Before moving on to the 2009 red Burgundies, a brief interval to highlight a “humble” wine punching well above its weight.
Every month or two Sarah and Davide of the very excellent Sage Restaurant (http://www.sagewestport.ie/) hold a food and wine evening – the last few came under the heading “Autumn Feasts” – plenty of good food, good wine, good fun – and a good fixed price. We rummage through the cellar for the wines and between us all, we try and come up with a different theme for each get-together. They are normally sold out in advance, so there’s a good fun, slightly wild atmosphere on the night!
A few weeks back we had a special Christmas evening. Sarah and Davide had just been informed of a very prestigious award – which they can’t say anything about until January – so we all decided to make a pretty special evening of it. Davide rustled up a menu of four amazing courses and we decided to try a rather unusual twist on the red wines. We selected 24 different red wines that would range in price from €20 to €85 on a restaurant list and then ran out and bought as much tin foil as possible – big demand just before Christmas for tin foil – and wrapped each of the bottles to hide their identity. Each pair of guests then chose a number from 1 – 24 and this corresponded to their “mystery” wine that was then put on the table for them to enjoy. Of course, if the next table’s wine seemed to be nicer, then the challenge for the guests was to try and convince them to swap. If a guest really objected to the wine they had received, then they could request a random replacement bottle – but again unaware as to what it might be.
During the meal, we wandered around (and of course ate and drank!) and asked guests to guess three general things about the wine they had: country, age and price they would be happy to pay in a restaurant.
As the various dishes were served, bottles were passed over heads and opinions exchanged. Semi-controlled mayhem (if there is such a thing!) ensued. Mature Aussies, Chateauneufs, Bordeaux and Burgundies all did the rounds. Two bottles from the initial bunch were rejected by their original recipients – only to find love from different diners! At the end of the evening, the “results” of the blind bottles were announced – to a raucous reception. In general, most wines were pegged around their potential list prices. A couple of the more expensive wines didn't fare so well, with one diner describing an €85 Beaune 1er Cru as “dogs pee” - he’s a vet, so he should know!
The star of the night turned out to be a wine of more humble origin – a very popular “House” red we import from Palo Masi in Tuscany that normally lists for around €20 in restaurants - Poggerissi Rosso. One guest – who had rejected an earlier bottle and would happily describe themselves as a wine aficionado, confidently pegged the Poggerissi as a French red that they would happily pay €65 for! Another said they would pay €45, and a third (there were only 3 bottles of it included) said €30. Not bad!
Just shows that blind tasting can be very levelling – and fun!