once and I remember zippo about it because–duh–I can’t learn a thing when I’m drinking!

    Love baby Des and how he looks surprised to be alive. :)

    Reply
  2. Angie

    Looks like you had a great time – we do a wine tasting every Wednesday and it always fun to learn about wines…but a blind tasting, I may only get two right as well!

    Reply
  3. Cassia Kathleen

    Yay! Fall wine tasting blog post! Thanks for the incredible pictures and making me sound like a super wine genius. :) Don’t worry, there will continue to be seasons, so there will continue to be plenty of wine tasting practice in your future!

    Reply
  4. Veronica

    I would flunk wine-tasting too. It just tastes like wine to me! BTW, shut up about your smile. It is lovely. You would not have looked as pretty with a fake smile, even if you didn’t have crinkles in the corners of your eyes. Your natural smile is gorgeous! Own it. :)

    Reply
  5. Pingback: Tweets that mention Fall wine tasting | Jenna's Everything Blog -- Topsy.com

  6. Amanda K.

    I was just stalking your blog the other day! Your photog skills are awesome. I’m not sure about the verse in Timothy. If you look it up, please let me know!

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      Thanks Amanda! The verse I was thinking of was totally not Timothy . . . it was Eph. 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

      Reply
      1. Amanda K.

        You aren’t going to believe this, but I kept wondering where I knew that from…I have the verse of Ephesians 2:8-10 sitting right on top of my desk!

  7. Twinky

    Hmmm, the wine tasting looked quite interesting, but it was the photos of BABY that caught MY eye….. You know you have the bug… evidence seeps forth here and there… Someday!!

    Reply
  8. Circe

    I’ve done this with tea, it’s mostly a ladies’ party, but it’s still fun, and it gets people moving and talking.

    ps, this is one of the best posts I’ve seen, it was like I was there

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      That’s a great idea–a tea-tasting party! I always love going into a Teavana store and tasting the different kinds they have available for sampling, I just never thought to do it for a party. Thanks!

      Reply
  9. Layla

    Maybe you can answer something for me I always wondered about with these events. With it being alcohol and assuming maybe some people drive, how do they get home and if something happened would the host of the party be held responsible legally for providing the alcohol, if an accident were to occur?
    Sorry for such a tacky/odd/morbid question on your entry regarding a fancy event, but I’ve never drank or been to one, so it leaves me with a different type of question, than someone who is a wine fan, for example…
    Though the display of all the bite sized food and cheese squares are lovely!

    Reply
    1. Jenna Post author

      I have no idea about liability, but most of us take public transit, so that wasn’t even an issue for Adam and me.

      Reply
  10. Kristin

    What a great post – you are such a talented writer! I stumbled upon your blog, looking for tips on hosting a fall wine-tasting party and this was as entertaining as it was helpful and informative. Loved your story – thanks so much for sharing!
    -Kristin

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *