One of the reasons I founded the Vegas Wineaux Wine Club was not only for fun, but for education. Learning about wine takes the “snob” out of the whole wine thing, and is a good way to start down the road of wine enjoyment for everyone. Even everyday folk, like me.

Kimberly, one of the members of the club, understands this more than most, and is also passionate about presenting wine, food, pairings, and ideas to the club. A wine tasting at her “casa” never fails to educate and entertain. Last week’s tasting was no exception.

She decided to have a blind tasting as her theme. The title was “Pin the Tail on the Bottle.”

Let’s just say that we were humbled. We all showed up, palates in hand (so to speak), and were ready to tackle the challenge.

The members of the Vegas Wineaux Wine Club are a dedicated group of wine lovers, and many have very fine palates. I fondly describe them as “palate snobs.”  Of course, I include myself in that description. However, Kimberly’s focus on “Pin the Tail on the Bottle”; that is, bring a bottle that’s out of the ordinary, really humbled us.  I made lots of grand pronouncements about aroma, palate, and finish, and largely bombed out. Even on the wine that I brought! Oh well.

The wines were mostly standard varietals, but many of them stumped us. Nearly all of them were varietals either from little-known makers, or varietals that aren’t normally considered as a grape from the particular area. And then there were the weird ones that nobody, except perhaps an expert with godlike tastebuds and incredibly vast knowledge, would possibly figure out.

For instance.

On one particular wine, my tasting notes consisted of “Zinfandel characteristics,” so therefore, I thought it was a Zinfandel.


It was a 2009 Kenneth Volk Touriga, Pomar Junction Vineyard.


As it turns out, Touriga is a Portuguese variety used in the making of Port, and it’s a pretty popular table wine there as well. Who knew. We certainly didn’t!

Another stumper was 2009 Giesta Dao Red Blend, which is a blend of Touriga, Tinta-Roriz, and Jaen.  Huh?

There are literally hundreds of wine grape varietals. Only a relative few are used for economic reasons, but many others are used locally and many others are used as experiments to test whether or not using them can be economically feasible if they survive the taste challenges. So having a wine that was made up of varietals that most of us never heard of was quite a treat.  The blend had Syrah characteristics, by the way, with good viscosity, berries, and lots of pepper.

There were several other wines, of course, adding up to a total of fourteen.  I took notes on all of them. Interestingly, the notes are largely illegible after about wine number ten.  I wonder how that happened.

I said all of that to say this:  Don’t ever turn down an opportunity to try something new.  Whether it’s a Cabernet from Alaska (I don’t know if such a thing exists) or a Sangiovese from Paso Robles (which does exist, although Paso Robles doesn’t exactly generate visions of Italy), try them.  The whole idea of “Pin the Tail on the Bottle” was to go to a favorite wine shop, close the eyes, and just pick a bottle.  My Western Australian Chardonnay was chosen that way, and although it was different from the butter-and-baseball-bat laden California Chards that I prefer, it was still a good wine, even though everybody thought it was an unusual Pinot Grigio with great body.

This was one of the more fun tastings, and exactly in line with my vision of what the Vegas Wineaux Wine Club was all about.  Thanks, Kimberly!  I salute you with a glass of Torrontes!

One thing I have to tell you.  Several members went all “Sideways” with the dump bucket. They said it was good. I’ll take their word for it. You remember the scene! Gotta love it!

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